Many scientists go on to teach students in a university, but Ana María Villada Rosales’ teaching duties extend to a surprising student body—like baby owls and infant sloths.
Ana María’s career has taken her to the Toucan Rescue Ranch, a wildlife rescue facility in Costa Rica committed to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of local animal life. The rescue began with a specific focus on the six species of toucan native to Costa Rica. But wildlife officials noticed its success, and the organization expanded its scope to other species—including owls and sloths.
And when it came to sloths, Ana María and her team helped change the game. They hand-raised baby rescue sloths, trained them in what and how to eat, how to forage, where to sleep, and even how to interact with each other (not an easy task, Ana María notes).
People used to believe that you couldn’t release human-raised sloths into the wild. “We proved them wrong,” she says. These “amazing machines of survival” are going back into the wild, having babies, and thriving. Introducing rescued animals back to the wild is a special point of pride, she says.
The Center’s medical program focuses on trauma rehabilitation—helping animals who’ve been electrocuted on power lines or hit by cars, for example. Collaborating with veterinary specialists to develop innovative procedures is especially satisfying, Ana María notes. “It takes a community to raise an animal.”
Ana María describes a career path that has taken her from studying flying foxes in Australia to her current post at the Toucan Rescue Ranch—and offers tips for young people pursuing careers in conservation medicine.
About Ana María Villada Rosales
Ana María Villada Rosales is the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Veterinarian Supervisor and helps oversee the Animal Care Department. She graduated from veterinarian school from the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, and has a Masters in Conservation Medicine from Murdoch University, Australia. She has worked at zoological collections in Mexico and rescue centers in Australia, mainly working with wildlife since graduating from university.
At Toucan Rescue Ranch, Ana María oversees the clinic and overall treatments of injured animals. She also manages the caretaking of the sloths and their advancements within the Saving Sloths Together program. Ana is the supervisor of the medical team that is comprised of interns and staff. When needed, she travels between the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Release Sites and headquarters for treatments and preventive medicine for the animals. She assists the Volunteer Coordinator with responsibilities regarding the sanctuary and volunteers, and helps oversee the functionality of the rescue center.
About Women Blaze Trails Festival:
In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), LenovoEDU sponsored Women Blaze Trails, a virtual 3-day festival celebrating women in science, exploration, and conservation from around the world.
The virtual festival had one simple goal: celebrating incredible women, doing incredible things around the world, day in and day out. We’re sharing these videos from the festival so you can meet scientists, explorers, conservationists, filmmakers, photographers and more, showcasing their work, challenges, adventures, research and expeditions.
Images: The images above are of Ana María Villada Rosales and sloths.