Bringing Your Pets to Costa Rica

I care a great deal about animals and this has me quite angry to say the least.  ...humans.

A few days ago a Canadian couple decided to bring their pet Cockatoo on vacation with them to Costa Rica - no permits, nothing, “just taking it on vacation.”  The bird was immediately confiscated and fortunately transferred to a animal rescue center.  Often times they are immediately euthanised.  The couple also faces possible fines and even jail time.  Seriously, jail time.

NO ANIMALS can be brought into Costa Rica without proper documentation.  The Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle for Costa Rica, through SENASA, is the entity responsible for the regulation of exportation and importation for animals in general. To obtain the necessary documentation for the arrival or departure of pets to and from Costa Rica, contact SENASA at their website or by phone 011 (506) 2587-1600 or 011 (506) 2260-8300 or by email info[at]  They only speak Spanish.

As long as the proper documentation is obtained, bringing your pet into the country is not a big deal.  The requirements for cats and dogs is fairly basic; however, the importation of birds is difficult and cannot be done on your own.  You will need someone in Costa Rica to assist you.

An angry... - Expat Dave

We'll have to talk parrots sometime, Dave. I have some parrot stories.

That is an odd story. The couple must be extremely attacked to that cockatoo to bring it with them. Bird stores take birds for vacationers, or there must have been someone they could have left the bird with. Weird. The couple will be heartbroken, but the bird will be free. A cockatoo is a big bird and I have the same visceral response to the idea of any bird in a cage.

Anyone entering the country without residency is considered a 'tourist', so yes, they were on 'vacation'. I doubt the authorities  will set the bird free...but this will be another story in the news, later on.

Cockatoos have a much more restricted range than the true parrots, occurring naturally only in Australasia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Eleven of the 21 species exist in the wild only in Australia, while seven species occur only in the islands of the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The authorities should not set the bird free. The cockatoo (AYK there are several types) is not native to Central America, and this is a domesticated bird, and my guess is that it would be wrong to put it out in the wild. I am certainly no expert, but I don't think you can release a domesticated bird from Australia into the wild in Costa Rica to fend for itself. It will need a nice big space in which to fly around and be fed by humans.

It is a strange story. What clueless people. And how were they allowed to bring the bird on the plane?

The bird definitely will not be released into the wild.  Only native wildlife is released.  Also, birds kept in captivity cannot be released "into the wild" at all.  They have not been taught how to forage and would starve.  If/when captive birds are released it's done by "soft release."  Meaning they stay near the sanctuary they're released by and are fed on a daily basis.

- Expat Dave

I was responding to Celadons statement '...but the bird will be free'.

I, too, wonder how they got to Costa Rica with the bird, without having to produce the paperwork required.

kohlerias :

I was responding to Celadons statement '...but the bird will be free'.

I, too, wonder how they got to Costa Rica with the bird, without having to produce the paperwork required.

Sorry, I contradicted myself. When I wrote, "the bird will be free" I meant free of its cage. Then I said the birds should not be freed into the wild for the reasons Dave outlined.

Over the years, I have found it is best not to write on a forum, 'never'  or 'always'  :/

wow.  I'm just seeing this now and how utterly ridiculous of them to bring the parrot.   We are planning to move our Eclectus parrot with us in a couple of years and before even considering it, I knew enough to do some research as to what is required  (and yes, Dave - I have been in touch with your daughter - thanks for sharing her info with me!)  I'm glad they've sent him to a rescue rather than euthanize.  Cockatoos are gorgeous birds.

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