At our request, Anywhere Costa Rica did not schedule any tours for us in Puerto Viejo. We planned to make this part of the trip more of a time for chillin’ instead of exploring. But in 90+ degree heat and 600% humidity (it went up), there is only so much chillin’ you can do. Our peeps from Tripadvisor strongly recommended a visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center, which was not far from our place, so we called a cab and went down there. The cab driver, by the way, was one of the indigenous people and, as it turned out, he knew William. Small world!
The Jaguar Rescue Center was started by a couple of European zoologists who had witnessed the destruction of habitat in Costa Rica and its effect on wildlife. The first animal they tried to rescue was a baby Jaguar whose mother had been killed by local farmers. The baby was too far gone by the time it was rescued and did not survive. The center was named for it, but jaguars are rare, so don’t go there expecting to see one. No problem, there are plenty of other creatures to meet. Starting with this guy:
The Center is located in, and connected with, the national forest. As soon as these animals recover they are reintroduced back into the wild. Sometimes they will choose to reintroduce themselves back to the Center, but mostly they stay out there. This sloth is about ready to go.
I find that, other than the obvious behavioral similarities, one other thing I have in common with sloths is that neither of us are favored by extreme close-ups.
No jaguars were in attendance, but cats were still well represented by this margay. Although he is not nearly as large as a jaguar it still would be no fun prying him off your keester.
And we were glad to see a pair of spectacled owls. Not always the best photo ops in this place, though.
This Fiery-billed Aracari landed on some kid’s back pack!
And what a cute anteater!
No nature place would be complete without a poison dart frog!
And more toucans! This one could leave any time, but likes to hang around the gift shop.
This was our guide, busy taking a red-eyed frog off a leaf.
Most of the staff are volunteers, typically students who come from Europe, US and Canada. There are a number of monkeys here for rehab, injured by a predator or human. The morning we were there a monkey just showed up from the forest. He had not been rescued. He just stopped in to see what was going on!
When the rehab is complete they take the animals back into the forest for a trial. They may come back many times, but eventually they find their way. The few who don’t stay at the center indefinitely.
A visit to a place like this is something you don’t forget, not only because of the unique animals they work with, but also because of the commitment of the staff and volunteers. It is a ray of sunshine.
Here is a link to their web site: http://www.jaguarrescue.com/english/about-us/