In 2005, Catalan primatologist Encar Garcia and her husband, Italian herpetologist Sandro Alviani, lived in southwest Costa Rica when the locals started bringing them injured animals in the hope that the two experts could save them. As the news spread and more animals arrived, their property was slowly turning into a full-fledged rescue center. So they bought the surrounding land and named their new organization the Jaguar Rescue Center (JRC) after one of their early rescues: a young orphaned Jaguar whose mother had been killed by farmers.
Today the center covers almost 5.5 hectares of land near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in the province of Limón in Costa Rica. It can accommodate about 1
While locals are still bringing injured and orphaned animals to the JRC, others are being brought in by tourists, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the National Animal Health Service, and even the police who confiscate animals that are poached or illegally kept as pets were.
Rescue workers are often victims of traffic accidents, animal attacks, environmental degradation, human interaction or electric shock from exposed power lines. After the animals have been rehabilitated, they are released into the La Ceiba Nature Reserve, a non-human part of the forest (with the exception of GFS workers) where they can safely get used to life in the wild again. The JRC has installed cameras in the area to monitor the animals after their release and to ensure that they find enough food.
Unfortunately, not all creatures brought to the JRC recover from their injuries – for example, 2019 311 of the 749 rescue workers died [PDF] – JRC staff and volunteers understand how remarkable it is to watch an animal how it gets well and successfully returns to its natural environment.
“There are so many amazing things the GFS works for, but I think we can all agree that seeing and saving a rescued animal through rehabilitation is the best and most rewarding part of the job will be, ”Torey, a GFS tour guide, told Mental Floss.
Some thoughts of orphan sloths are even brought directly back into their mothers arms. After a baby sloth's cries have been recorded, the JRC staff will bring the sloth back to where it was first found, play the recording, wait for the mother to recognize the cries, and climb (slowly) down from their green home to to reunite with her child.
Despite its partnerships with government agencies, the JRC receives no government funding. Instead, it relies on public donations and revenue from its visitor services. Learn more about how you can help below.
. 1 Donate money.
You can make a one-time or monthly donation for food, medical, and animal care, or you can make a special donation to the JRC's Shock Free Zone program, which isolates power lines and transformers that run through forests to prevent them from electrocuting wildlife.
. 2 Donate items.
Check the GFS Amazon wish list to see which items are needed most – and what they're used for. Examples include Pampers diapers for baby monkeys, snake hooks for the safe rescue of snakes and cans with worms for feeding birds, possums and bats.
One of the most important products on the list is goat milk powder, with which feeders orphans from many species of mammals work at the GFS.
"Compared to other milk, it has the most digestible enzyme," says Torey. "Unfortunately we don't have sloth milk, monkey milk, etc. available for the baby animals."
. 3 "Adopt" an animal.
For $ 105, you can virtually "adopt" an animal at the GFS. Choices range from Diavolino, a "lively little Margay" rescued from the illegal pet trade, to Floqui, a whitish two-toed sloth born with just one digit on each hand and foot.
. 4 Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center.
You can stay at the GFS at one of three visitor residences – La Ceiba House, Ilán Ilán House, or one of the Jaguar Inn Bungalows – that offer a variety of amenities, restaurant services, and access to nearby beaches.
Regardless of whether you stay there or not, you can book a tour of the GFS to explore the premises and even meet some of the animals. There are private, public, night, and VIP tours, and you can learn more here.
. 5 Volunteers at the Jaguar Rescue Center.
If you're looking for a more practical, possibly life-changing, way to help Costa Rica's wildlife, you can apply for the JRC's four-week volunteer program or a job at La Ceiba Nature Reserve, which lasts three to six months.
According to the website, GFS volunteers are housed at the Jaguar Inn and help with “a wide range of tasks, from washing dishes to cleaning up after animals to building and enclosing, or babysitting a newcomer to relieve the stress of their new ones Alleviate environment. “
La Ceiba volunteers, on the other hand, stay right on the reserve and do everything, from monitoring captured and recently released animals to keeping track of things clear.
Learn more about how to become a volunteer here.