A bastion of responsible tourism in a country that recently banned hunting and closed the last of its zoos, the Jaguar Rescue Center is recognized as one of the leading sanctuaries for abandoned and rescued animals who get better here before being released back into the wild.
In this little neck of the woods, monkeys and sloths still outnumber humans, and the Jaguar Rescue Center is positively humming with animal energy.
Mama howler monkey with her newborn baby howler — Photo courtesy of Jaguar Rescue Center
Chiqui-Chiqui, an adult howler monkey (Allouata palliata), recently gave birth for the second time. Her adorable infant monkey, only one day old in the photo, is among the primates on hand to greet guests at the Jaguar Rescue Center.
Another little monkey new to the Jaguar Rescue Center is a white-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus), who was confiscated by a governmental agency that protects animals from abusive pet owners.
To some, opossums spell trouble. But at the Jaguar Rescue Center, they deserve love and affection as much as the next species. A family of orphaned baby opossums (Didelphis marsupialis) is currently spending time in the welcoming environment of the center.
Encar Garcia, a primatologist, and Sandro, her herpatologist husband, head up the team of animal-lovers and naturalists, whose work at the Jaguar Rescue Center has touched the lives of hundred of creatures.
Much credit is attributed to the free-play time spent with the many humans who visit, when the uncaged animals play freely and sometimes jump into the arms – or onto the backs – of children and adults.
Some animals who have been released into the nature preserve and others who were never residents turn up at the Jaguar Rescue Center to visit and pose for pictures, like a friendly three-toed sloth and her baby who recently passed through.
Curro, a keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) who suffered a clipped tail and wings at the hands of a pet owner, spent the past few months recovering and has just been released, now that he can fly again. Look for his colorful feathers in the skies above Puerto Viejo.
The Jaguar Rescue Center accepts visitors every day (except Sunday) at 9:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. for hour-and-a-half-long tours. There's a suggested donation of $18, since the Jaguar Rescue Center is a not-for-profit-organization. Volunteers can apply to help at the center for a minimum of three weeks.