The second day we were in Punta Uva, we decided to head to the Jaguar Rescue Center (Centro de Rescate Jaguar) in Punta Cocles for a 9:30am tour. The Jaguar Rescue Center came highly recommended from Korrigan Lodge, as well as various forums, so we figured it was worth a look.
We barely made it, due to my husband’s propensity to pop the chain of the single-speed bicycle a bajillion times on the way there. And damn, is it hot when you are on the road without a breeze! But we got there in the nick of time (and got to see a slothy crossing the road…SCORE!).
In general, I always have mixed feelings on rescue centers for wildlife, as I really feel like wild animals should be, as their name suggests, in the wild. The quality and mission of these centers really seems to vary, and I often worry about their mixed messages regarding conservation and respect for wildlife.
Anyway (kicking soapbox to the side), the Jaguar Rescue Center is pretty neat. They also have a related preserve named La Ceiba (you can also go for a tour), where they sort of “test” their animals out of their care, with the capability to do a temporary or trial release in a protected area where they keep an eye on how things are going.
The tour lasts approximately 2 hours, and there is a lot to see. There were a few young cats (including an ocelot) that were being raised for release. One of these was a tiny kitten in a tree that was cut down by a farmer (who then brought it to the rescue center to try to save)–so it’s quite small and had to be bottle fed for some time.
Many of their animals are set to be rehabbed and released; common issues include broken wings (owls), serious injuries from captivity (monkeys), or other behavioral or physical problems that the center is trying to heal/resolve.
Now, as with an adorable anteater with one eye that doesn’t climb trees, they do have some residents that live there all the time. Many of them roam completely freely, and head to the forest daily only to return for some tlc (read: easy food or attention).
They have a lot of monkeys, many of which are quite young. You are allowed in the monkey house…DH went in, and was jumped on by the outbreak monkey (you know the outbreak monkey with that little white face? It’s actually a capuchin) which is exactly why I did not go in. Monkeys? Diseases? Thanksbutnothanks. (Unfortunately, it’s still too soon to make ebola jokes otherwise I would have littered those all over this photo…)
The one observation I had that disappointed me a bit (which isn’t limited to the center…it’s definitely a wider problem), is the general lack of Costa Rica staff or personnel. The center is run and staffed essentially by young volunteers taking a gap year, a break from life, etc. I fully understand that Costa Ricans, mostly, can’t just volunteer for free at a wildlife rescue center. And it seems like this center, in particular, does have pretty good community relationships, including working with schools.
Anyways–there are plenty of cute animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center in Punta Cocles! Even though you can see a ton of wildlife in the jungle on your own, I think it’s a good cause to support and it’s always fun to see the animals–particularly sloths, of course–up close. (Check out how different the two and three toed sloths are! More on sloths in the future.)