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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Jaguar Rescue Center, Puerto Viejo

Christmas Day erupted with sunshine and not a cloud in sight. It was he first day on my vacation with warm, sunny weather. I rented a rusty bicycle with a loose seat for the small amount of USD 7 and headed for the Jaguar Rescue Center (JRC) 3-4 kilometer away. They have one tour starting 9:30 (too early) and one at 11:30.
The rescue center take care of all animals delivered to them. It is a nonprofit organization that only rely on donations and sales of tour tickets and souvenirs. Most of the workers are volunteers that sign up for a minimum of 4 weeks. They get no salary, no food and no accommodation. Our guide was a volunteer and she had sign up for 4 weeks, one and a half year ago. She was still there.

There are no jaguars in the center at the moment. The first animal they had was a jaguar – the two founders got it and tried to rescue it, but unfortunately, it died. They then started the rescue center and gave it the name after the jaguar that is one of the most endangered species in the area. The goal for the center is to put all of the animals back into the wild, but for some it is not possible for various reasons. The animals that is not possible to set free will they try to give a good life inside the center.
The first section was the snake caves. I don’t remember most of the snake names, but they had 10-15 different.

Green snake

Brownish snake

Another green snake

The next section was the most popular; the sloth section. At the moment they have eight grown up sloths that had come to them for different reasons. Most of them had been abandoned by their mother, but some of them had been found on the roadside after they had been hurt by a car. Broken bones is not good for sloths that are depended on the ability to climb trees. Everybody loves sloths. For some reason they remind me of koalas. Not by their look, but the way they live. They live in trees, moves very slowly and only eat leafs. Most of the time they sleep, about 18 hours a day.
There are two type of sloth in Costa Rica – the two toed sloth and the three toed sloth. The once they had in JRC were mostly the two toed.

Hanging sloth

Sitting sloth

Cozy sloth

Happy sloth :) 

They don’t have any jaguar, but they have a animal that resemble the name, but has nothing else in common; the jaguarondi.

Jaguarondi

The big Boa Constrictor was beaten up by somebody in a village because it had taken a woman’s cat. The woman demanded the cat back and the people at JRC had to tell her that there were no way in hell they would kill the snake for the woman to get back her half-digested cat.

Boa Constrictor 

They have some crocodiles and some caimans. One of the crocs they rescued from a bar where it was tied up, and the owner and some guests took their time beating it . When the people from JRC heard about it and forced their way into the bar with help of the police, it was nearly dead and had lost an eye. The problem with all the crocodiles is that they will not get a permission to release them ever. The number of these animals has started to be too big in Costa Rica so the government are now talking about a limited hunt on them to reduce the number. Rescued crocodiles will not be allowed back into nature.



One of the small monkeys had injured his arm and was left by his mother. Others have fallen from trees or have been held as pets. These are howler monkeys and they are very common in the area. A group of 2-3 animals was in the trees around us just over our head.

Howler monkey baby in Rescue Center

A wild Howler monkey in a tree nearby
A wild sloth was climbing one of the trees nearby. The center is in the jungle and there is a thin line between the wild and the center. And that is their purpose. Monkeys will start to be let free, but will come back at night. They will then gradually be more and more familiar with the wild and hopefully, one day they will not return.
Sloth baby in Rescue Center

A wild sloth in a tree nearby

A hawk they had there for a long time because of a broken wing went back to the wild, and these birds migrate to Canada every summer. Every winter it comes back to the center to get some easy food. They wouldn’t give him any – he was wild, so he started to kill some of the residents like the monkey children. After he had taken several rescued animals, they understood that they had to give him food when he returned in winter season. They gave him the name Terminator.

The Terminator

We were close to the end of the tour when we heard a crack in a tree nearby. A huge iguana had fallen down and stood a bit shaken behind the tree for a while before it started to walk away.

Wild iguana



I just love the fact that there are people out there that are willing to sacrifice years of their life to help animals in need without earning anything in return. All our guide had to depend on was the tip she got from tourist like me. 

Here are some pictures of other animals in the Rescue Center:

A pelican with a broken wing that will never be able to fly again. 3 days a week they take it to the sea so it can swim. 

Capuchin monkey

A pair of owls

Another monkey. 

A rattle snake

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