Contributed by Wendy Rubiano
In Costa Rica, like in many other countries in the world, animals can find themselves in dangerous situations. The causes of animals getting hurt are many. This can be due to direct destruction of their habitat, road accidents, electrocution and some are even abandoned by their mother. Some of the most commonly rescued species are monkeys, sloths, coatis, and even birds. That’s is why animal sanctuaries are incredibly important to wildlife and maintaining Costa Rica’s impressive biodiversity!
What Is A Wildlife Sanctuary?
Wildlife sanctuaries exist for many specific reasons, but the main reason is to protect animals. Animal sanctuaries offer a new home to animals that have been left behind and animals rescued from conditions that would otherwise threaten their life. They help to protect animals from illegal trading and serve as a place where endangered animals can breed while being protected. Sadly, animals in animal sanctuaries cannot always be returned to the wild.
A Ray Of Hope On The Central Pacific Coast!
Manuel Antonio is noted for its vast diversity in flora and fauna, from the three-toed sloths and monkeys to many different species of birds. This is what makes Kids Saving The Rainforest an invaluable resource to preserve and protect its wildlife.
Jennifer moved to Costa Rica with her 4-year-old daughter in 1993. Her daughter, Janine, launched KSTR in 1999 when she was only 9 years old in a desire to protect the rainforest. Jennifer has been president since the beginning and aided a lot in the growth and development of the project.
Kids Saving the Rainforest´s mission is to protect and rehabilitate wildlife, conducting scientific research and educating the population as well as tourists on conservation. They rescue more than 100 animals each year, and its main objective is to rehabilitate these animals so that they can be released in their natural habitat. That being said, almost 50 animals reside here permanently as they can’t be returned to the wild. This can be due to bad injuries or a high level of domestication.
Save The Sloths Program
Save the sloths is a fundraising program where all donations strictly cover the expenses of the Sloths that have been badly injured or babies that have been prematurely separated from their mother. Babies and young sloths are one of the most frequent animal species brought in to the wildlife clinic.
Kids Saving The Rainforest receives many injured or orphaned sloths every year. They help provide medical care, rehabilitation and prepare the ones that are capable to be released back into the wild. Tracking devices are added to the released sloths so their progress can be monitored. The sanctuary relies on donations and tours to cover the expenses and care for the little ones in the best way possible.
Rescue To Release
Kids Saving The Rainforest runs the only legal rescue center that rehabilitates wounded, sick and abandoned rainforest animals on the Pacific Coast. Most animals are brought in by volunteers but in extreme cases our team has to go out and perform the rescuing.
Once the animals are in the clinic, our vet evaluates their condition and determines what is needed. That’s when the recovery process starts..
Gradually, as the animals start to gain strength, our staff takes them to the rehabilitation area in the rainforest called the Boot Camp Enclosure. This jungle gym is of great importance for baby sloths because this is where they will spend most of their time and where they will learn the necessary skills to thrive in the rainforest after their release.
GPS tracking backpacks/collars are essential for the success of the release program. The info gained from these collars will help KSTR keep track of the sloths to secure their health, happiness, and safety. It will also lend valuable information for publications and studies on setting standards for how to raise and release orphaned sloths. GPS technology is constantly developing and this is only the beginning of the kinds of studies we could do to learn more about sloth conservation. Virtually nothing is known about sloth behavior and ecology. We need to learn more about the sloths in the Manual Antonio region. Please play a part in helping us maintain and keep this species alive!
Raising The Orphans: Pelota, Ellen And Kermie
All three of these orphans found their way to Kids Saving The Rainforest after their mothers abandoned them. It is unclear why this may have happened. Sometimes mothers are attacked by a predator or get electrocuted and the babies are left to die (baby sloths, much like human babies, are totally dependent on their mothers for their survival).
Two-toed sloths typically needs to live up to 2 years close to their mothers while three-toed sloths only need 6 months to 1 year. This time allows for the young sloth to gain weight, to stay warm and to learn how to find good shelter. They learn what to eat, how to climb and develop instincts to avoid predators.
Pelota and Ellen were brought in when they were around 3 months old. Each weighed in at roundabout 600 grams (around a pound)! Little Kermie was brought in as a newborn barely weighing half a pound. Kids Saving The Rainforest built a safe environment that included plenty of opportunities for climbing, nutrition and lots of comfort for the orphans. These three sloths didn’t only flourish, but became inseparable!
Eventually, the baby sloth residence was no longer a viable option for the growing threesome. With hopeful plans in play for their eventual release, the day came when they needed to “spread their wings”. Starting with a couple of hours at a time under strict supervision, they were placed in a rehab habitat complete with branches and hammocks. Now they are able to spend all day and night without supervision!
Their story is one that we hope will make scientific history and provide vast amounts of knowledge about sloth behavior that hasn’t existed until now. While there are instances of adult sloths being released back into their original habitat! Additionally, they will be the first hand-raised orphans in the world to be released with GPS tracking collars!
Meet Chicles, The New My Costa Rica Mascot!!
Chicles is a two-toed sloth that has been staying at Kids Saving The Rainforest nursery since September of 2018. He arrived at the veterinary clinic confused, not understanding what was going on, and holding onto his dead mom after she had been electrocuted.
His fur was a little bit burnt and the team at Kids Saving The Rainforest were unsure if he had sustained any internal injuries. But due to the expertise or the vet on-site, they soon realized that his injuries were only superficial.
Chicles is now fully recovered, happy, growing fast and getting stronger by the day. He has a lot of fun interacting with his new sloth friends and will hopefully find his way back to the wild soon.
We are happy to announce that Costarica.org has become part of this great program and they are now the proud sponsor of Chicles!!
How You Can Help
If you’ve made it this far, you are now probably wondering how you can help, the answer is easy.
Kids Saving The Rainforest has a list of projects you can contribute to by donating! Here is the list of programs KSTR has currently set in place:
- Wildlife Rescue Center
- Wildlife Sanctuary
- Save the Sloths
- Wildlife Bridge
Kids Saving The Rainforest: Latest Accomplishments
- Kids Saving The Rainforest has promoted a reforestation project and has carried out the installation of bridges so that the large population of wildlife can pass without the danger of being hurt in the attempt to get to the other side of the Costanera Sur.
- Kids Saving The Rainforest works in coordination with the electric company to minimize injuries and deaths caused by electrocution.
- Every year, Kids Saving The Rainforest receives volunteers and interns from all over the world. Their stay varies from two weeks to more than one year.
- A few weeks ago, Kids Saving The Rainforest achieved their goal of buying an anesthesia machine thanks to all the donations they received from sponsors and private donations. Kids Saving The Rainforest also encourages and welcomes Corporate Sponsors to collaborate with their efforts of preserving and protecting Wildlife!
The fact that I have found this amazing organization makes me immensely happy because it’s always great to know that there are still good people out there who will go above and beyond to make sure wildlife and our rainforest is protected.
Kids Saving the Rainforest works so hard, the least we can do is support their efforts in any way we can so they can continue with this wonderful, magical, honorable cause they fight for.
Let’s help them continue to be the voice of these wonderful creatures!
Curious to learn more about Costa Rica’s rescue centers? Read all about it!