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Costa Rica Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

by Zoe Helene

If your Costa Rica travel plans include a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, take a short detour to check out the Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) wildlife rehabilitation center on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Founded by two 9-year-old girls who were inspired to help save the disappearing rainforest, KSTR rehabilitates wounded, sick, abandoned and orphaned rainforest animals with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.
In this biologically diverse region, visitors might see monkeys, sloths, anteaters, owls, kinkajous, raccoons, ocelots and even the occasional jaguarundi. Staff members and volunteers name every animal, explains Samantha “Sam” Trull, a photographer, primate conservationist and wildlife manager at KSTR.

Face-to-face with a Gaudy leaf frog (agalychnis callidryas) on a heliconia flower, near Tenorio NP: Costa Rica.

Face-to-face with a Gaudy leaf frog (agalychnis callidryas) on a heliconia flower, near Tenorio NP: Costa Rica.

Human contact with animals that are being rehabilitated for release is limited, but visitors can interact with “permanent residents” that have been deemed unreleasable. During one- to two-hour tours, visitors see troupes of Titi monkeys, marmosets and kinkajous in 12 different enclosures, including the recently added multi-species cage that houses a porcupine and a small troop of capuchin monkeys. On premium tours, guests can watch through a glass window as vet techs rehabilitate and feed animals for release back into the wild. “We rescue wild animals but we also work very hard to prevent harm to them in the first place,” says Trull.
For example, the leading cause of death for the endemic Titi monkeys is electrocution by high-tension electric wires, so KSTR erected rope “monkey bridges” in strategic areas to offer a safe alternate route. The species has been moved from a designation of “critically endangered” to “endangered,” which is rare and inspiring progress in wildlife conservation.
“At KSTR, not only are we physically helping animals on a daily basis, but we’re also spreading the message about conservation and animals on a larger scale,” Trull says.

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