Wild Animal Rescue Shelter in Puerto Viejo

One of my fave things about traveling is interacting with wild animals that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to in Hawaii, or even America in general.  When Tiff and I visited the sleepy rasta town of Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, the woman who ran our bed & breakfast recommended a wild animal rescue shelter just down the road from where we were staying, so we decided to check it out. We did what we normally do when we travel together and rented bikes. We love riding bikes. And wait til you see the animals we got to check out!!

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When you walk into the place, the first thing you see is all these snakes in cages.IMG_7122 (Small)

The woman who runs the shelter told us how you can tell when a snake is poisonous or not by their ring colors. I forget what the rule was, but it certainly is something I should try to remember.IMG_7131 (Small)

TiFunk is one of my best friends from law school. We’ve been lucky enough to take a few trips together, including this one to Costa Rica. We didn’t really plan this at all, it kind of came together at the last minute. We were living together in DC during our second year in law school and I found a last minute $300 r/t airfare from Chicago to Costa Rica. We decided to go to Chicago for Lollapalooza and to hang out with Tiff’s brother, who was living there at the time. Then we headed over to Costa Rica and pretty much winged the whole trip.

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After the snakes, the next thing we saw were the monkeys. This baby fella had quite a personality on him.

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If there’s anything I’ve learned in my travels, it’s to always mind the monkeys. Whether in Bali or Japan or Costa Rica, the monkeys always proved themselves to be a rambunctious bunch.

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They also like to eat hair, apparently.

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Don’t get me wrong, they have their moments 😉

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And then we played with this 3-legged kinkajou. It’s not exactly the sort of thing I thought I’d be doing when I booked flights to Costa Rica, but yes – we played with a 3-legged kinkajou.IMG_7233 (Small)

They don’t all them wild animals for nothing. It was hard to get this guy to settle down.

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And then there were the baby raccoons. IMG_7219 (Small)

This one wasn’t such a big fan of Tiff. Ha!

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We also got to see some baby sloths!! IMG_7167 (Small)

And a bunch of life-sized ones as well. It was cool to see them up close because when we went on a forest hike to scope them out, they were so far up in the tree that we couldn’t really see.

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They’ve kind of got this natural smile about them.

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We weren’t allowed to carry them because they’re pretty sensitive, but we got to feel their insanely soft fur.IMG_7266 (Small)

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I’m sorry, some of these photos aren’t rotated properly and the files are locked. I could spend the time to rotate them, but I kind of don’t feel like it right now. Apologies in advance.IMG_7271 (Small)

Again, apologies for the sideways photos. I don’t think there are too many more. This owl was really pretty. I was really regretting not bringing a better camera, but someone had told us if we were going to the beach not to bring any expensive gear with us. So all I had was a rinky dink point & shoot.IMG_7312 (Small)

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And then we saw this guy. We saw his little head peeping out from the rafters and at first I thought he was just a really gorgeous house cat.IMG_7321 (Small)

And then I thought … hey wait a minute. House cats don’t have fangs.IMG_7331 (Small)

Or spots.IMG_7359 (Small)

So it turns out this was an ocelot, and although he was pretty young (about a year or so), he was already about as big as he was going to get. Ocelots are like mini leopards, about the size of a really big house cat, but way, way more beautiful. The woman at the shelter said that he had lost his mom and someone found him in a jungle and turned him in. IMG_7363 (Small)

At first he played really shy and coy, but after a little while he warmed up and made his way over to us for some snuggles.IMG_7375 (Small)

He was really friendly.

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The rain forests of Costa Rica sound crazy. Imagine running into one of these in the wild. Actually, better this than a snake.IMG_7382 (Small)

So majestic.

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So the actual name of the shelter is the Jaguar Rescue Shelter, because that is the main animal they wanted to provide shelter for when they first opened. Someone had given them a baby jaguar whose mother had been killed by locals after eating their goats. She didn’t have any jaguars on the property when we were there, but the ocelot was just as cool. IMG_7390 (Small)

They do really amazing work. They rehabilitate the animals and nurture them until they’re ready to be released back into the wild. If you ever get a chance, I’d highly recommend checking them out. When I went, it was fairly new and there was no admission (although we did leave a donation), but it may have gotten more popular now. Tell them Tiff and I said hi! IMG_7398 (Small)


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