• Caitlin McAninch

3 Reasons to Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center

Updated: Feb 16, 2019



Before we headed down to Costa Rica I did a lot of research about different rescue centers around the country. I was really interested in going simply because I wasn’t sure how much wildlife we were actually going to see, but I knew we were bound to see animals up close at the rescue center.

Little did I know I was going to be surrounded by animals every day! But, that doesn’t mean I regret going. Our visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo was such an awesome experience. I want to use this post to tell you why!

Two scientists opened the Jaguar Rescue Center in 2008, Encar, a biologist that studies monkeys and Sandro, a biologist that focused on reptiles, specifically snakes. Their idea was to build a place that could temporarily house injured animals and be a permanent home to those that wouldn’t survive out on their own.

So let’s go ahead and dive into my three reasons on why you should visit the Jaguar Rescue Center.

1. You Get to See Adorable Animals

Just like I had hoped, the Jaguar Rescue Center was the perfect place to get up close and personal with the animals native to Costa Rica. We came face to face with crocodiles, caimans, spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys (we even played with babies, tons of birds and reptiles, and of course, baby sloths!!! For as much as this place is set up as a zoo, it’s also a place where animals are learning to get back into the wild. So sloths are practicing climbing, birds are practicing going after prey, and baby anteaters are digging for termites!











2. You’re Supporting a True Rescue Center

The Rescue Center is proud to have a high percentage of their animals returned to the wild. On a daily basis their volunteers transport animals from the rescue center to an area of the jungle they let the animals play in. At the end of playtime the animals return to the volunteers to be taken back to the main Center. But sometimes, they don’t! When the animals don’t come back at the end of playtime, it is because they know they’re ready to go off on their own!

But, until they are ready, they are housed, fed, and cleaned-up after at the rescue center. The tour and entrance fee covers all of the Rescue Center’s expenses, because as of now, they are not government funded. By taking a tour, you are paying for the animals’ recovery process! Here are some of the injured animals we saw that are in the middle of recovery:


This little caiman got hit by a machete, and has an injured neck. He's hoping for a full recovery.


This little parrot was kept as a pet, and had it's feathers clipped. But the feathers should grow back soon!



This is Pistachio the Pelican!!! He can't fly anymore, so he probably won't be released back into the wild. But they do take him to the beach a few times a week to swim!!!


Did you know the sloth and anteater are distant cousins? They were kept in the same home!

3. You’re Contributing to Protection of Wild Life in Costa Rica

The Rescue center is frequently called when animals are injured, or whenever animals are found to not be where they should.

For example, they had a sloth there that had been found in a trunk of a car trying to cross the Panama boarder, which Panama has less strict animal protection laws, meaning that sloth could have been sold as a pet on the black market. But! At the boarder, the sloth was found, and then brought to the Rescue Center where they were able to release it back into the wild safely.

The Jaguar Rescue Center is there specifically to help animals in situations like that, and also other horrible accidents, such as when dogs attack sloths, or when baby caimans are found in someone’s swimming pool, right below (both real examples of animals we saw there).


We were happy to get to know what the Rescue Center does, and see the animals up close. Here are some more photos of adorable animals we saw:


These are red eyed tree frog eggs!! And below is a tadpole! Can you believe they start out black?!






In case you are wondering, we did a personal tour for two, which came out to be $120. We paid via PayPal and booked our time about two months before we got there. I know they do require a two-week notice for personal tour reservations. We spent about 2 hours at the center and got to spend a lot of up close time with the sloths, we did not feel rushed whatsoever, so if was definitely worth it if you’re looking to get up close and personal with some sloths. Which yes, this is a big reason we chose to go there.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Jaguar Rescue Center or book your own tour, visit their website here.

For more blog posts about everything we did in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, check out my Costa Rica Page!


Costa Rica

Distance: 3,844 miles

Driving Time: 76 hours

#CostaRica #Activities #Abroad