JAGUAR RESCUE CENTER
LOCATION: Playa Chiquita, Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica
OPEN: Only open for tours Monday – Saturday
TOURS TIMES: 9:30AM – 11:00AM
STYLE: Nature, Wildlife, Education
AGE: All ages
The Jaguar Rescue Center is located in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, and serves as a rehabilitation facility for wildlife. It is not funded by any government or institution, but through private donations and the help of volunteers. The Center was started by two European biologists and animal enthusiasts/conservationists in 2008. The Center’s purpose first and foremost is the rehabilitation of animals with the aim of releasing them back into the wild – they are not a zoo. The center takes a ‘hand-on’ approach, with the help of trained volunteers – for more information, visit their website. The center has also recently purchased a large amount of nearby land to create a safe reserve to reintroduce animals into the wild – the La Ceiba Natural Reserve. They also offer housing in two houses where you can be completely surrounded by Costa Rican wildlife and escape the world (there is no internet)!
There is no booking required, just turn up and you will be split into groups accompanied by a volunteer. There are two tours available: the first is in the Center itself, and the other in the La Ceiba Natural Reserve.
The Center is not a zoo, so all visits to the center are at scheduled times and are conducted in small group tours. The tour schedule is Monday to Saturday at 9:30am and 11:30am, and runs for one and a half hours. It is $18 per person or free for kids under 10 years of age. Alternatively, you can do a book a private tour (book at least 24 hours in advance), which will allow you to get more up close and personal with the animals, and they are available Monday to Saturday at 2pm. Private tours run between 2 – 3 hours. The entry fee goes towards the running of the facility.
You are given in-depth information about the Center, it’s history, and how it functions, as well as the many animals at the center. Small groups are allowed in to the monkey pens under supervision where you are able to play with the monkeys. You can also see wild cats, sloths, raccoons, anteaters, reptiles, birds (owls, toucans, eagles), deer, and amphibians. There were several times during the tour where rehabilitating toucans would land on volunteers and visitors’ shoulders to rest.
In La Ceiba Natural Reserve, volunteers will take you on a 2 and a half hour walk to see wildlife. There are two times for these tours – 7pm ($55 pp or $10 for kids under 10) or 6:30pm ($60 pp or $10 for kids under 10). Both tours provide food before the tour, rainboots, and a bilingual naturalist guide (flashlights are also provided at night).
Value for money
If you are heading to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, I would definitely recommend a trip to the Jaguar Rescue Center. You get to see a lot of wildlife, and learn about them in a safe environment with trained volunteers. The experience of playing with monkeys and seeing animals like sloths up-close was one of the highlights of my trip. The knowledge that the entry money is being used to help rehabilitate these animals is great. Below are some photos I took during my visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center.