Jaguar Rescue Center
- Location : Playa Chiquita, 2 miles south from Puerto Viejo
- Altitude : Sea level
- Hours : 9:30 a.m.& 11:30 a.m.; Closed Sundays
- Telephone : 2750-0710
- Entrance fee : $15
There's nothing quite like the joy of a playful young monkey dangling from a rope by its tail taking fruit from the palm of your hand. At each stop along tours through the Jaguar Rescue Center, you'll have these personal encounters with wildlife whether it's petting young kinkajous and white-tailed deer, searching for camouflaged tree frogs or looking into the eyes of spectacled owls and toucans.read more close
Primatologist Encar Garcia founded the Jaguar Rescue Center with her husband Sandro Alviani in 2008 to protect and rehabilitate local wildlife. As of October 2013, the center provides care for sloths, monkeys, snakes, deer, frogs, parrots, owls, hawks and even a pair of jungle cats – an ocelot and a margay.
But the list of residents is always changing. Unlike zoos, the Jaguar Rescue Center focuses on rehabilitating and releasing animals back into the wild – either their native habitat or the nearby 125-acre La Ceiba Wildlife Reserve. The center reintroduces as much as 60 to 70 percent of the animals back into the wild. The rest become permanent residents, like the pair of white-tailed deer that stroll around the center licking friendly visitors.
Tours through the Jaguar Rescue Center happen twice daily, 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., and take visitors through each of the center's different enclosures and habitats starting with the snake exhibit. The center has all eight species of venomous Caribbean snakes including the bushmaster, fer-de-lance and palm pit vipers. From the snake exhibit, guides lead visitors to see young howler and spider monkeys; the frog pond that includes red-eyed green tree frogs; an insect exhibit with endangered rhinoceros beetles and tarantulas; the raptor exhibit featuring hawks, owls and other birds of prey; the jungle cat exhibit currently featuring a margay and an ocelot; and the sloth exhibit where you'll get up close with young raccoons, kinkajous, two- and three-toed sloths playing amongst shrubs and saplings.
From Puerto Viejo, drive south on Route 256 toward Manzanillo. Follow signs to the Jaguar Rescue Center, which is located on the right-hand side of the road in Playa Chiquita.