The Jaguar Rescue Center is one of our very favorite places to visit in Puerto Viejo; we have visited the center on two separate occasions, and both trips were amazing. The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals. Once the animals have made a recovery, they are released back into protected areas of the wild. Their most endangered species are released at La Ceiba, 45 hectares of primary forest nestled in the heart of the jungle. The dedication of all volunteers to the care of these animals is evident from the moment you step foot on the property – you can tell that they take their jobs very seriously and genuinely love the animals. The facility is well maintained, the staff is knowledgeable, and the animals seem genuinely happy.
Interested in visiting the center? Tours are available Monday through Saturday, at 9:30 and 11:30. A volunteer will take you on a 1.5 hour tour of the center, where you will get the chance to see and learn about a variety of animals – anteaters, sloths, snakes, wild cats, monkeys, and tropical birds, to name a few.
Looking for a more up close and personal animal encounter? Private tours of the center are also available. These run Monday through Sunday at 2:00, and take 2-3 hours. We have done the private tour on both of our adventures to Puerto Viejo, and it has always been a trip highlight. The guide caters the tour specifically to your group, and will spend additional time with the animals that you most want to see – for us, this was the sloths, monkeys, and wild cats. One of the best parts of the private tour in that you get the opportunity to venture into the monkey enclosure, and bottle feed a variety of Capuchin, Howler, and Spider monkeys. Having the special opportunity to snuggle with baby monkeys is well worth the price.
On this trip, I had the opportunity to snuggle with a Howler monkey mom and her 2 day old baby, as well as her overly protective Spider monkey bodyguard. Sitting there, with all three monkeys snuggled on my lap, was pure bliss.
Keep in mind that this is by no means a zoo – the animals here are not jammed into cages for your viewing pleasure. Instead, many of the animals roam free; it is not unusual to see handlers sprawled out on blankets in the grass, nuzzling baby monkeys on their laps, or taking an injured pelican out for his daily beach swim. As the animals are only at the center long enough to be rehabilitated and released, there is no guarantee what animals you will see on each trip.
Regular Tour: $18, free for kids under 10
Private Tour: $50, free for kids under 10
All money raised through the tours goes directly towards helping to care for the animals. Be sure to tip your guide – they are volunteers, and this is the only money they receive to get by.
How can you help?
The Jaguar Rescue Center is a non-profit organization, and does not receive any financial aid from government or institutional agencies. Instead, the money needed to care for the animals is raised through the tours, as well as donations.
The center is always looking for kind visitors to donate items to help take care of the animals. Things like baby toys for the monkeys, medical supplies, and specific food items are always appreciated. For a list of items that the center is currently in need of, please check here.
For additional information on the Jaguar Rescue Center, or to book a tour, click here.
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