Following the new standards of animal welfare and for respect to wildlife, we stand against the “petting zoo” idea, where time before, inexperienced volunteers handled animals indistinctly. This concept has changed recently, and is now an aspect under the new regulation of Costa Rican Wildlife’s Law. This issue have made us look on how to improve our practices, and nowadays we do allow that volunteers with animal care or wildlife experience (nurses, veterinarians, biologists), and a time commitment long enough to be trained, help us with some of those tasks.
We stand that wild animals are sentient beings, under our responsibility, and not elements for the entertainment of people, and are the kind of values we want to share with our volunteers. For what we see the volunteer was expecting to have a different experience with the animals.
About sloth walks: In the same way of the other procedures, sloth walks are done for a reason, which is improve animal conditions, not just for mental enrichment, but to give them the opportunity to get back and reinforce climbing/hanging abilities that may help them under the possibility of a reintroduction, as well as help as mental and physical enrichment while their recovery. Similar to the aspect covered before, these procedures should be done by trained personnel, which is the reason why volunteers working at the hospital (vet team), are the ones leading the task. In order to enhance the volunteer experience, we allow regular volunteers to sign onto a list to accompany vet team volunteers while doing the sloth walk, so they can share some information on what’s the sloth walk about, and about the importance of reducing interaction with the animals while “training”. Working day hours at 7am– 3pm, turn on 7am-6pm, but then compelling for lack of activity at the evening
Working day hours at 7am– 3pm, turn on 7am-6pm, but then compelling for lack of activity at the eveningIn a regular day, the activity can run until 3pm, though there are times of the year or environmental conditions that pull us to increase our time commitment to be sure the animals are under good conditions. This is not a mandatory, as volunteers can get out of their working teams, to rest if desire.
In this time of the year, we are facing high temperatures in the region, so we need to keep animals cool, check water more than three times a day, and sometimes even change a little the feeding times, to avoid secondary issues. Most of the volunteers help us with these situations, and as I mentioned before, probably is about personal commitment. As an example, some volunteers help us with nocturnal animal feeding, or nursery activity, which represent an extra effort, as taking care of newborns or small baby animals that need to be under observation or fed very often, following a working schedule that extends to the evening and down . Of course, these tasks are developed by volunteers with other kind of commitment, and we respect entirely the decision of a volunteer if feel tired or don’t feel like want to participate on those.
Animal releasing: Every animal release should be coordinated with Costarrican wildlife agency. The regulation of Costa Rican wildlife Law has come into force since last February. This new regulation stands to divide Rescue Centers from Zoos, and change fundamentally the possibilities that can be done by each of those institutions. We (as other Costa Rican related institutions) have been forced to modify the scheme of the center, which under their suggestion was first to register the Zoo, and then the rescue center back. Contrary to what your client express, we are on the process, we have the Zoo accreditation complete, and the Rescue Center on it’s way.
Going a little deep, is important that the volunteers understand that the liberation of an animal is a process that take time, and not an act that can be done lightly. Under the new Costarrican wildlife regulation, we understand that animals that stay up to 72 hours on a rescue center are allowed to be released, while after this time, should be sent to the government agency to relocate on other institution. In our case, part of the animals that we have in the center, have a history that doesn’t allow us to set them under a release program. Some of the animals came badly injured, or lost physical or behavioral abilities to live in the wild due to human interactions.
But even when the panorama looks difficult for the future of the reintroductions, we have some animals that with the permission of the wildlife agency are in the process to be released. But as you may imagine, those are animals that should be kept on a separated environment, without interactions with regular volunteers, in order to reduce human contact that may endanger their reintroduction opportunities.
Who we are looking for: Volunteers of all ages and with all levels of experience and education are welcome at the Rescue Center. Whether you're a veterinary student with a broad knowledge of animal medicine, or simply a person with a passion for saving wildlife; your help is what keeps our Rescue Center going.
The location: The Rescue center's beautiful surroundings, kind staff and magnificent animals make volunteering at the Costa Rica animal rescue center a wonderful life - changing experience and keep our volunteers coming back year after year.