Our commitment to wildlife rescue, release and conservation in Costa Rica

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center (former Rescate Animal Zooave) is a registered non-profit wildlife rehabilitation facility founded in 1989 and located on 34 acres of natural tropical forest in the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica (see our address).

 

Our mission is to protect and restore the country’s biodiversity through wildlife rehabilitation, endangered species breeding, habitat preservation and the provision of lifetime care for non-releasable animals.

We are certified
By The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)

Our Mission

Protect, conserve, restore the biodiversity of the country through rescue, rehabilitation, release of wildlife, and reproduction of endangered species. Promote environmental education, and the care for the wildlife that can not be released.

Our Vision

Become a country of protection for wild animals, and with that a territory that is rich in flora and fauna.
There are three main centers at Rescate’s facility in Alajuela:
A state-of-the-art Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
An Endangered Wildlife Breeding Center
A Lifetime Animal Sanctuary with more than 125 species of animals.

Over 2,700 wild animals are admitted to Rescate on an annual basis including sloths, jaguars, monkeys, tapirs, pumas and coyotes as well as a wide variety of birds, small mammals and reptiles.

 

Roughly 800 of the birds, mammals, and reptiles that have been rescued cannot be released due to health or behavioral reasons. Non-releasable endangered species are maintained in the Endangered Wildlife Reproduction Center, where they have an opportunity to contribute to the survival of their species through successful breeding and release of off-spring. Non-releasable wildlife of more common species are provided with lifetime sanctuary in the Conservation Park Sanctuary.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center consists of a veterinary hospital with separate care units for various species, including primates, parrots and psittacines, raptors, small mammals and reptiles. Each care unit is equipped with an intensive care clinic, incubators, a fly-proof enclosure and a series of step-by-step acclimation enclosures. All intensive care units have separate refrigeration, medical supplies and equipment.

 

From the veterinary hospital, rehabilitated animals are moved to larger rehabilitation enclosures in the surrounding forest. The hospital is equipped with a surgery suite, a laboratory and three intensive care units, each with incubators and separate supplies and equipment.

Lifetime Care Sanctuary

The sanctuary provides life-time care for over 800 non-releasable wild animals including jaguars, tapirs, pumas, coyotes and monkeys as well as a wide variety of birds, small mammals, reptiles.

 

The Lifetime Care Sanctuary is open to the public and serves to educate the local people about wildlife issues. Animals housed in the Lifetime Care Sanctuary are provided with very large, naturalized enclosures and always have the opportunity to move out of view of the public if they choose to. See here to learn more about our Lifetime Care Sanctuary.

Endangered Wildlife Conservation Center​ - Our Conservation Work

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center has been maintaining these release sites since the late 1990’s and have released tens of thousands of animals at these sites including a number of globally threatened species. These include:

 

• Geoffroy’s spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
• Black-crowned Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii)
• Great Curassow (Crax rubra)
• Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)

Also several locally threatened species’ population could be stabilized by reintroducing, such as:

 

• Grey-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps)
• Orange-chinned parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis)
• Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

 

Geoffrey’s spider monkeys are the most endangered primates in Costa Rica. We have developed many highly successful soft-release practices that result in excellent integration into the wild and high survival rates.

Our Release sites

In addition to the rehabilitation, breeding and sanctuary facilities in Alajuela, Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center also maintains two release sites; Bosque Escondido Wildlife Refuge, a 1,800 acre dry tropical forest in the Nicoya Peninsula and; Golfito, a 90-acre tropical rainforest on the Osa Peninsula, where wild animals are returned to their natural environment.

Map with RESCATE, Bosque Escondido, and San Josecito conservation locations

Our Achievements

1990
Closing of the Zoo

Current administration took over what was ZooAve

1991
Changing Location

The project moved down the road, to the current location in order to have more space for the animals.

1992
Breeding Programs

Started the breeding program for endangered species, including the Scarlet Macaws, Great curassow, and Spider Monkeys.

1993
Officially Established as a wildlife rehabilitation center
1997
Establishing the Release Site in Golfo Dulce

Bought the release site in Golfo Dulce, and started construction for the Scarlet Macaw releases areas. In this same year, started releasing Scarlet Macaws, Titi or Squirrel Monkeys as well as other animals that came to the center.

1998
Campaign "No compre pichones"
Campaign sticker against the purchase of young parrots to combat nest theft

Started public service announcements “No compra pichones de ladrones de nidos” “ Dont buy fledglings from nest robbers”.

We've done serveral public service campaigns in Costa Rica. Some might still remember them, but don't know they are actually made and paid by us. For us it was always more important to educate the people than getting more visitors. We want to raise awareness for the animals.

 

1999
Establishing the Release Site in the Nicoya Peninsula

Purchased Bosque Escondido wildlife refuge in the Nicoya Peninsula. It is about 800 hectares of dry forest and our third release site. Click here to find our more about animal release.

2000
Releasing Spider Monkeys and Yellow Naped Amazons

Started releasing endangered spider monkeys and yellow naped amazons into Nicoya, where both species were extinct in the area.

2000
Releasing Spider Monkeys and Yellow Naped Amazons

Started releasing endangered spider monkeys and yellow naped amazons into Nicoya, where both species were extinct in the area.

2003
Public service campaigns

This year we did the camapign “Si ama la naturaleza, dejalo en su lugar” “If you love nature, leave it in its place”.

2004
Stop sport hunting in Costa Rica

Worked with legislation and with other NGO’s to try and stop sport hunting within Costa Rica. This was officially passed in 2012!

2014
Certification

In 2014, our foundation became certified as the first rescue center in Costa Rica accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).

2016
Construction of new Wildlife Hospital

In 2016, we resumed construction of a new Wildlife Hospital with an area of 7 acres, which was completed in in 2017. This new facility has tripled our capacity for receiving wild animals in need of rescue and rehabilitation, allowing us to serve more than 7,500 animals per year.

2015
Toucan "Grecia" arrived
“The toucan who saved a nation”

Grecia arrived at our sanctuary in 2015, a victim of a horrifying act of animal abuse. Her upper beak was brutally shattered by some teenagers.
Her case rose awareness and led to protests in the center of San José and even reached worldwide awareness to the point that even the BBC was creating a documenary film about her. You can find a small video of it HERE on their facebook page.

Voices were heard, leading to the enactment of the "bienestar animal" law in 2016, a pivotal moment in the fight for animal rights.

2016
NOV
We received KIVU

In November of 2016 we received Kivú, an elderly lion rescued from the Simón Bolívar National Zoo. Here, Kivú was able to live out his last days with dignity and a quality of life where he enjoyed much more space, attention, and an ideal diet for his species.

We built a special off-exhibit enclosure here for Kivú in a forested area of 4,000 square feet, which today serves as a rehabilitation enclosure for wild cats.

Read more about his story HERE.

2017
Carole Noon award for
best wildlife sanctuary

The GFAS Carole Noon Award is given annually to an individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication, and excellence in animal care at sanctuaries.

This year we are singled out for our innovation and leadership in supporting the welfare of native wildlife as a caregiver, conservationist and advocate.

2020-2023
We received animals from from over 30 different rescue centers

Received animals from over 30 different centers due to lack of permits, lack of funds due to the pandemic, illegal irregularities, or due to the lack of proper animal care.

Coming Up
2024
Opening of the Reptile House

We will open a new reptile house in 2024, which we are currently building. As per our philosophy, we always put animals first!

You can help us with this project here.

Endangered species reintroduction

The Scarlet Macaw, Great Curassow and Spider Monkey are all species which became extinct in the Nicoya Peninsula more than 70 years ago. The Spider Monkey is the most endangered primate of Costa Rica, and can be seen again today in the wild thanks to the efforts of our foundation.

More than 500 released

Great Curassows (Crax rubra) ​

More than 500 Great Curassows (Crax rubra) were bred through our Endangered Animal Reproduction Center (CRAVE). These individuals have been successfully re-established in the area and have grown into a thriving population with individuals now seen more than 20 kilometers from the original release site.

More than 50 released

Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi)

In addition, Rescate Wildlife has rehabilitated and released over 50 Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) that had been previously kept as pets. Since the beginning of the project to date, this reintroduced population is now thriving and 80 Spider Monkeys have been born in the wild where they live freely.

More than 387 released
Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao)

In 1997, we started the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) reintroduction project in San Josecito in the area of Golfo Dulce by Pierdras Blancas National Park. We’ve released 330 Scarlet Macaws until 2014. The Scarlet Macaws are now
reproducing on their own. Birds can be now found from
„Rio Esquinas“ to south of Golfito.

 

Since this project was so successful we’ve moved the project to our second, new release site in Bosque Escondido.
We have since released more than 57 individuals (numbers from 2023). Our goal is to release a total of about 300 Scarlet Macaws in the next 10 years which will contribute to reestablishing a stable, healthy population in the area.

Would you like to know how everything started? Read more about our History as Zooave

Alajuela, COSTA RICA