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The Importance of Ethical Sanctuaries: Interview With Wildlife Intern Jess

Jess volunteered with Rescate Wildlife Animal Rescue for one month in June and July of 2022. As a Wildlife Intern, Jess fed macaws, participated in crucial animal behavioral studies, and created environmental enrichment for the animals here at the sanctuary. Jess is currently a MSc student focusing on Animal Behavior, Welfare, Ethics and Law. Because of her focus, her experience gave her a glimpse into the future of protecting wildlife.

Jess spent extra time with the macaws here at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center.

Why did you pick Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center?
Jess: A think a big green flag was the honesty surrounding how animals came into care and clearly defining why some needed to stay, despite best efforts to release. I also think the transparency about some of the abnormal behaviors among the animals as a result of illness or pet trade was admirable It’s important to inform the public about how these behaviors come about.

What was your favorite part of your work as a Wildlife Intern?
Jess: My favorite observations were probably the squirrel monkeys, especially when we were observing them with enrichment. They were so curious about the enrichment; they were also quick to learn how to get to the food.

What was also interesting was their social structure and interactions. There were often two that stuck together, and one would be bolder than the others, and their individuality made observations very fun!

What did you notice as you explored the rest of Costa Rica?
Jess: Everyone was welcoming and kind. I found it to be a very relaxed culture. The country itself is so beautiful. I think the relationship Costa Rica has with its wildlife is something other countries should strive for. Their active participation in wildlife care and protection is admirable.

How did your time here impact your studies and your perception of animal sanctuaries?
Jess: What struck me was how prominent the illegal wildlife trade still is. It definitely opened my eyes to wanting to understand the law aspects of the trade and how sanctuaries played a part.

I do sometimes think about researching about how law enforcement could continue to be applied and how government infrastructure could provide support for the sanctuaries. I understand it’s a sensitive and complicated issue. 

Sanctuaries can provide a safe space for those animals who would not survive in the wild. And when animals end up in rescues as a result of human failure (such as pet trade), we then have duty to protect them and provide them with a better quality of life.

A candid shot of a mountain lion here at the sanctuary.

Jess says she enjoys looking back at her time in Costa Rica as some of the best moments of her life, and that the Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center team helped her understand the stages of rehabilitation.

Are you ready to discover how you will impact the future of the planet? Contact Jeanne Marie Pittman at with your questions and availability!

** Article by volunteer Lisa Martens

Would you like to get involved yourself?

Become an Intern and have a unique wildlife experience.

Veterinary Internship

Veterinary interns work directly with our highly experienced veterinarian and our rehabilitation staff. You will assist with with animal intakes, exams, treatments, surgeries, feeding and record keeping.

Wildlife Internship​

Work hands-on in the Lifetime Care Sanctuary, Endangered Species Breeding Center and the Rescue Center, feeding animals, conducting behavioral research, and creating enriching experiences for our non-releasable animals or even clicker train our Jaguar „Guapo“.

Road to freedom Internship

This internship gives you the unique opportunity to not only see, but to play an active part in what we call: The Road to Freedom. Aid the animals in their release, monitor and research them and their second chance at life in the wild, the final step on their Road to Freedom.

Alajuela, COSTA RICA