Pura Vida Mae!

Written By Lexie, Latitudes ’19 Costa Rica

Greetings from the Rich Coast! These past 3 months I’ve had the privilege of being a wildlife sanctuary intern at Kids Saving the Rainforest! Kids Saving the Rainforest is an organization founded in 1999 to plant trees in depleted areas of the country, and to rescue, rehabilitate and, when possible, release the animals who live in the rainforest.

My day to day life goes something like this: Wake up at 7:00, get ready for work, head to the “Restaurant” and have breakfast with my fellow interns, volunteers and staff members at KSTR. At 8 I head up to the animal kitchen which is where we prepare all the food for the animals in the sanctuary as well as the clinic and rehab animals. It takes about an hour to prepare all the food for the animals, all the species have special diets, and medications they require. Nina the Spider Monkey, for example, takes arthritis medication every morning, but she’ll only take it in a peanut butter and honey sandwich (we’ve tried everything else.) Once all the food is prepared we head out and deliver it to all the animals.

Once breakfast is served every day is unique! Some days we focus on cleaning and enriching the cages. This requires us to clean and disinfect the cages, and pull out old palm leaves. Once the cage is all clean we’ll go and forage for new fresh palm and other cool plant enrichment for the animals. This process can be a pretty physically grueling, but seeing how much the animals enjoy their clean, freshly enriched enclosures makes it all worth it.

Other days we focus on other forms of enrichment like filling bamboo with honey and hanging it in the Kinkajou cage or making hibiscus flower garlands for the Sloths, or paper mache balloons for the birds. Sometimes I get the opportunity to assist the clinic with injured or sick animals or help out the nursery with feedings. I’ve even gotten to go on a rescue mission to save an electrocuted Capuchin monkey.

On my day off I usually head to the beach! KSTR is about 15 minutes from the town of Quepos and 20 minutes away from Manuel Antonio which is where the famous national park it. This area is incredibly beautiful and I try to get out and explore as much as I can. Some nights around a new moon I’ll head out with some of my friends here and we’ll go to the Playa Espadilla to go night swimming with the bioluminescent plankton. Or just hang out by the pool on sight and stargaze.

Another one of the best parts about coming to this organization, and volunteering abroad in general, is all the amazing people you get to meet from all over the world. Coming here has been a truly amazing transformative experience and I’m going to miss all the animals but especially all the friends I’ve made during my time here. Pura Vida!