Hi Rainforest Lovers!
Coyote Peterson and the Brave Wilderness crew visited KSTR once again for another episode! Below you can get a "taste" of what's going on behind-the-scenes. This is an exclusive that you can't get anywhere else! Get your buckets ready.
Photo credits go to Chip (CFO and Operational Director)
For any questions or if you just want to say hi, you can email Chip at email@example.com.
An experienced horticulturalist, a senior writer at DIY Garden, and a mother...
Rachel Brown has written an extremely easy-to-read and informative guide to deforestation, and what we can do to help prevent it. She's on a one-woman-mission to help raise awareness!
Rachel's expertise stems from a passion to teach her children about the benefits of outdoor play and how to protect the environment. She has been growing plants, fruit, vegetables and crops on her parents farm in Devon since she was a child. Her passion for sustainability and living off the land is shared by her husband and two kids. Rachel loves teaching others everything from sowing seeds to harvesting.
Whether you've saved hundreds of forests in the past 50 years or you're a complete newbie, anyone can benefit by going back to the basics and learning about what you can do to help save our forests. Click the link below to read Rachel's guide!
Hi everyone! My name is Dani, and I am the spokeskid for Kids Saving the Rainforest.
We live in Manuel Antonio right now, and every day when we go outside, there’s a large guard dog! Well, he isn’t really a dog - he’s a Green Iguana, and he’s a big boy! We shouldn’t try to pet him, and we should respect his space just like we are social distancing these days. Except we always have to social distance with him, not just during a pandemic. We are lucky to live in a place where there’s lot of beautiful jungle. And we have to share this space, because we are in the *animal’s* jungle, not the other way around!
Another reason we should give wild animals space is because, if you get too close to them they might try to hurt you. You never know when you’re looking at a mommy or daddy, and there’s a baby nearby and out of sight. I know if somebody tried to steal me, my mom would hurt them! Most wild animals don’t want to hurt people, but if they are feeling scared or protective, they might try to hurt you.
It’s also important not to engage with wild animals because we can change their behavior and make them more like pets, and less like the wild animals that they are. At KSTR, there’s a spider monkey named Darwin, and before he was at KSTR, someone had kept him as a pet. And now, he cannot be released into the wild, because he learned that he needs to be dependent on humans for food, and wouldn’t be able to find his own food in the wild. Since Darwin was a pet, we don’t know who his mom and dad are, and so we can’t reunite him with his family. Darwin is also aggressive with new people, (maybe because he remembers bad things his previous owners did to him, or maybe because he’s a wild animal and just doesn’t like new people!). While we would all love to have a bear, a tiger, or a macaw as a pet, making a wild animal a pet is bad for the animal and dangerous for you!
In summary, don’t get close to wild animals and give them the space they need and deserve in this wonderful rainforest! If you love them from a distance they will always come back to see you!
We’re All in This Together Including Animals
By Mckenzie Wing, Volunteer Coordinator & Biologist
Judging by social media, most of the rest of the world spent the last month creating music videos in their living rooms, holding Zoom meetings while pantless, and making sourdough bread. Like, a lot of sourdough bread. Meanwhile, here at KSTR, our experience could not have been more different. We had to clean cages with skeleton crew staff, feed over 50 animals on a fraction of our usual budget, and keep our entire team safe and healthy. And we generally had to keep our pants on.
My point is, life here continued more or less as normal. Just…smaller. Quieter. It’s been eerie to see only 2 or 3 people working in the Sanctuary, eat meals with only a handful of other staff, and fall asleep to a nearly silent dormitory. Actually, that last one is kind of nice, I have to admit selfishly.
But it hasn’t been easy. With no regular funds coming in, we’re living off donations and everyone here has been furloughed. We’ve kept everyone fed, but some major projects have gone on hold. And meanwhile, in the clinic, our poor vet staff has had to deal with an assistant (yours truly) who is so out of his depth it’s almost not even funny.
Seriously—these last few months have been a crash course in animal care. It would make for a good training montage if it wasn’t at times practically slapstick. One morning, while I was cleaning the porcupine’s cage, he decided he wanted to give my leg a hug. Know how you get an affectionate porcupine off your leg? You don’t, that’s how. The kinkajou tries to bite whenever I try to change his water, as if he takes it personally. And there was that one time we had to feed everyone in rehab, give a physical exam to 2 sloths, then neuter a coati. On the same day. Shoot, the same morning. We had him snipped and clipped and then went to lunch. It was exhausting.
And also rewarding. Impressive, to be sure. It’s a testament to the work and passion of everyone here at KSTR that even in a global crisis we still function. A handful of baby owls came in and a few have already been released. An anteater just got moved to our prerelease area and is foraging on her own. There’s a young toucan who’s coming along nicely, even though his beak’s still just a little stub.
I may be tired, bitten, scratched, and terribly unqualified for even assisting a veterinarian, but this kind of work is keeping me sane. It’s keeping all of us together. I hope you all have your causes to keep you equally productive, occupied, and fulfilled during this time. Me, I have sloths. Although I might give sourdough a try.
Animal Care in Quarantine
By Mckenzie Wing, Volunteer Coordinator & Biologist
When I think back to the time before this madness started—just over a month ago, if you can believe it—I’m astounded by how things changed so fast. Beginning of last month, we had 14 volunteers living and staying onsite, and within a few weeks they were gone. We kept them safe, and made sure they felt so, but one by one they decided to return to their home countries while they had a chance. And so, like the rest of the world, KSTR closed down, self isolated, and effectively cut itself off from the rest of the world.
But we still have animals. Animals in need of care and attention. Animals who don’t care if the world is coming to an end—they’re hungry. And without our volunteer workforce, we have just a handful of permanent staff—a ragtag collection of citizens, expats, and foreigners—to do the work of over a dozen people for over 50 animals within our care. Plus no source of income.
So while it may seem like the world has come to pieces and life as we know it has come to a dead stop, here at KSTR I got to witness the miracle of my coworkers rally like never before. Everyone pitched in. Everyone. People took pay cuts and work furloughs. We slashed our budgets and tightened our belts, cutting expenses left and right. Without volunteers to manage or tours to lead, I effectively started working as an intern with the animals in the rescue center. Some offsite staff moved onto the property to minimize commutes and transmission risk.
We had some help, too. Many people have pitched in with donations of funds or fresh fruit, keeping our animals properly fed. MINAE and SINAC were gracious enough to allow us access to public beaches to pick leaves. Although let me tell you, standing alone on a deserted Playa Espadilla during Semana Santa was one of the weirdest moments of my life.
In times of crisis, I try to be realistic. But I also try to be thankful. So I’m thankful of all our supporters out there. I’m thankful of my coworkers, especially those patient enough to take me on as an intern. And in a strange way, I’m also thankful of the animals themselves, and the work they provide for us. It’s helping keep us all sane by keeping us busy.
If there’s any advice I can offer to you, it’s to find your own work to keep busy, something wholesome and rewarding. Stay sane. Stay healthy. And stay hopeful. Things will go back to normal one day.
But until then, I have animals to feed and cages to clean. Wow, I had no idea being an intern was so much work.
For my Focused Volunteer Placement with my gap year program, Carpe Diem, I chose to work at a jungle animal rehabilitation sanctuary in Costa Rica, called Kids Saving the Rainforest. To start my day, I eat breakfast with all of the volunteers and staff, including fellow Carpe Diem member, Sierra. We start work off by chopping fresh fruit and vegetables for the animals, and making sure everyone gets their necessary medication. Some animals housed at our sanctuary include parrots, coatis, kinkajous, sloths, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and marmosets, just to name a few. My personal favorites are the marmosets, Darwin the Spider Monkey, and a Scarlett Macaw named Bouche. There are around 60 animals and 16 species. After preparing the food, we go clean each enclosure and distribute food. We do this twice a day. With our extra time at work, we prepare enrichments. These can be reconstructions of cages, where we go out to the jungle and chop new trees with machetes, or find different things to put food in, such as bamboo chutes or coconuts. This is to keep the animals entertained and not bored, since they will live the remainder of their lives in the sanctuary. Once in a while, I will give a two hour tour of the property to the public, or help out in the clinic. In my free time I take naps (it’s more exhausting than it sounds, I swear), spend time with the wonderful people I’ve met here, go to the beach, read, or hit the towns of Quepos and Manuel Antonio.
Since its foundation 21 years ago this month, by two 9-year-olds, Kids Saving the Rainforest has always tried to keep at least one nominal “Spokes-kid” around to continue the tradition of, well, kids saving the rainforest. However, with all the children of staff and volunteers growing up or moving away, such a role has just recently been passed to me, for reasons I still don’t fully understand. Am I the youngest? Not even close. The most childlike-at-heart? Not likely. The most immature? Not—Ok, well, possibly.
But when I am not filling the tiny shoes of all the Spokeskids before me, leading tours of the wildlife sanctuary, organizing sloth research, assisting with animal pickups (mostly because no one else on staff can drive our manual-transmission Wildlife Ambulance), or relocating wild snakes off the grounds, I find time to do my primary job, which is coordinating KSTR’s volunteer program.
I’m always interested in the reasons people choose to become volunteers, who consist of our largest workforce and one of our greatest sources of funding. Their stories impress and mystify me. Their backgrounds are as varied and diverse as the countries they call home.
Many, as I expected, tend to be young people looking for work experience. These are the twenty-somethings on a gap year, or in between college semesters. Maybe they have an environmental background, or are trying to champion a good conservation cause. Maybe they’ve traveled before, but some are away from home and out of the country for the first time. They may stay and work for a few weeks, but oftentimes extend and stick around, postponing flights back to “real life” to spend more time with the animals.
But some are older, with careers and families. Some are couples, using a rare opportunity to synch vacations and travel together and come here to spend that precious time off to help animals. More often than not these types have no environmental or science background at all—we’ve had lawyers, doctors, engineers. They come from London, New York, Sydney, even from Dubai. And yet here they are.
What brings people like these out here? What possesses someone to be so generous to spend a vacation working? To “Voluntour?” For most, again, the opportunity is a career move and work experience, but that’s not always the case. After all, how exactly does a lawyer from London personally benefit from using their holiday to feed sloths?
Some say curiosity. They wanted to try something completely different. Their lives were unfulfilled. They wanted to help. They wanted to challenge themselves, to get out of their comfort zone. They really, really like sloths. Actually, I get that one a lot.
So if you have the time, the resources, and the inclination, come check us out. Want first-hand animal work? No prior experience necessary. Need a break from that office job? Contact me. Do you get bored easily on a vacation and prefer to stay busy? We can use you. Do you like sloths? Like, really, really like sloths?
You are not alone.
The first person to drive me around Quepos, Costa Rica when I moved here two years ago was Chip Braman. A silver-haired, tan-skinned, distinguished gentleman who looks much younger than his 72 years, Chip moved to the Quepos and Manuel Antonio area on the central Pacific coast 18 years ago from Connecticut. After spending 30 years traveling the globe as the international marketing director for Avon, Chip was ready for a change. Costa Rica’s pristine natural environment, affordable cost of living, and friendly people made the country an easy choice.
“It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak Spanish,” says Chip. “Look at anyone here in Costa Rica, smile, and say ‘pura vida’ with that thumbs up, and I guarantee, he’s going to say it right back at you. And you’ll realize: You know what, he’s right. It’s all pura vida here. It’s a good day, and it’s beautiful.”
Chip soon met an ambitious expat named Jennifer Rice, then 44, who was the founder of a hotel called the Mono Azul, (or “Blue Monkey”). Her husband had died a few years before, but she was helping her young daughter Janine, then 9, and her friend Aislín start a fledgling nonprofit organization. Chip fell in love with both Jennifer and the idea, and the rest is history.
Kids Saving the Rainforest is now a 20-year-old non-profit in Quepos that rescues and rehabilitates wildlife, runs a sanctuary and educational tours, plants trees, and puts up life-saving wildlife bridges over roads in Manuel Antonio. Chip and Jennifer have since sold the Mono Azul and have retired to life at the sanctuary. They now have much more time to devote to their ecological passion and are living their dream here in the rainforests of Costa Rica.
Both he and Jennifer are active members of the vibrant local expat community in Quepos, and over the years they’ve spent here, they have made firm friends with people from all over the world. Chip does his accounting overlooking the lovely swimming pool of the Blue Banyan Inn—a complex consisting of three luxury cottages he has built on his property outside of Quepos. Running a business, as well as helping out with the sanctuary, has had its challenges, but nothing they couldn’t handle. As Chip puts it: “Nothing ever happens like you expect it to. But at the end of the day, it all works out and you’re still in Costa Rica.”
Even if things get busy at times, it’s still retirement. Chip finds plenty of time for his favorite pastime: sketching the plants and animals that inspire him in the surrounding rainforest. He’s also surrounded by a motley crew of volunteers from all over the world: wildlife veterinarians, biologists, and other people dedicated to the cause—a true family he has brought together.
That laidback attitude of Chip’s rubs off too. Recently, I was standing in the bus station at Quepos—the local hub for cheap and mostly comfortable transport to the rest of Costa Rica. (Ten dollars will get you from Quepos to San José, the capital, in about four hours.) I had just missed a series of three buses to visit a beach I had never yet been to. I heard that saying of Chip’s in my head.
It’s true. When you make the adjustment, Costa Rica’s relaxed pace gets to be a benefit, not a frustration. I spotted a stand with soda and empanadas selling for less than a dollar. The public bus would take me to the beach in Manuel Antonio in less than 10 minutes for about 70 cents, as long as I had the patience to wait.
I headed for the empanada stand, and who did I run into buying a bus ticket to the capital city? Chip himself. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, and he repeated his saying onsite for effect. I grabbed an empanada and pineapple soda. Pretty soon, I was on my bus, the cool breeze blowing away the heat of the day. Chip was right, and the day was beautiful.
If you’re in the Quepos area and want to pay Chip a visit, he offers warm hospitality, a booming greeting, and a hearty handshake when the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife sanctuary offers educational tours (9 a.m., every day but Tuesday). He’ll have plenty of advice to give you on living the laidback lifestyle in Costa Rica.
Story taken from the International Living Magazine Oct. 2019 Vol. 40 No. 6 Pg. 8.
Click here to download the issue
Hello from Kids Saving the Rainforest Animal Rescue and Sanctuary & Reforestation project!
Is it really 2020 already? 2019 was a great year for KSTR as we planted 10,000 on our reforestation property and treated many kinds of birds, sloths, kinkajous, monkeys, anteaters, coatis, porcupines, and other wild animals at our onsite vet clinic. We also celebrated our 20th year anniversary in 2019.
We want to bring the New Year in right by thanking all of our donors, sponsors, and supporters of 2019.
Thanks to you all, our first 5K Rainforest Run was a huge success! So many people asked us to do it again next year, that it is now a tradition!! So save the date for November 22, 2020!
This years finish line!
Everyone that ran the race had a tree planted in their name!
(Ok, 2 year old Mariana didn’t run the race but she posed for the picture!)
These were the fabulous t-shirts for the racers!
And last but not least, our Sloth Mascot! And yes, you can take a sloth selfie with him!
KSTR teamed up to help the Costa Rican government to promote “No Selfies With The Wildlife”. The only wildlife that can be in pictures with humans are Plush Wildlife.
This is our KSTR Staff to promote “No Selfies With The Wildlife”.
Please remember to not take pictures with the wildlife, it is very stressful for them! They are voiceless so we are speaking for them!
Many of you know that we have been teaching people not to feed the wildlife for over 15 years. It started with 7 Reasons Not to Feed the Wildlife, then went to 10 Reasons and we are thrilled to say that there a now 11 Reasons because the government is enforcing the law if anyone does feed them.
We have been disappointed to hear that people are still feeding them for personal and professional gain. The Mangrove Tours are feeding the white-faced monkeys to get them to come onto the boats and even let the tourists feed them. Hotels and Restaurants are feeding them to bring more tourists to their businesses.
We have said for a long time that we are going to publish the names of the locations that are feeding them. We never have because we want to live in harmony with the community. But this is too important to allow it to happen anymore. So please save the wildlife by reporting anyone feeding the wildlife to:
If you are feeding the wildlife, you now know you should stop. If you don’t stop, we owe it to the wildlife to publish your name with the local media and report you.
Wishing you all the best for the coming year, 2020!
The Kids Saving the Rainforest staff