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.
The Kids Saving the Rainforest staff