Karma Saving the Rainforest
by Karma Casey
Hello fellow readers! Its Karma Casey, the spokes kid from Kids Saving
The Rainforest, a wildlife rescue and sanctuary in Quepos, Costa Rica. This month I am dedicating my article to a kind hearted, sweet souled, three toed sloth named Monty.
I am very sad to report he passed away after spending nine months in Kids Saving The Rainforest’s wildlife nursery and making a huge place in the hearts of everyone who knew him.
About nine months ago, Monty was seen falling from a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. The Kids Saving the Rainforest professional wildlife rescue team rushed to save him, and he was brought in to the KSTR veterinary clinic where he was examined by the vet, Dr. Carmen Soto.
Dr. Soto was unable to find any visible injuries, and he was held for a few days under
observation to ensure he would not start developing any new signs of injury or illness. At the time he fell, Monty was about six to seven months old.
Within days, Monty seemed fine and Dr. Soto determined he was ready to be released
back into his rainforest home at the National Park. However, as Monty was being observed following his release, he soon fell again. Monty was returned to Kids Saving the Rainforest for further examination. The KSTR team would not give up until they knew what was wrong with little Monty, and how he could be helped.
After more days of observation and examination, the nursery manager and the clinic team at KSTR began to suspect there was something not quite right going on with Monty’s heart. Our friends at SINAC, a government agency in Costa Rica that works with the National Park system and helps wildlife, helped give Monty a ride to an appointment the KSTR team had made for him at a cardiologist all the way in San Jose. What a long way for such a little sloth!
The cardiologist, a heart specialist, diagnosed Monty with two congenital heart defects.
That means he was born with these problems. Dr. Soto contacted some people she knew who were using experimental medicine for heart problems, but sadly, Monty was not a candidate and there was nothing that modern medicine could do to cure him. What’s more, Monty’s heart problems were progressive, which means they would only get worse and worse as time went on.
Monty returned from his appointment at the cardiologist, and it was official that he would never be able to survive on his own in the wild again. Everyone who was rooting for Monty to go free was saddened by this news. However, the dedicated team at Kids Saving the Rainforest was determined to give Monty the best possible life that they could. Dani Dion, the nursery mom, did everything she possibly could to make every day calm, stress free, and as happy as possible for little Monty.
Fresh leaves like Guarumo (cecropia), mango, and Monty’s favorite, cinnamon leaves,
were collected for him daily with care, picking the best leaves to offer to him as he was quite a picky eater!
Monty was brought out to climb in a special jungle gym with a beautiful view of the
surrounding rainforest. He was given fresh water and spent time basking in the sun or cooling off in the shade.
Monty was well-cared for and loved by so many in his nine precious months at Kids
Saving the Rainforest. Had the rescue team not brought him in, Monty very likely would not have made it past that fateful day he fell from a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. But poor Monty’s heart was bound to stop beating sooner or later, and one day this February his little heart made its last beat. His heart just couldn’t take the stress any longer.
This is a lesson we can learn from Monty that will help all of us respect other sloths and not put them under unnecessary stress. Three toed sloths have delicate little hearts and they cannot take the stress of being handled. While Monty had a defective heart from the beginning and he was kept in a stress-free environment by experienced wildlife professionals, any sloth who is handled or messed with by humans might suffer the same fate and die of a heart attack.
It is illegal in Costa Rica to handle any wildlife, but sloths, in particular, are solitary and
want to be left alone. Never hold or attempt to touch a sloth, and if someone is charging money for a “sloth experience” and what you think you want most is a photo with you cuddling a cute little sloth, think of Monty. As soon as you pick up that sloth, his poor little heart will start racing, and he will be under a tremendous amount of stress. If you care about sloths, respect them by observing them in nature up in the trees where they belong. Do not support anyone allowing you to handle wildlife, and since it’s illegal, you can report it to MINAE or SINAC, the government groups in charge of making sure animals are wild and free in Costa Rica.
Even though Monty died and many hearts at Kids Saving the Rainforest were broken, this special little three toed sloth had a love, and care filled life. Sometimes that’s what working with animals is about. Giving them a good, natural life, and sometimes you have to say good bye. But Monty the sweet three toed sloth will always be remembered. If you would like to know more about Monty, go to the Kids Saving The Rainforest Facebook page. And a big thanks to our nursery mom, Dani. She cared so much about Monty, and all the rest of the animals, too.
That’s going to sum up this article. And remember, if you ever find injured or orphaned
wildlife, send a WhatsApp message to 88-ANIMAL. This goes directly to our veterinarian team, and they can come to the rescue!
Be the change! Read me next month!
In loving memory of Monty
Karma Saving the Rainforest
Hello Quepolandia readers! Its Karma Casey, spokeskid for KSTR. I just got back to
Costa Rica, and I’m ready to help you learn more about saving the rainforest!
This month I will be talking to you about the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife rescue
center, and some of the animals being helped there!
First things first, every animal that comes into KSTR goes straight to the veterinary
clinic. There our clinic team comes to the rescue! They determine what is wrong with the animal,
and quickly do what is needed to help save them. Take for example Senor Dona, a two-toed sloth
I talked about in one of my previous articles.
Dona had a very bad day, getting electrocuted and then falling onto the road and being hit
by a car. But luckily Kids Saving the Rainforest came to the rescue! Poor Dona used to be
paralyzed from the waist down. As you may have read in my other article, the KSTR
clinic/rescue team have tried everything they can to help Dona, even teaming up with an
acupuncturist to help this very determined sloth regain the use of his back legs.
I am very happy to tell you Dona is doing really good! He has now graduated from the
clinic and is in the rescue center, or rehab as it is called at KSTR. Rehab is the next stage towards
release back into the wild. This area is far away from everyone, making it more natural for the
animals. Some animals stay for a few short weeks until they are ready to go, but some like Dona
have a long journey ahead of them before they can get back to their rainforest home.
After rehab is the next stage towards release, Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a really cool
project that is a big football field sized area with a large wall around it so the animals are inside.
It has lots of great trees for animals to climb in and eat leaves and grow strong and stay wild.
Before being returned to their jungle homes, many animals are brought to Boot Camp for what is
called a “soft release”. This is practice to see if the animal is ready to go back into the wild. Can
it find food, water, shelter? Does it go up to humans or does it stay in the trees where it belongs?
Right now three healthy young two-toed sloths are roaming free in Boot Camp. Their
names are Patty, Grubby, and Speedy (aka Jorge). Originally orphaned by their mothers and
raised in the KSTR wildlife nursery, these three have been busy practicing all their wild skills are
almost ready to be released!
If the Kids Saving the Rainforest rescue center team feels the animal is ready for release,
it is brought back and set free into the rainforest home it came from! This is the best part of
wildlife rescue, when the animal everyone has worked so hard to save gets to go back into the
wild where it belongs. Let’s all keep our hopes up for our friend, Dona the sloth, and all the other
animals the KSTR team is so hard at work saving.
If you find injured or orphaned wildlife that needs help, send a WhatsApp message to 88-
ANIMAL. Our veterinary team can help come to the rescue! Speaking of that, Kids Saving the
Rainforest is in need an ambulance to help in animal emergencies. Learn more at kstr.org about
how you can help us reach our goal and help rescue animals in need!
Until next month readers. Keep it wild!
Karma Saving the Rainforest
By guest writer
Hello Quepolandia readers. Every month you hear from Karma Casey, the
spokeskid at KSTR, an extraordinary young girl I am extremely proud to call my
daughter. This month, Karma is out of the country visiting friends and family in the
United States. She asked that I write to you this month in her place until she can get
back to Costa Rica and continue doing her part to save the rainforest.
Karma and I moved to this beautiful country over a year ago to pursue her
dreams of helping wildlife. Through volunteering with Kids Saving the Rainforest,
Karma has had the extraordinary pleasure of being able to make her dreams come true.
If you’d like to volunteer with KSTR, families with kids 12 and up are welcome to join the
Day Volunteer program!
When we came to this country, Karma’s biggest dream of all was to one day grow
up and become the Nursery Mom, the surrogate mother who cares for all the orphaned
and injured baby wildlife at KSTR. While she has now also developed the aspiration to
become a wildlife veterinarian, gaining the skills she needs to be the one who can really
save an animal’s life in those critical rescue moments, the care of baby wildlife is still
something that is near and dear to Karma’s heart.
Since she’s not here this month to tell you herself, I thought I’d give you a peek
behind the curtain of the wildlife nursery here at KSTR, and introduce you to one
extraordinary Mama who Karma really looks up to.
Dani Dion is the Nursery Manager of the KSTR wildlife nursery, although we
affectionately call her the Nursery Mom. (A behind the camera kind of girl, Dani prefers
to only show off photos of the babies in her care.) Dani has been volunteering with Kids
Saving the Rainforest for 6 years, working extremely hard in all areas. She has spent
time in the sanctuary, the veterinary clinic, the rescue center, and now has dedicated
herself completely to the orphaned wildlife in the nursery.
The babies that end up in the nursery have usually either been abandoned by
their mothers who sensed a problem with them, or their mothers were killed. All too
often, these deaths are caused by human encroachment, whether it is the animal being
electrocuted, struck by a car, attacked by a dog, etc. They are often weak, ill, and scared.
The babies are often placed with plush stuffed animals to cling to, replicating the
comfort they would have had from clinging to their wild mothers.
Dani works around the clock providing the babies with the care they need, while
still respecting their wild nature and giving them their best start on their journey back
into the jungle. The youngest ones need to be fed every two hours through the night, and
Dani is on call to provide them whatever they need, whether it be milk, medicine, fluids,
a tree climbing lesson, or acting as a cheerleader while a young sloth learns to poop. You
will often see her with a bag of leaves slung over one shoulder as she collects wild foods
for the young animals in her care.
The nursery is a restricted area kept far away from the stress other humans
might place on the recovery of the babies, or their chance at release back into their
rainforest homes. Only Dani, her nursery intern, and the vet visit this area, keeping the
babies safe, calm, healthy, and wild. Since you can’t visit the nursery, I’ve brought some
of the babies to you! Here they are:
Fozzie, a Two-Toed Sloth
Scnozzy, a Tamandua Anteater
Oliver, a White-tailed deer
Gonzo, a Chestnut Mandibled Toucan
Monty, a Three-Toed Sloth
JoJo, a White-Faced Capuchin Monkey
On that note, this Mama is signing out. Next month, my daughter Karma will be
back in paradise and ready to teach you more about how to help save the rainforest and
make the world a better place. In the meantime, if you find orphaned or injured wildlife
in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area, send a Whats App Message to the Kids Saving the
Rainforest veterinary clinic staff at 88-ANIMAL and they can help!
Pura Vida From a Day Volunteer, Maddie Abene
By Maddie Abene
Soothing sounds, beautiful views, diverse wildlife, and only a week to take it all in!? Costa Rica
is unlike any place I’ve ever been. Upon my arrival, my mind was racing with ideas of how I was
going to get the very most out of my trip. As an Environmental Studies Major at University of
California Santa Cruz, I’m typically curious about different ecosystems and eager to interact
with wildlife wherever I am in the world. The two-hour drive from San Jose Airport gave me
plenty of time to take in the scenery of the mountainous jungle and ask my driver Oscar any
and all questions I had about Costa Rica. I learned everything from the
economic/environmental effects of Costa Rica's biggest industry (Palm Oil) to what species of
tree leaves I should use to make henna-like face paint (Teak).
Excited to learn more about my home for the week, I did some research and found a nearby
animal rescue center that I could volunteer at: Kids Saving The Rainforest. I was excited to hear
from locals that this sanctuary is one of the most renowned in all of Costa Rica! I immediately
contacted the president and Operational Director of KSTR, Jennifer and Chip. They responded
promptly and were very helpful. To my surprise, my younger brothers, Jake and Max, wanted to
join me in this adventure. KSTR sent a taxi to pick us up early Monday morning. The drive
through the palm tree forest was scenic and bumpy. There were water buffalo hauling carts of
the palm fruits and goats crossing constantly.
We arrived at KSTR/Blue Banyan Inn around 9am and started off with a tour to become familiar
with the site and what our mission would be for the day. As soon as the tour came to an end
our work began. Our mentor gave us rubber gloves and brushes and led us to a large cage
where we would clean and design a new habitat for the Kinkajous. These small mammals are
adorable yet vicious as they're nocturnal and don't like to be bothered during the daytime. The
zookeeper and another KSTR staff member handled these animals regularly and made it look
easy. Once the Kinkajous were out of their cage is when Jake, Max and I cut zip ties, removed all
the old branches, took to ground and got to scrubbing. Before we knew it the habitat went
from looking like a 3 star residence at best to 5 stars, complete with clean walls/floors and fresh
branches strategically placed for the Kinkajous climbing enjoyment. It was important that we
made their new habitat slightly different than the last since these animals need some variation
in their lives to mimic the constantly changing and growing rainforest.
It was getting humid and I was getting tired...lunch couldn't have come at a better time! KSTR
provided us with a delicious typical Costa Rican meal of beans and rice, chicken, salad, and
plenty of beverages. We spent some time refueling and chatting it up with Chip and the other
volunteer siblings who were coincidentally visiting from the Bay Area. I was particularly
impressed by their involvement with KSTR and the video chatting they do with other kids from
all over, spreading the word about the cause. I'm hoping to join forces with them once we're all
back in the Bay. After finishing lunch and taking a quick dip in the pool, it was time for us to
feed the animals. Some went to the kitchen to chop up fruits and vegetables. The other half of
us went with the sanctuary manager to find and capture giant Golden Orb Spiders (which is way
more fun than it sounds). Once we had about ten spiders in a bucket we were ready to go. We
went from cage to cage filling each animals bowl and feeding them spiders by hand. In the
midst of it all it began to rain and we were all laughing, dripping wet, and having the best time
ever. We proceeded to clean up our messes then and walked back to the main lodge where we
would finish up around 4pm.
Costa Rica will take me a lifetime to explore to my full satisfaction. In just one day on July 11
Kids Saving The Rainforest Sanctuary & Rescue Center gave me my first real opportunity to do
more than just admire and understand nature through a textbook or a tour. I felt like I played
a vital role in an ecosystem. It was rewarding to see the difference that our single day
of volunteering made. This was a pivotal experience for me in that it helped me to discover
myself. I now know for a fact that environmentalism is my calling and my niche.
I'm very grateful for KSTR and all of the work they continue to do to inspire people to preserve
and protect this small but important part of the world. I hope to spread this mentality on a
global scale by sharing my experience and educating others about the ways to make a positive
change through ecotourism. It's important to remember that we affect nature as much as
it affects us.
Hi again Quepolandia readers! It’s Karma, the spokeskid from
Kids Saving the Rainforest!
This month I have a very important message to share with you, and that is about the importance of boating safety and protecting the
very special marine animals that share this beautiful place in the world with all of us.
I learned this lesson from a graceful animal called the sea
turtle! Let me tell you how it happened: Recently, me and my
amazing mama were walking on the beach when we came across two lifeguards carrying something large out of the water. We went over to see what it was, and we realized it was a large Hawksbill sea turtle!
There were three big gashes cut into the shell. We hoped at first that we could call one of the groups in the area that work with sea
turtles to help rescue it. Unfortunately, this poor turtle was already dead and it was too late to help her. We asked one of the lifeguards named Jhonny Lopez, what had happened.
Jhonny teaches surfing lessons, and he also volunteers his time
as a lifeguard helping keep everyone safe on the beach. He explained
to us that the turtle had been sliced by the propeller of a boat and had
washed up on shore. Some people were not showing any respect to
the body, bothering it a lot, and he and the other lifeguard had
moved it to safety while the turtle was reported to MINAE, the
government agency who helps wildlife. My mama had their number
in her phone, so she sent a message right away!
Jhonny told us that many boats and jet skis come way too close
in the waves to the shore, and that is very dangerous for both
animals and people! He said this poor turtle might have been coming
in to shore to lay her eggs. Sea turtles always return to the beach they
were hatched in to lay their eggs, and this turtle Mama might have
been coming to this very same beach for years and years before the
boat took her life!
That was a very sad experience, but it was also a lesson. I knew I
was on the beach that day and saw the turtle for a reason, and now I
am going to spread her message and try to make a difference for all
the other amazing sea turtles who are still here with us.
Turtles all around the world are beginning to fade from this
planet. Danger from boats is just one of the threats they face.
First things first is marine debris. Due to littering, trash is
infesting the oceans, causing animals like turtles to come across it
very often. For a turtle, one of the main problems are plastic bags.
One of a turtle's main food source are jellyfish. And from a turtle's
point of view a plastic bag looks identical to a jellyfish. If the turtle
eats the plastic bag it will end up choking. They can also get caught in
all that plastic, stopping them from being able to swim, eat, or even
live! If you are fishing, make sure you don’t drop fishing hooks or
lines into the ocean as these are very dangerous to animals. Around
100,000 marine animals die a year from marine debris.
Lots of people every year travel to Costa Rica just to see sea
turtles lay their eggs, and later to watch the babies hatch and make
their way out into their ocean home. In November, I am very lucky I
will be joining my school Life Project Education to see some of these
baby hatchlings going out to the ocean for the first time! We will be
working with another great non-profit helping wildlife in this area,
the Matapalo Sea Turtle Conservation Project!
But we have to think of the turtles all the time, not just when we
can see them! If you are boating or using a jet ski, pay extra careful
attention to where you are going and avoid hitting any marine life
that might be floating there in the water! Slow down, and avoid
boating over beds of sea grass which is the sea turtle’s habitat! Have a
person on board whose job it is to watch out for any marine animals.
They can wear polarized sunglasses to cut down on the glare of the
sunlight on the water, making it easier for them to spot an animal
and avoid hitting it!
Don’t have lights on the beach at night. This can confuse turtles
who use the light of the moon to find their way to the water. Even
bonfires during nesting season can lead these turtles in the wrong
Last but not least, spread the word! If you see a problem like I
did, speak up and do something about it! The planet needs the help of
people like us who want to make it a better place!
Don’t forget, if you find orphaned or injured wildlife, send a
WhatsApp message to the Kids Saving the Rainforest veterinary
team at 88-ANIMAL and we can help! You can also take a guided tour
of our Wildlife Sanctuary every day except Tuesday at 9 am to meet
some amazing animals and learn about the important work we are
doing trying to save them. You never know, you might just see me
Photograph of Hawksbill sea turtle courtesy of Jhonny Lopez.