We were picked up at the airport and driven to our destination, stopping for coffee and to see the crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks. A wonderful beginning. We arrived at the Blue Banyan Inn, KSTR, animal rescue where we were welcomed by Mackenzie, one of the amazing staff, who showed us to our cottage (very cute, comfortable beds, toilet, shower). He then showed us around the grounds and the sanctuary. We couldn't wait to start working!
We came back to an absolutely delicious lunch, including of course rice and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables etc. The whole staff sat together with volunteers. There were 5 volunteers the four of us and a girl from Scotland who became our very close friend. Chip and Jennifer, who started the whole project were incredibly warm, welcoming and energetic. Work started early the next morning after (the best) banana pancakes, eggs, fruit, coffee and orange juice served by Chip himself.
We cleaned and scrubbed cages, took out and washed all the dirty bowls, swept the stuck leaves of the paths in the sanctuary, prepared food, and learned about the animals. We were all there for them and we fell in love! Cooling off in the gorgeous pool, watching and discovering everything. The fruits, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the iguanas, the spiders and the myriad of butterflies like flowers in the air, constantly around us. Excellent buffet all together and back to work for the afternoon.
We met and became friends with the most amazing, interesting and passionate people. Volunteering at the KSTR table at Manuel Antonio Park was a whole new experience. A totally new way of life. We were free after to explore the park and the beaches. No words!
On the last day Chip insisted we go on a Catamaran for a morning of dolphins, snorkeling, totally unexpected delicious lunch, and slides into the ocean. It was very difficult to leave. Time seems to go at a different pace there. A week feels like two. I think we had about 5 mosquito bites between us and loved the weather, though hot and humid, with beautiful rain late afternoon. We all cannot wait foe our next adventure with you.
By Karma Casey
Greetings Quepolandia readers! Its Karma, the Kids Saving the Rainforest spokes- kid. This month’s article is about a VERY special someone. Have you ever heard of a sloth named Speedy?! (Some of you may know him by his nickname, Jorge.) Well, Speedy is a very unique two toed sloth who has just graduated from Boot Camp, KSTR’s pre-release area where sloths like Speedy learn how to climb trees and forage on their own to get ready for their release back into the wild. After a long journey here at KSTR, Speedy was just triumphantly set free back into his rainforest home! Let me tell you his story.
Speedy was rescued when he was only a few months old. He was tiny, only a kilogram! He had fallen from a tree near the Makanda Hotel in Manuel Antonio. Poor Speedy! The people at the hotel quickly called in the KSTR team. After a checkup by the veterinarian, KSTR attempted to reunite Speedy with his mother.
But sadly, while the hopeful team waited and waited while Speedy hung at a low branch in the tree where the mother was, and called out to his mother, she ignored him. Really mom sloth!? The mother sloth never came down for her son, so the team was forced to bring him back to KSTR. This is quite common in sloths, and one of the reasons why it’s so important to have wildlife rescue efforts like Kids Saving the Rainforest. The KSTR nursery is often busy with orphans, like Speedy, and that’s where he was headed to next. A generous KSTR supporter named Nivea sponsored him, and that’s where he got his name!
The nursery mom Dani, and the helpful interns of Kids Saving the Rainforest, fed Speedy day and night, but that’s definitely not all there is to taking care of these babies. They teach them to climb, teach them which leaves to eat. They even have to teach them how to poop!! The orphans also have medical issues that must be taken care of by the veterinary staff. Caring for these animals is very difficult, and that’s why it should always be done by wildlife professionals like the KSTR team.
One day, when Speedy was climbing around in the small jungle gym outside the nursery at night, (since two-toeds like Speedy are nocturnal) something crazy happened. In the blink of an eye, one of the nursery interns, Emma, heard crazy hisses, and bangs, and other crazy noises coming from outside. She ran from inside the nursery, and she gasped at what she saw. A large male ocelot!! It was trying to attack Speedy from outside the cage!
Emma quickly called on the radio for help. But to everyone’s astonishment nothing could stop Speedy the great and powerful! He had scared away the ocelot with his hissing and swiping of his sharp claws! The ocelot was fierce, but not fierce enough for Speedy!
After that crazy experience, we knew Speedy was ready for any danger the dense jungle could bring him. As time passed, Speedy grew stronger and smarter as the days went on. He graduated from the nursery and moved on to rehab, and Boot Camp. Finally, the Kids Saving the Rainforest team was certain he was ready to be released into that dense jungle he had been preparing for his whole life.
For months in preparation for this day, the KSTR team was researching and having a very special tracking collar made for Speedy. What is this you ask? With this tracking collar on Speedy, we can easily find him and make sure he is doing okay. With this, we can prove that you can release sloths successfully.
You may not know, but many sanctuaries and rescue centers do not believe that sloths can be successfully rehabbed and released. Because of this, many get put into captivity. Here at KSTR, we want to give them the chance to be wild and free! We’ve released sloths successfully before, and now, with these tracking collars, we are going to collect important scientific data to show that yes, orphan sloths like Speedy can be raised by humans in a way that respects their wildness, and they can lead happy, successful lives, wild and free in the rainforest where they belong!
I was privileged to join the dedicated KSTR team as we trekked into the jungle for Speedy’s soft release, the biggest moment in my two years here in Costa Rica as the Kids Saving the Rainforest spokeskid. We were all so ready for Speedy the great and powerful to be finally get his chance to be free. He had been through a lot, and he was ready. The veterinary and nursery team was there, and of course, Dani, who had helped since he was a little baby. He had arrived at KSTR just before I moved to Costa Rica, and now he was finally stepping out into the wide world where he belonged. We watched quietly from a respectful distance as Speedy slowly began to climb into a tree and make his way to freedom.
It took him awhile, as sloths like to take their time about things, but finally Speedy made his way high into a tree! He reached out and climbed into another tree, then stopped when we hung high up in the dark trees above us as night began to fall. We walked out of the jungle, leaving Speedy to his newfound freedom.
Thanks to that cool tracking collar and members of the KSTR team, including a biologist, we’ve been successfully tracking Speedy for awhile now. He is busy exploring his rainforest home, and has been moving through the trees wonderfully, at night, of course, which we know because he is moving from place to place. Everyone here is so thrilled, and I hope you are, too! This is what can happen when wildlife professionals work hard to rehabilitate and release animals who deserve the chance to be wild and free. Send well wishes to our friend Speedy, the great and powerful.
Well, this wraps it up for this article. Remember, if you find injured or orphaned wildlife in the Manuel Antonio or Quepos area, send a WhatsApp us message to 88-ANIMAL. This goes right to the veterinary team, and they can come to the rescue!
Read me next time!!