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Bucket List: Costa Rica’s Jaguar Rescue Center

Here kitty, kitty!

Costa Rica is synonymous with amazing weather, beautiful beaches, and some pretty lush jungles and wildlife. And no trip would be complete without a visit to the Parada Jaguar Rescue Center in Punta Cocles, where you can get your Dr. Doolittle on and talk to the animals.

The Jaguar Rescue Center isn’t a zoo; it’s a truly fascinating rescue and educational center. From monkeys to jaguars, sloths to reptiles, you’ll have a hands-on, up close experience with these rescued animals while they regain their strength to return to the wild. And because each admission counts as a donation to rehabilitating their rainforest guests, it’s worth swinging for the $50 private tour and take your time with your favorite critters.

The sloth station where you can get this close to the babies is a must. And of course playing with the monkeys is always good for the inner child. (Howler monkeys are usually on hand, but if you’re lucky you may spot a spider or capuchin monkey, too.)

Why the Jaguar? Well in 2007, founders Encar and Sandro were given a severely dehydrated baby jag to revive. Local farmers had murdered its mother because they suspected it of killing their goats. The duo provided round-the-clock care, but sadly, the little cub did not make it. A year later they opened the center in honor of the most hunted of the endangered species in the Americas.

If you have the time, the center also offers tours to the La Ceiba Natural reserve, the paradise into which they release the animals. Home to up to 90% of Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity, La Ceiba offers some pretty amazing natural experiences for visitors!

A trip to a rainforest to help out wildlife? We’re in.

Image Credit: Kris Wiktor/