My photos have been misleading. There are not just sloths & monkeys at the center. There are a myriad of animals and tasks – enough that I didn’t get photos of everything.
Working at Jaguar Center was actually pretty hard. Very rewarding, but really hard. Jamie and I both lost weight and were too exhausted to exercise… Actually, I started losing too many electrolytes – the first week, I had leg cramps every day. Then I started a steady diet of potato chips. Problem solved.
A standard day for us went something like this:
- 5:30 am: Wake up. Have coffee and breakfast leisurely. Make lunch.
- 6:45 am: Begin the uphill 5k bike ride to work on our single gear bicycle. Not gonna lie, that bike ride really started to suck. By the time we got to work, I was already drenched in sweat (+25 to 30*, uphill, no gears to change – you’d be in the same boat!)
- 7:15 am: Arrive at work, get settled in
- 7:30 am: Start our shift! This usualy comprised of 1-2 hours of some form of manual labor (raking, sweeping, washing, shoveling); disinfect/sanitize ALL animal enclosures; feed & water the animals
- 9:00 am: Some monkeys (mostly females) go to the jungle to be separated from female tourists due to aggression. Jamie was almost ALWAYS responsible to do this. Imagine walking 1km through jungle farm fields with 2-5 monkeys wrapped around your upper body, and the monkeys body temperature is 2 degrees above ours???
- 9:30 am: Tours begin. I think we had time for a coffee break during 2 of our shifts. Normally no break. People split off into their mid-day duties to help with the tours: monkeys, sloths, or laundry
- 1:30 pm: Tours wrap up. Put all the animals away, or swap with the person in the jungle with the monkeys. Have lunch.
- 2:00/2:30 pm: Clean monkeys cage again; put away the Sloth Garden; afternoon feeding time for animals; and dishes.
- 3:00 pm: Bring all the monkeys back from the jungle. Again, normally Jamie helped!
- 3:15 pm: Bottle feed monkeys. Assist with random remaining tasks.
- 3:30 / 3:45 pm: Home time!
We had no idea we were going to have that much hands-on time with the animals. We also didn’t expect there to be SO MUCH work. I will say that it is very obvious how badly they need volunteers. The Center only has about 6 people on staff – and if you don’t know about maintenance in the Caribbean, it is never ending tune-ups, keep-ups, and repairs. The maintenance crew is always welding, hammering, sawing, replacing, fixing… the gardener is always raking, shoveling, wheelbarrowing… The kitchen lady is forever chopping fruit & veggies and doing dishes… the other staff are always cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping. Notice not one of them has time for the animals??? Only the volunteers take care of the animals! There is 1 manager, and then the 2 owners, but otherwise the animals and their enclosures are taken care of by US!
Anyway, we are on our last 2 days before we start heading home – 1 day to get to San Jose, and then up bright & early the next morning for our flight home.
Here are photos of other animals at the center! I didn’t get pics of everyone because, quite frankly, we were too busy!