Yare the Sloth – my BFF

Yare (pronounced YAR-eh) was by far my favorite sloth. He is about 1 yr old. Sloths stay with their mom until they are about 1.5 years, so Yare still needs to be taken care of. At first, Yare did not like me. It was quite the challenge to get him from his enclosure to the sloth garden for the day. But I kept talking to him and visiting him, and by my 3rd week, when I came for him he would reach out to me and climb right onto my front 🙂 At one point when it was pouring rain, I had the horrible job of having to cuddle him to keep him warm until the rain subsided 🙂


Workin’ with the Monkeys

Jamie worked with the monkeys almost exclusively his entire time at Jaguar Rescue Center. It was a lot of hard work, but also quite a rewarding and interactive experience!

A normal day…

  • Started at 7:30am with cleaning the horse area… which involved shoveling poop and then raking
  • By 9am, Jamie escorted the monkeys to the jungle… And spent the morning there
  • Someone would relieve him for lunch around 1pm
  • He would often return back to the jungle around 2pm to continue watching them in the jungle
  • All the while, the monkey cage would be cleaned twice and have 2 tours go through it!
  • Around 3pm, Jamie would bring the monkeys back from the jungle
  • Then, around 3:30, he would often help bottle feed the monkeys again before we headed home for the day

I took a lot of photos – but mainly of feeding time in the afternoon. Jamie and I never worked together, so it was tough to get pics of him! He couldn’t bring a camera with him most times because the monkeys would try to steal it and break it… so here we have photos taken by me, from outside the monkey enclosure – through the glass.

I tried working with the monkeys for 1 shift… and I really disliked it. The monkeys were just too much in my personal space… so I asked to not be on monkeys 🙂


Working at the Center in General – It’s not just Sloths & Monkeys ;)

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!

Working with the Sloths!

As promised, a little explanation about the sloths and what it is like to work with them! As I put this together, I realized I forgot to get a picture of my Sloth-BFF, Yare, so I will have to get one tomorrow and post later!

First off, sloths are mostly just as cute and cuddly as you would imagine. However, I did not know that 2 toed sloths (the babies mostly) were such aggressive little bullies. They actually reach out to bite – me, the Kinkajou, the Squirrel, the Agouti… Anyone! Sloths eat leaves in the wild; in the center we give them leaves and steamed veggies with vitamins. When they are hungry, they shove their faces in the food dish and eat like a horse.

So let me introduce you to Charlie and Jeremy, the “inseparable brothas from anotha motha”. They both lost their mommies and were brought into the Rescue Center at about the same time. We suspect they are only days apart in age. 2-Toed babies spend the first ~18 months or so with their mom, so it is good that Charlie and Jeremy have each other for affection and body heat. I can only pick them up wrapped up in a blanket because all they want to do is bite me. Baby sloth bites hurt!


And now here is Carlo, whom I call the “baby baby”. He is only a couple months old and is teeny tiny. He is also quite aggressive, but he is so tiny that none of his attempts result in success. I like Carlo, and Carlo likes hibiscus flowers. That’s about it.


And the new love of my life, Cuore. “Cuore” is heart in Italian. She is absolutely adorable and melts my heart like no other. How can you not love that face? If anyone doesn’t love Cuore, I’m officially dubbing you as emotionless. She is about 9 months old, and she also lost her mother. She is a 3-toed sloth; unfortunately she is now the only 3-toed at the center because we just lost Randi, the adult 3-toed a couple of days ago 😦 Anyway, everyone at the center loves Cuore. Unlike 2-toed sloths, 3-toed are not aggressive. I’m not sure if she likes being held, or if she simply lets us all hold her. She also likes to try to escape the nursery like 10 times every day.


Here is DJ. He is normally a released sloth, but he likes to come back to the center on his own as he feels safe… He is also showing symptoms similar to Parkinsons, so he’s staying with us for a while. I don’t interact with him much.


When I take care of the sloths, which has been most of my duty the ENTIRE time (boy, life is rough), I disinfect every single surface in their enclosures. I clean up sloth poo (which is like little deer poo, and doesn’t happen as often). I rake the floor and take out all the leaves and food dishes from the previous day. I replace all their leaves with fresh ones. Then I get to bring all the animals out to the nursery to show the tourists! I bundle up Charlie & Jeremy in a blanket and then put them in a tree. I talk to Yare and get him to come to me (he really seems to like me now), he grabs on and I haul him out to a tree, too. Then other volunteers or staff bring me the Kinkajou, the squirrels, Cuore, and sometimes Carlo! I also sweep the center and wash all the windows, but that’s boring so you don’t care about that!

Jamie and Randi; Randi just passed away a few days ago 😦


Corey the sloth


sloths & monkeys!

If these photos don’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will… This is pretty much a photo dump, I will put together a more informative post next week.


our first day was so awesome, i’m already posting about it

Well, day 1 is over and it was more fun and exciting than I ever imagined.

We started off by walking from our hotel to the center, thinking it was only 3kms. 50min later we strolled in… kinda hot and kinda tired :s

Anyway, we then began orientation; this consisted of a 1-hr tour to show us the ropes, followed by a 1-hr tour with the tourist groups. Once those were over, we took lunch… after lunch, we were assigned our first ask: lift the palm fronds up on the roof and look for giant grasshoppers and cockroaches. Um… not fun. It took quite a while, but Jamie was surprisingly good at it. Yay Jamie.

Next we were assigned to help other volunteers finish their tasks. I really, I mean really, assumed we’d be lackeys and just cleaning up poop. Nope. Not at all. While Jamie went to go get the monkeys from their daily ranforest/jungle playtime, the other new female volunteer and I were assigned to sloth duty! this meant one on one time (no cuddling though – they bite and scratch) time with the sloths! We were introduced to everyone, and fed them leaves. It was awesome. Then, I took out the possum with a healed broken leg to eat and go for a walk. THis meant watching him chew and chew and chew and chew and chew aaaand chew a dead mouse; follow by a walk (teasing him with his blankie to make him walk); and finally putting him about 3′ up in a little bush and making him climb down. The goal is to release every animal…hopefully the little possum only has a short stay!

While I was off with the sloths, possum, porcupine, agouti, and kinkajou… Jamie was with the monkeys. He borugh them backfrom the jungle, and then had to shovel poop. Ha-ha. But he was then rewarded with playtime and bottle feeding the monkeys… Absolutely adorable. I must note – apparently women are not allowed in the monkey cage anytime a female monkey is in there – this means I probably won’t have much time with the monkeys at all. That is totally ok. I get to play with sloths!