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Las Pumas Rescue Shelter

Costa Rica's wildlife rescue shelter


This
This "cat-napping" margay was probably rescued from a poacher's net or found injured.

Deforestation in Costa Rica's wild and beautiful Guanacaste region was high in the mid 1960's, decreasing the habitat of many wild animals. Hunting and marketing of wild animals for pets also caused serious endangerment for Costa Rican wildlife.

Lilly Bodmer de Hagnauer, a Swiss woman who lived in Costa Rica, began taking in orphaned, displaced and injured animals. She provided them with medical care and a safe environment. Neighbours and others in Guanacaste started to bring her distressed wild animals when they heard of the good work she was doing. At one point, she was caring for some 160 different animals. She saved the lives of many rare and endangered creatures, successfully returning them to the wild when their rehabilitation was complete.

Lilly passed away in 2001, however the rescue shelter she began continues to operate as part of the Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area.


AN ASTONISHING COLLECTION OF COSTA RICAN WILDLIFE

Located 4.5 kilometers north of Canas, a city in Guanacaste on the international (Pan-American) highway, the shelter today generally has around 80 to 100 individual animals under its care, many of which are endangered species. The shelter specializes in protecting wild cats that are close to extinction due to the disappearance of their natural habitat.

Here the visitor can photograph the normally-elusive jaguar and five other species of native Costa Rican felines: puma (also known as cougar and mountain lion, depending on where it is found), ocelet, jaguarundi, oncilla and margay.

Visits are encouraged. You can take as much time as you like to stroll through the center. Helpful staff will answer your questions, but won't pester you. You can watch as they interact with the animals, cleaning their areas, feeding them and sometimes just talking with them. The atmosphere is informal and friendly, yet professional.

The powerful jaguar is an endangered species. It is rare to see one in the wild.
The powerful jaguar is an endangered species. It is rare to see one in the wild.

The Shelter provides safe haven for several parrots, macaws and other colorful, native Costa Rican birds.
The Shelter provides safe haven for several parrots, macaws and other colorful, native Costa Rican birds.

Other species of mammals and birds finding shelter at Las Pumas include the gray fox, coatimundi, white-faced monkey, white-tailed deer, paca, the keel-billed toucan, orange-fronted parakeet, red-lored parrot, scarlet macaw and others.

Costa Rica is famous for the enormous and diversified number of animals within its surprisingly-small land area. It is a wildlife photographer's paradise.

NOTE: The photographs on this page were taken in February 2005. Some animals pictured may no longer be at the shelter, having hopefully been released back to the wild. If you were to visit the shelter today, it is likely there will be different wildlife inhabitants there, with the actual variety dependent upon so many factors. Odds are that you will not be disappointed.


IT COSTS A LOT OF MONEY TO RUN A SHELTER LIKE THIS

The shelter, which also serves as a center of environmental education and scientific investigation, strives to provide the animals with surroundings similar to their natural habitat. This is difficult to do, but wildlife enclosures here contain living trees, hollow logs, plants and other features that the animals would encounter in the wild.

It's an expensive proposition. The shelter requires donations to keep it afloat. (Amazingly, it is not government-funded, although Government officials regularly bring in animals that have been seized from poachers.)

As a private non-profit institution, Las Pumas Rescue Shelter does not charge admission. Financial assistance comes from voluntary contributions from visitors and from the local sale of rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep and parakeets.

An alert-looking ocelet appears to be healthy and well-cared for, perhaps ready for release back into the wild.
An alert-looking ocelet appears to be healthy and well-cared for, perhaps ready for release back into the wild.

A volunteer staff is on hand to greet visitors in the Shelter's small office. Guides are available for groups. Other volunteers feed and care for the animals.
A volunteer staff is on hand to greet visitors in the Shelter's small office. Guides are available for groups. Other volunteers feed and care for the animals.

The shelter does not receive any financial support from the government of Costa Rica. During her lifetime, the pension that Lilly received from the Swiss government contributed to the maintenance of the shelter. The loss of her pension following her death has created a monetary shortfall.

If you would like to send Las Pumas Rescue Shelter a monetary gift, it would be greatly appreciated and will go towards the care and treatment of several unique and beautiful animals, including numerous endangered species.

Donations can be sent to:
FundaciĆ³n Hagnauer
Centro de Rescate Las Pumas
Apdo. 89-5700 Canas, Guanacaste
Costa Rica

Tel.: (506) 669-6044
Fax: (506) 669-6096


If you have the good fortune to travel to Costa Rica (or if you are perhaps already there), you will unquestionably enjoy a visit to this well-run wildlife shelter, and will find plenty of use for your camera. Try to fit a visit into your itinerary. You can't get much closer to so many animals that are so rarely seen anywhere else.

And when you see what a wonderful job is being done at this shelter with so little in the way of resources, you will perhaps make a donation that will help to keep them going. It would be nice to go back ten years from now, and find them still there.

There is a donations box on site at the Shelter, but it accounts for a very small percentage of the money needed to feed and care for the animals and to fund the shelter.
There is a donations box on site at the Shelter, but it accounts for a very small percentage of the money needed to feed and care for the animals and to fund the shelter.