Kids Saving the Rainforest and Blue Banyan Inn: A Symbiotic Relationship

Blue Banyan Inn

Did you know that Kids Saving the Rainforest manages a Bed & Breakfast to help raise funds to save the rainforest and wildlife in the area? We realize that very few people do!  KSTR has been managing the Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) for over 3 years now!

BBI consists of 3 luxury cottages with a panoramic view of the mountains, a spectacular swimming pool, and a beautiful restaurant for daily breakfasts, just10 minutes from Maxi Pali, 15 minutes from Quepos and Marina and 30 minutes from the National Park/main beach.

Even more great news, BBI lets volunteers use the gorgeous swimming pool whenever they have down-time! Plus there is a great labyrinth and even a nursery that grows food for sloths.  Internet is great with a KSTR tower. BBI also lets KSTR use the kitchen and restaurant where the volunteers have a group lunch daily from 12 – 1:30 PM.

To make it even sweeter, BBI offers the B&B lobby as a greeting area for KSTR’s tours, a refreshment area after the tours, and has lent space for KSTR set up a store to raise money for the wildlife in their care. KSTR also has a volunteer center (that can sleep up to 18 people) on the property, for volunteers residing on the property.

You can’t ask for a more generous opportunity than that and KSTR is extremely grateful!

Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) is owned by a family who actually live on the property. So it is a win-win situation and Kids Saving the Rainforest wants to thank the Braman/Thompson family for their generosity. And a special thanks to Chip and Jennifer for having the KSTR Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue Center location on their property. Learn more at bluebanyaninn.com

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Release of Squirrel Monkeys at KSTR

Margarita with Squirrel monkeys for articleBy Volunteer Margarita Samsonova

Kids Saving the Rainforest is in the process of establishing a reintroduction program for squirrel monkeys. Central American squirrel monkeys, also known as Saimiri oerstedi, are nearly extinct in Panama and are threatened in Costa Rica. There are only 4,000 individuals living in the wild, mostly in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks, located on Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

The low population of Central American squirrel monkeys makes reintroduction programs of these species very important to sustain the population and help reproduction. In order for the release to be successful, the monkey’s behavior and its predator responses are tested to see what chance the animal has to survive in the wild. The project requires sustained long term observations and research to ensure a successful reintroduction into the wild.

One of our volunteers, Margarita Samsonova, is dedicating her time to observing candidates for release and has been testing their ability to respond to predators. The predator experiments were set on the monkeys six times using the scents of predators who are also rehabilitating in the rescue center. Scents of animals who hunt squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica such as dogs, white- faced monkeys, kinkajous and hawks were used along with their recorded vocalizations to test predator response. Pieces of cloth were placed in the predators’ enclosures overnight and then placed with the vocal recordings in the squirrel monkey enclosure the next day.

A few of the squirrel monkeys had previously been kept as pets, so it is crucial to observe their reaction and behavior to get an idea of whether the release would be successful or not. It was observed that only four of the six candidates displayed “appropriate” behavior and reacted to the predator sound and smell the same as a squirrel monkey in the wild would. Two of those candidates didn’t approach the cloth with scent, meaning that they sensed the predators’ presence and didn’t want to risk danger. The other two squirrel monkeys, after some time observing the cloth, did get the food from it but retreated to eat it, which could mean that they saw no presence of predators and decided to quickly grab the food—a normal behavior of squirrel monkeys in the wild. The remaining two individuals came right to the cloth once it was put out; they didn’t react to any vocalizations and didn’t move from the cloth to eat the food, which could mean that those animals were domesticated and may have lost their natural instinct.

The testing of behavior will continue until the beginning of April and the planned release is in mid-April. It is believed that pre-release monitoring and experiments will help to determine an estimation of which of the candidates would have high survival rates during reintroduction.

Making a Difference

Essay award winner Jennifer Mooney and Daughter Ella Quepolandia Sept 2015By Volunteer Anne Hill

Jennifer Mooney came to Costa Rica with a desire to see “a real jungle.” She left with a desire to change the world.

After traveling to Manuel Antonio and learning about the efforts of Kids Saving the Rainforest, Jen realized two things. The first was that the rainforest is a vital and vanishing resource that must be protected.

“My heart will forever remain with the amazing creatures of Costa Rica and their fight to survive in a world filled with change and development,” she noted.

The second was that children with a dream can make a profound difference. Inspired by the story of Janine Licare and Alison Livingstone, the two 9-year-olds who started KSTR in 1999 to protect the endangered rainforest ecosystem, she wanted to impart that same passion and courage to her 7-year-old daughter.

When she arrived back in the states, Jen took action. Her employer, Norwex, announced an essay competition to support non-profit organizations engaged in environmental protection efforts. A grant of $5,000 would be issued to the NGO nominated by the employee who wrote the winning essay. In an impassioned commentary, Jen wrote of the work of KSTR, describing its Monkey Bridge program, sanctuary, and efforts to protect and rehabilitate endangered animals in the Costa Rican rainforest, and to preserve and restore the native habitat.

In her essay, Jen wrote: “KSTR’s efforts with both animal rehabilitation and release, as well as rainforest conservation, no doubt contribute to quality of life improvement, not just for the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area but globally as well. I am grateful to them for all they do and know that if the world’s rainforests are not preserved, the entire world will suffer great loss.”

Last week, Jen learned that her essay had won the competition. Because of her effort, KSTR will receive a $5,000 grant to support its facilities and procure additional acreage.

But Jen didn’t stop at the macro level. She set out to encourage the kids in her daughter Ella’s Girl Scout troop to follow Janine’s and Alison’s example. She shared with them the story of KSTR and encouraged them to come up with their own ideas for changing the world.

“I wanted my daughter and her fellow Brownies to follow the example of Janine and her friend and recognize the importance of a dream and how great an impact you can make on people, animals and the world if you apply creativity, perseverance and heart to that dream.”

If you would like to know more about Kids Saving The Rainforest, please visit us on Facebook,  log onto our website at http://www.kidssavingtherainforest.org, or take a Wildlife Sanctuary Tour where 100 percent of the profits go to saving the rainforest.  Contact info@kstr.org for more information.

KSTR Thanksgiving Updates

KSTR has a lot to be thankful this year! 

We have been able to continue our mission of saving the rainforest and the wildlife in it a day at a time!  We want to thank those of you who have supported us through the years, and to give people visiting a chance to help too by taking a tour of our Sanctuary, where 100% of the proceeds go to the wildlife in our sanctuary.  See below for more information.

KSTR’s wildlife educational tour is growing by leaps and bounds.  The tour is from 9 to 12 Noon every day except Tuesdays.  You will get to see lots of wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild and you will have a view of a baby sloth eating breakfast behind the clinic windows.
After the tour you can shop in our store, eat a delicious snack and swim in a beautiful pool before heading out.  Transportation is included: Adults $60 Kids under 12, $45.  And the best news is that 100% of the proceeds go to feed, treat, and enrich the wildlife in the sanctuary!  So come out to the tour and help us to save the rainforest all at the same time!!  Contact Chip at chip@kstr.org or call 4033-0091

We also have great news for sloth lovers out there:

We have a new position for a volunteer/intern in our sloth nursery!  We have lots of baby sloths that need care!  It is a volunteer position so there is a fee of $800 per month for room and board at our beautiful location, http://www.bluebanyaninn.com, and we need someone for 6 months. This is a dream position so hurry up and apply!  There is no university in the world that could teach you what you will learn with us for a lot less money than a university!  Contact sam@kidssavingtherainforest.org for more information.

KSTR and The Sloth Institute (TSI) are helping to save more and more orphaned sloths and release them into the wild.  The release location is up and running at Tulemar! (Not open to the public)

America’s PBS (Public Broadcasting System) bought the rights to BBC1’s hit 2 part series featuring KSTR. It was shown in September to a very successful following.  It is called Nature’s Miracle Orphans, a Second Chance (You can find it here).

KSTR has received a very generous donation of land to reforest 45,000 trees. The land was a teak farm and KSTR will be reforesting with indigenous and fruit trees to provide a corridor for the squirrel monkeys as well as other wildlife.  The new rainforest will also have trees to provide them shelter, plus insects and fruit in the trees that they can eat.  KSTR will harvest the fruit to feed the wildlife in their care at our rescue center and sanctuary.   Finalization of the property transfer will be in April, which is the start of rainy season so it will be the perfect time to start planting saplings.

KSTR is in the process of creating an educational center to house more volunteers, interns, students, biologists, wildlife vets, and researchers. This is a very exciting project that will help save the rainforest in many new ways!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tales from the Wildlife Rescue Center

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Raising and Preparing a Kinkayou for a Life in the Wild
By Pia Martin DVM, KSTR Wildlife Vet

Kinkayous (Potos flavus) and in Spanish “Martillas”, are medium size mammals (40-55cms long, weighing 2-3kg), brownish colored from the Procyonid family. This means they are nocturnal, live in pairs or by themselves and are arboreal and terrestrial; just like raccoons (Procyon lotor) and coatis (Nasua narica). However, they have unique characteristics that make them very special in the rainforest. For example: although they are categorized as carnivores, they do not eat meat. Their diet is basically fruits, flowers, and rarely they will eat a bird’s egg or an insect. They have a 5 inch tongue that helps them get nectar from flowers making them pollinators. Their ankles and wrists can rotate more than most mammals helping them climb up and down trees and walk in branches easily. They also have a long prehensile tail that can wrap itself around a branch and hold on to most of the animal’s weight so it can hang and reach for a fruit in a lower branch.

They are endangered due to the loss of their habitat (deforestation, forest fragmentation, civilization), they were hunted for food in the past and also to use their coat as the bristles in paintbrushes. They are also caught and sold in the pet trade. Here in Manuel Antonio, kinkajous are common but difficult to observe since they only come out at night and stay mainly in the trees. Their main threats are electrocutions, being hit by cars, and attacks by dogs.

Last year we received a very small, furry animal with a huge head; small eyes and long tail. It was a newborn kinkajou found by a woman in Parrita who was walking towards her house and spotted him on the ground by himself. She gave him to MINAET and they brought him to us.

Raising a kinkajou is definitely a extraordinary situation. At first we had to syringe feed him formula with probiotics, and he slept all day and all night. As he was growing we changed to a bottle and started introducing fruits and veggies, and put him into a playpen with stuffed animals, branches, ropes, and live trees.

Now, that he feeds on his own, is very active at night, and he is starting to search for his independence, we are beginning to do a soft release. Every night, the animal caretaker and me, open his cage and let him come out. He follows us into the jungle, just like he would follow his mom. We are training him to explore the world, search for his food using his sense of smell, hide from predators or unknown noises and get away from people. We are letting him climb up very tall trees and develop strong muscles in his hind legs, forearms, and tail so that he will feel secure moving in the canopy of the trees. Every time he achieves a little challenge we give him a prize- a small piece of grape or really sweet mango. It is difficult since we have to do it at night and we are always looking out for snakes and also afraid that he might run away before he is ready and that we will not be able to catch him.

But for the time being, he is still used to us so he is not leaving yet; but when the time comes and he knows how to find food, shelter, and company, he will leave and follow his instinct. We just need to prepare him well to survive and reproduce in the rainforest, just as he was meant to be; free and happy.

What Should You Do If You Find A Wild Animal In Need?

Slide1By María Pía Martín, DVM, Wildlife Veterinarian, Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving The Rainforest has a Wildlife Rescue Center. It works in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Technology (MINAET) to look after the wellbeing of native wild animals. Thanks to Good Samaritans we are able to rescue sick, injured or orphan animals, rehabilitate them and then release them back to the wild.

In Costa Rica, many people with the best intentions find animals in need and want to help. The best option is to take the animal to an experienced veterinarian with permission of MINAET.

The first step is to determine if the animal is really in need. Is this animal unable to feed, to hide, or to get away? Is it bleeding? Has it been electrocuted? Has it been run-over by a car? Is it vomiting or does it have diarrhea?
If you answer yes any of these questions then the animal probably is in need of help.

Is it an orphan?
It’s important to do a correct identification of the species and then look for information about their behavior.
For example, some parents leave their baby by itself while they are looking for food, like deer. In other cases, the lonely animal is just looking for a mate, like male monkeys leave their troop for some time until they find a female from another troop (genetic diversity) to procreate. However, in other species, moms can leave their baby behind if they feels it is sick (like sloths), so sufficient time should always be given to allow the mom to come back.
Please call us if you see a baby by itself, we will gladly help you search for the best option.

What do I do if I find a sick or injured animal?
When you are going to grab it be very careful, remember that they are wild animals and are extremely frightened of people.  They may either run away (injured) or attack you. You can use a thick towel or leather gloves to protect yourself. Do not touch them with your bare hands; animals have diseases that may be transmitted to people. I recommend using latex gloves always and wash thoroughly with soap afterwards.
Place it in a box appropriate for its size with a dry and clean towel and keep it in a dark and calm place. Please call us to assist you in the next step.

Should I feed it? Should I give it any medication?
Please don’t. You may offer clean fresh water in a dish. Remember to keep it calm, away from dogs, cats, and other people while you find professional help.

The Wildlife Rescue Center’s number is 2777-2948, English and Spanish spoken.

Amy the Anteater Part One: The Queen of the Night

Slide1By: Intern Duncan Coleman

The darkness was setting in on the “secret” garden. The night’s grasping fingers had finally prevailed over the shining rays of the sun. My mind swam in a sea of uncertainty. Panic was overcoming me. Questions surfaced from the depths of my consciousness like so many crashing waves in a tempestuous ocean. Would she ever come down? Would she sleep in the tree all night? What would happen if I lost her? Will she die?! A bloodthirsty swarm of mosquitoes now descended upon me in the twilight dusk, buzzing in triumph at having secured a new host. Now I questioned whether I would make it through the night.

I came to be involved in this dire fiasco when I decided to take Amy on a walk in the Secret Garden. Amy was an anteater. She had reached her full adult size and was a sight to behold. She was the queen of the night, garbed in a flowing black jacket over her broad grey shoulders. Her beauty knew no bounds. For, she possessed an untamed, wild spirit within her that all the more enhanced her majestic figure. Amy, however, was scarred by the merciless hand of life. She was attacked by a dog. In the struggle for her continued existence she lost her right front claw and badly injured her left paw. It was in this deplorable condition that KSTR found her; bleeding, afraid, and desperate for help.

Then… she arrived. When I first laid my eyes upon her I could not help to stand aghast, awestruck by her. It was as if she was the sun and I was the sole beholder of the dawning of the world. She came into my view with all her golden glory, all her crimson creation, and all her maroon majesty. I was caught, helpless to escape from the web of wonderment that now seemed to envelop my heart.
Amy gathered her strength in the wildlife rehabilitation clinic at KSTR. As each day faded into the next, Amy grew stronger. The healing ointment, the fresh termites, the cosy anteater abode, and the unconditional love of her caretakers sped Amy’s recovery.

Yet, for all this, I longed to take her out into the Secret Garden to see her in all her glory. I hoped for a glimpse, a small taste of what it was like to see her in the wild. In my eyes, she was but a reflection of her true, unbridled beauty outside of her natural environment. She was a moonlit marvel, masking the true, raw, blazing flames of her innermost soul. Taking Amy to the Secret Garden was the only way I could peer into her that natural inferno of the purest beauty.
The Secret Garden is the paradise for anteaters. When you enter the garden, you enter from high above. Trekking downwards, you can see an expansive meadow surrounded by towering rainforest trees to the right. These trees act as the gatekeepers to the garden, sheltering it from wandering eyes. A small gurgling brook runs through the meadow, which feeds into a stream that flows on one side of the garden. The grass grows long and green. The butterflies glide across the meadow this way and that. Wild monkeys can be faintly heard in the distance. Aromas of fresh citrus fruit and blossoming hibiscus can be smelled in the breeze. The birds fill the air with sweet melodies that seem to briefly touch the soul with each chirp. In this land, a bountiful feast of ants and termites beckons anteaters across the land to climb up the leafy trees and lap up the juicy morsels.

Soon enough, I found myself with Amy in this veritable Anteater Eden. I watched from afar as she climbed in a tree dressed ornately in lush, light-green bromeliads. Even without her front claw, she climbed with a grace that I had never before witnessed. Her movements were slow and calculated, yet absolutely effortless, as if flying on the whims of the wind or swimming with the currents of the ocean. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped her graceful sail through the branches. In drowsy ant-induced ecstasy, Amy fell asleep in the tree.

And so… the darkness crept into the garden, the mosquitoes descended upon me, and my mind became awash in a tempestuous sea of unanswerable questions. I paced back and forth. I worried and fretted over what to do. My radio did not work and I had no headlamp to see Amy. Worst of all, my exposed legs and arms were getting attacked by a never ending onslaught of vicious mosquitoes.

In a frenzied panic, I ran. I ran up the hill all the way to the clinic. I told the others what had happened, snatched a headlamp, a working radio, and a rain jacket. With these items in tow, I raced back to the Secret Garden, hoping that she was still asleep in the same tree where I had left her.

To my amazement, Amy still lay asleep in the same nook of the tree that I left her in. Relief welled over me and I thanked the heavens for her continued slumber. My feeling of relief was short lived when the thought of staying in the Secret Garden overnight crossed my worried mind. Bloodthirsty monsters were – quite literally – draining me of life, weakening my resolve and willpower to continue. In a spout of hysteria, which was partly due to my predicament, I began to think that what I was watching was not really an anteater at all, but a part of the tree that looked like an anteater.

I called over the radio for someone to come down and ameliorate my fear of my own mind playing tricks on me. The two brave souls who came down to the Secret Garden, Dani and Kristy, assured me that I was in fact looking at an anteater. With this assurance, I left the secret garden, vowing to return at dawn. The decision would later come to haunt me…
To be continued in September’s Quepolandia…..stay tuned!