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!

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The Battle for a Wild Life

By Elle McGraw (Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern at KSTR)

No one enjoys losing. Especially when losing means life or death of beautiful animals. Everyday at our wildlife sanctuary, Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR), we embark on the battle of life or death in the case of each animal we receive. For some animals the battle is the immediate intervention between life or death; and for other, less severe cases, it consists of preparing goals in order for them to return to the wild. For all of us here at KSTR, we put our heart and soul into every animal that comes through our clinic.

In professions such as ours, it is imperative to detach yourself emotionally, at least until the animal prevails through the initial critical stages. However, in my personal experience, I have found this to be quite difficult, sometimes impossible. Each person at KSTR has dedicated their life to the welfare and conservation of wild animals, and when one’s love for animals runs so deep, it makes detaching oneself quite difficult. This lack of detachment can make the loss of an animal more painful, but the release that more rewarding.

I have seen some amazing things while working at KSTR, as well as endured the pain of loss. The enjoyment of seeing an animal released, continues to renew my spirits in order to continue the grueling work we do. I have witnessed animals that come in badly wounded from cars, electrocutions, and dog attacks, that survive in cases that seemed hopeless. There is never a time that we give up on an animal without trying, without putting our hearts into it.

In one case, of an agouti that was hit by a car, her hind leg was so severely broken that it required amputation. We knew that she required the amputation to save her life, but we didn’t know if she could ever be released with only three legs. When her wound was healed enough, we began taking her for walks, which quickly became runs. After a short time of her learning how to maneuver without her hind leg, she was too fast for us to catch. She fought her way through the pain of being hit by a car, infection, and the loss of a leg, all the way to release. We have since seen her a few times at the site we chose to release at.

The joy of seeing animals that would have otherwise been cast off, not only survive, but thrive back in the wild, has no equal to a wildlife rehabber. These are the moments we work so tirelessly for, these are the moments we live for. I cannot imagine a more rewarding job, or volunteer opportunity.

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A Sunday with no new BBC Nature’s Miracle Orphans show! What are we suppose to do now?

In case you didn’t know, KSTR was one of the sanctuaries featured on BBC One’s Nature’s Miracle Orphans. It was only a 2 part series and the world was mesmerized by the show! What did we have that made people lose their minds?

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Well, first we had easy on the eyes Presenter Max “Hug” Williams learning about our sloths and our anteater. so I’m sure that helped us out! 🙂

We also had our Wildlife Manager Sam Trull say,”You name it, I’ve probably done it with a sloth on me”. (Hmmmmmm…..) You saw her dedication to caring for the sloths as their new mama and doing everything possible that they make it until they are ready for release.

sam sloth

 

You also met Hannah Lindstrom who didn’t expect to fall in love with an anteater and let alone be filmed by BBC! Hannah’s dedication  to daily walks with him has helped Al the Anteater survive the big scary rainforest and we are thankful for it!

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Of course there would not have been a show without the starring characters! Thanks to Tiny,Newbie and Al for helping to educate us and all of you that were mesmerized by their story.

 

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Thank you BBC for choosing us over several other sanctuaries ! You have introduced the UK and hopefully the world to Kids Saving the Rainforest. You also got folks to fall in love with animals that they would never see or probably even heard of.

The show is no longer available to see on BBC One’s IPlayer but guess what? We still have orphaned animals to care for. To help out all of the animals that we care for on a daily basis, please go here:

http://www.razoo.com/story/Kids-Saving-The-Rainforest

Thank you for continuing to support us and who knows maybe we’ll get another show in the near future!!

Nature’s Miracle Orphans filmed by the BBC at KSTR

Back story of the filming of Nature’s Miracle Orphans
by Sam Trull, KSTR Wildlife Manager & Primatologist

After learning that KSTR was chosen as the Costa Rican Rescue Center to be featured in the BBC series, “Natures Miracle Orphans”, Hannah, one of our returning volunteers, and I literally ran screaming from the wildlife center and jumped fully-clothed into the pool, pausing only to remove our phones from our pockets. Somehow this gesture seemed like a perfect way to express our pure excitement about this wonderful opportunity; plus, let’s face it, we were really hot and sweaty because we live in the jungle. Read about BBC’s Nature’s Miracle Orphans Show airing mid-August

Ellen, Kermie and Pelota, 2 toed sloths: Pelota living completely outdoors with Kermie and Ellen and soon will be in the Pre-release enclosure. We're raising money for GPS collars, post release monitoring of all three.

With almost 8 weeks of filming, participating in this series was a huge time commitment. However, towards the end of it, I found myself wishing it wasn’t going to be over. It’s really difficult to put into words how much this experience meant to me and how life changing it has been in many ways.  The film crew was exceptional, was always respectful of the animals, and was a lot of fun to be around.  Each day was a new and interesting challenge trying to figure out the best way to tell the animal’s stories while making time to film real life events and emergencies as they happened.  At first, the process felt a little awkward having strangers around when it would normally be just a few of us taking care of the animals.  Eventually though, being followed around by the crew and cameras felt so natural that I started to forget how life was without them.  Every intimate moment, whether sad, happy, or scary, became a moment I wanted to share and felt privileged to be able to do so.  We welcomed the film crew as members of the KSTR family, and I truly felt invested in the final product of the show.  I always felt like this was a project we were creating together and that it was a fabulous way to let the world know what we are doing here in our corner of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

There is no “average day” at KSTR and taking care of rescued wildlife, especially orphans, is a 24 hour commitment.   My life revolves around what the animals need and most days are filled with feeding and exercising babies, gathering wild foods, observations, medical exams, instructing volunteers and of course rescues and releases. The opportunity to share my passion with the world is rare and precious, and having the chance to invite a diverse audience to ride the same emotional roller coaster that I live on a daily basis is something I will always cherish.  I just hope that this series provides the audience with a new perspective on wildlife rescue.  It is my goal that we portray these animals not just as cute and cuddly creatures that exist solely for us to have and to hold, but instead that they are amazing creatures with wonderful stories of their own and that they all deserve another chance to be wild.

Newbie, a 3 toed sloth was at KSTR's rescue center during filming

 

Check out a video of a Baby Anteater learning to climb a branch!
Here’s one of Al the anteater feasting on some ants, go Al!

Read about Kids Saving the Rainforest’s other projects here.

KSTR featured on BBC One! Nature’s Miracle Orphans Costa Rica

Ellie Harrison and Max Hug Williams to present Nature’s Miracle Orphans for BBC One

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Presenters Ellie Harrison and Max Hug Williams follow the early lives of orphaned baby animals as they make their brave journeys back in to the wild, in a 2 x 60 minute series from the BBC’s award-winning Natural History Unit.

Filmed in Costa Rica and Australia, the series follows the teams and individuals who devote their lives to caring for young orphaned wildlife, teaching them the basic survival skills they need before they can be released back into the wild.

Wildlife cameraman Max Hug Williams visits Kids Saving the Rainforest in Costa Rica to meet the carers of a three-toed sloth named Newbie, who is battling a life-threatening illness. Max is also introduced to two-toed, two-day-old sloth Tiny, who is in need of constant care and attention, and anteater Al, who must learn to tackle aggressive biting ants if he is going to survive in the wild.

At Cape Otway Conservation Centre in Australia Ellie meets a tiny koala called Danny, who was found abandoned at the roadside after his mother was killed and ran up the leg of the motorist who stopped to rescue him. She’ll also visit Wildhaven Wildlife Shelter on the outskirts of Melbourne, where she’ll meet baby wallaby Neil and the carers working around the clock to teach the skills he’ll need for a life in the wild.

Max says: “Through the dedication of the amazing carers I met in Costa Rica, the animals that have had the hardest start in life are given the second chance they deserve. These incredible people have given up everything to nurture and care for these orphans 24/7 and having seen what they go through, I have to say, it must be one of the toughest jobs in the world.”

Ellie says: “Few jobs require as much personal sacrifice for no pay as rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. The carers I have spent time with in Australia are woken through the night, convert their homes to rescue centres and have their personal schedule determined by the needs of the animals. But the reward is clear: a second chance for the orphans who would never have otherwise survived and the return of the animals they have nurtured back to the wild.”

Executive Producer Lucinda Axelsson says: “All the animals featured in the series are handpicked for their plucky personalities and their will to survive. It’s almost impossible not have your heart melted when you see Danny the baby koala being weighed in a little glass jug, or little Neil the orphaned wallaby trying hard to find a friend to cuddle up with. These babies are trying to survive against formidable odds and every survival truly feels like a miracle.”

Nature’s Miracle Orphans was commissioned for the BBC by Tom McDonald, Acting Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Executive Producer is Lucinda Axelsson and the series producer is Kate Broome, both for the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

 

What a year!!! What’s to come in 2014?

Wow, as I sit here and review our holiday newsletter from last year, it is absolutely amazing of the progress and changes KSTR has been through.

Since moving the rescue center to BBI in Mar 2013, we’ve had several animals come and go. Some have survived and been released back into the rainforest and some are still here growing and gaining strength for releases in the future. Unfortunately, some have also passed away but I assure you that their time here was pleasurable.

Our Vet tech Sam Trull has learned so much on her own, from our Gerente Vet Pia Martin and even from other animal caretakers in other countries. Sam’s knowledge has strengthened incredibly and we are so proud of her and that she’s on our KSTR team.

Pia Martin has and will always be an integral part of caring for the animals during the days she visits us to do check-ups. We continue to support and learn from her. Her monthly wildlife report keeps us and our supporters up to date on the statuses of the rescue center and sanctuary.

The multi species enclosure is completed!! Currently we have 8 titi monkeys and a porcupine living in it. We are still in the process of learning about which animals can live there in harmony. We’ve enriched the enclosure with more trees, plants and blue rope for the animals. We’ve added an additional door to make it easier to feed them.

Vernita Gundy has taken to wearing several hats for our organization. She is not only the Volunteer Coordinator but is also the Administrative Assistant and the BBI Hostess. She steps in at any given time whenever she is needed!

 

Dani Dion who’s been part of our team for quite some time took on a huge responsibility to help out a man with a terminal illness who had several dogs that he asked us to help find homes for in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area. To date we’ve adopted out 7 of the dogs and still with the possibility to receive more in the coming months.

Dani also continues to help out with the animal feeding and anything else that goes on at the sanctuary. Her official title is Canine Captain, Monkey management & Wildlife caterer. Wow …that’s a fancy job! J

 

Hannah Lindstrom, our repeat volunteer who just can’t stay away from us extended her stay here as an intern to assist in the research, releasing and tracking of Al the anteater. She has come to love Al and although she will be sad to see him go, she will be very happy to see him return to where he belongs………back in the rainforest.

 

Oh and to top it all off, we’ve had an incredible volunteer season! But wait there’s more…….incredible donations from funding to supplies brought to us from people visiting Costa Rica and the local community helping us transport animals.

We are creating awareness, growing and making so many improvements here that we can’t even keep up! And you know what? We love every minute of it and we hope everyone will continue on this journey with us.

I really wish I could type every single person/group that has played a part in our growth but it’s impossible. There are two words that I can say though, “THANK YOU!”  We hope to do it all again in 2014!! Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!!

 

KSTR Crew and KSTR animals

 

 

New Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary Tour!!

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Who’s been here to experience our tour? What ! You have never been? Check out what you’re missing! Tours will start up again on 12/22, so book your reservation!

New Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) Wildlife Tour

By Dani Dion, Doglandia Manager and KSTR Volunteer

KIDS SAVING THE RAINFOREST, (so named when it was started 15 years ago by two 9-year old girls), specializes in the RESCUE & RELEASE of wild animals. There are SO many special success stories to share and hear from the animal caretaker! However, there are many animals, which cannot be released, and KSTR offers safe sanctuary to them. They are given an environment in which they can thrive and enjoy life, along with great nourishment and care! As you can imagine, this takes a good deal of time and money to run a rescue center/sanctuary, which is primarily funded from donations, volunteer stays and tours.

KSTR is a registered non-profit organization in the US, and one of the few MINAE-approved, legal rescue centers in the country.

We invite you to take this special TOUR and come see the dedication and love it takes to help save these rainforest animals—over 130 animals every year.

Meet our precious Monkeys up close—the endangered Titi Squirrel, Whiteface Capuchin, Spiders, Marmosets, and Tamarins!

Other animals like a kinkajou, a porcupine and different parrots and more will also be seen on the tour!

-One of our Animal Caretakers will take you through the Wildlife Sanctuary so you can see and learn about wildlife animals.

-Our Vet Tech will introduce you to a 2 toed or 3-toed sloth or another recently rescued animal being rehabilitated and being prepped for release in our Rescue Center Clinic. You will have a close, clear view through our clinic window and appreciate the care given to these animals.

-You will also walk through the largest enclosed cage in Central America and see animals all around you!

-A light snack will be served after the 2-hour tour!

-Donation of:-$40 for adults and $25 for children under 18!

The tour is located about 7kms outside of Quepos Central on the property of the Blue Banyan Inn, part of a 70 acre property that has a mountain view and are surrounded by primary and secondary rainforests!

The tour is available Monday, Wednesday,Friday and Sunday
from 9 to 11 AM. Reservations are necessary. Special tours for groups can also be arranged.

You can drive there or have KSTR arrange transportation, (which is not included in the tour price). For directions go to bluebanyaninn.com

Please contact volunteer@kstr.org or call us at 2777-2572 or 1548 or 2592 to make arrangements. You will enjoy this special tour, the only one of its kind in the area and learn so much more about KIDS SAVING THE RAINFOREST and how you can help save the rainforest!