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.

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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

 

 

KSTR is launching a new project………… GPS Collar Program

 

We have a new and exciting project that we are working on and Kids Saving the Rainforest needs your support. One of our main missions at KSTR is to rehabilitate and release animals back to the wild.  Sometimes these are adult animals who have been electrocuted, hit by a car, attacked by dogs etc.  Sometimes these are orphaned baby animals that are hand raised by us and then trained to be able to live in the wild.  One of the most important aspects of a release is monitoring the animals AFTER the release has occurred in order to really know if they are going to be ok out in the wild.  As you can imagine, it is particularly important to monitor hand-raised animals as they have not been trained by their real mothers!

We would like to start a new post-release monitoring program at KSTR using GPS collars.  GPS collars are collars that use GPS technology in order to track where an animal is going throughout the day.  These collars are so specific that it can tell us where the animal is located down to the exact tree!  They also have the ability to tell us if the animal is active or resting.  This information would allow us to know where the animal is located, how far they are traveling throughout the day, how active they are, where they are going and for how long etc.  All information that would be invaluable in assessing their progress in learning how to live in the wild!  Even better is that the GPS collars can be re-used for future animals and they can be programmed to drop off after a certain amount of time (say 6 months) so that the animal doesn’t have to be re-caught in order to get the collar back.  Basically, these collars are amazing and they would really help us save animals and get them back into the wild in a responsible and scientific manner.  Unfortunately because the collars are so amazing they are also relatively expensive and to get started with the GPS collar program we need $6,000.  Donations are needed to continue using the GPS collar for future releases.

 

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The first animal that we are trying to put a GPS collar on is Al the anteater. He is so curious, so sweet, and really belongs to be free!  He came to the KSTR rescue center when he was about a month old after his mom was hit by a car and killed.  You can learn much more about Al and our other animals that need GPS collars by going to: www.kidssavingtherainforest.org

We plan to take this campaign to the internet and really get a fundraiser going to raise the money to start this ground breaking program.  If you think you would like to help get this started you would be supporting something that has never been done before in Costa Rica at a wildlife rescue center!  We will be making history!

Thank you for supporting KSTR!!!

 

The adopted animals of KSTR

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Kermit the sloth

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Al the Anteater

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Buster Posey the Goat

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Bonnie and Clyde the titi monkeys

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Rosie aka Pelota the Sloth

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Squawker the red lored parrot

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Fredericka the porcupine

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Harley the titi monkey

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Fly Girl aka Charlotte

 

Unfortunately we get animals all of the time that need rehabilitation before they can be released back into the wild.

Please go to: http://kidssavingtherainforest.org/donationsadoptions/ and find out how you can help too by adopting.