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How the Jaguar Rescue Center began

Encar y SandroItalian herpetologist, Sandro Alviani had a long career in Europe and the rest of the World researching reptiles and amphibians. Among other achievements, he led groundbreaking research into the breeding and conservation of amphibians and was instrumental in getting CITES recognition of some of the World’s most endangered frogs.

In 1997, after 10 years of visiting Costa Rica as part of his research, Sandro decided to come and live in his own piece of paradise on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and enjoy a relaxed life of riding his horse on the beach while continuing to pursue his interests in reptiles and amphibians.

Four years later, Encar Garcia, a Catalonian primatologist, came to Puerto Viejo on holiday. She met Sandro and they fell in love, only later discovering that they had both worked for several years at Barcelona Zoo at the same time, but had never met.

A lifelong ambition of Encar’s was to help animals by way of a rescue centre, so when shortly after moving to Costa Rica in 2005, some local people heard of the two animal experts who had recently moved to the area and started to bring them injured animals in the hope that they could help save them, it seemed like fate was catching up with her.

As time went by, more and more animals were brought to Sandro and Encar who soon found that caring for these animals was a 24 hour responsibility, often enduring sleepless nights when babies required regular night-time feedings, and therefore invited other animal lovers to come and help tend to those in need.

Encar y SandroEnclosures were built in their garden and room by room, their house was given up to the needs of an animal rescue centre.

As more and more animals arrived, Sandro and Encar were able to buy adjoining pieces of land to increase the space available for more enclosures and other facilities.

The Jaguar Rescue Centre now covers an area of approximately 22,000 square meters and is capable of housing up to around 160 animals on a temporary basis although modifications are constantly being made to accommodate the individual needs of new arrivals.

Despite the police, fire brigade, coast guard and government agencies all regularly bringing injured, orphaned and confiscated animals to the JRC for our help, we do not receive any government funding. We rely on the donations made through our web site and generated by guided tours of the JRC and La Ceiba Natural Reserve as well as occasional donations of medical supplies and goats’ milk.


Jaguar Rescue Center

Chronology

  •  1997 - Italian herpetologist, Sandro Alviani buys a house near Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
  •  2001 - Sandro and Encar meet while Encar is visiting the area on holiday
  •  2005 - Having pursued their romance between Europe and Central America, Encar moves permanently to Costa Rica
  •  2005 - The first injured animals are brought to the ‘animal expert foreigners’ who live near the town
  •  2006 - First monkey successfully released back into the wild
  •  2008 - The JRC is named and the Costa Rican government grant Sandro and Encar an official rescue centre license
  •  2013 - Employs a full time vet
  •  2014 - A lease contract was agreed and signed for the land where La Ceiba Natural Reserve is now established
  •  2016 - Sandro Alviani, sadly passes away suddenly, surrounded by the animals at the centre and those that loved him
  •  2017 - The JRC cafe opens
  •  2018 - The latest figures show that the JRC has received 598 animals in 2018

Our Mission

JRC Mission

Established in 2008, the JRC is a organization dedicated to helping animals in need. With uncompromising care and love, the JRC rehabilitates injured, sick and orphaned animals and releases those who are restored to good health back to their natural habitat. Through educational outreach, the JRC provides environmental awareness, promotes a harmonious relationship with native wildlife, and encourages the community to protect our delicate ecosystems.

Vision & Values

JRC Vision

The JRC aims to continue growing as a center for animal welfare, and a hub of scientific research and study, attracting scientists from all over the world to study the unique animals and eco systems on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.


What is the Jaguar Rescue Center

Baby sloth Costa Rica

The Jaguar Rescue Center is a temporary or permanent home for ill, injured and orphaned animals. With a focus on birds, reptiles, amphibians and small primates, the JRC provides veterinary services, round-the-clock care and comfort to animals that would otherwise be unable to survive in the rainforest or the sea of the Caribbean.


The Jaguar is the most hunted endangered animal in the Americas. It’s a symbol of nature that suffers from a great threat of extinction.

Why Jaguar?

Jaguar looking ahead

The Jaguar is the largest of the 6 types of wild cats living in Costa Rica and is a beautiful animal with an incredibly powerful image. It has been depicted as a major symbol of power and authority in the culture and beliefs of many indigenous Americans. Jaguar populations in the Americas have dropped from 400,000 to 14,000 over the past century with most now living in the Amazon basin. It is listed as Near Threatened with a decreasing population.

One of the first calls for help that Sandro and Encar received was from a local in Playa Chiquita who had found a large wild cat in distress and who mistakenly identified it as a Jaguar. It was actually a large female Ocelot who was unfortunately showing signs of having been poisoned. Sadly she died the following morning.

Word soon spread around town of the ‘Jaguar’ that had been found and that Sandro and Encar tried to help, and thereafter referred to them as the ‘Jaguar people’ at Chiquita.

When it was time to choose a name for the centre in order to become licensed by the government, it seemed appropriate to name it the Jaguar Rescue Center - and has been the source of some confusion ever since for those few arriving expecting to see a live Jaguar.

Birds Costa Rica

What's our Goal?

The primary goal of the JRC is to rehabilitate animals and reintroduce them back into their native habitats. Monkeys, birds, sloths, snakes and more are brought to the JRC, and treated by professional veterinarians, caregivers and a hard-working team of staff and volunteers. Food is lovingly prepared, medication is administered, and all animals get personal contact with their caregivers. When they are healed and healthy, most animals are reintroduced to their native habitats to live out their lives in the land that is their home.

For some of the friends brought to the JRC, reintroduction isn’t possible due to the nature of their illness or injuries, and these animals find a permanent, loving home at the JRC, cared for by a team of staff and volunteers, living in habitats that mimic their lives outside the JRC.

In addition to the animal-care services, the JRC provides educational services to the residents and visitors of Costa Rica, as well as internship and research opportunities for biologists, veterinarians and researchers from around the world.

Monkeys in Costa Rica