Proyecto Asis is a wildlife rescue centre located about 30 minutes drive from La Fortuna. The centre was set up both to rescue animals and educate visitors. They have several types of visits and packages available from a short 1.5 hour tour, a 3.5 hour tour + feeding to volunteering opportunities from a few days to a month or more. Volunteers stay with local host families.
We opted for the 3.5 hour tour + feeding session which was $54 each but all profits are put towards the welfare of the animals.
We spent the morning with Carlos, a highly committed, charismatic and knowledgable guide. As he took us round, Carlos explained that while it is illegal to keep wild animals in a domestic environment the maximum fine for keeping a jaguar or puma is only $100! This fine decreases for smaller animals, e.g. $80 for a monkey and $10 for a macaw.
Carlos had a brilliant rapport with both the animals and the visitors as he made everyone laugh with his entertaining explanations!
Many Costa Ricans like to keep parrots and macaws at home in cages but as they live for about 100 years and spend much of this time squawking loudly they are often either let loose or taken to the rescue centre.
Above is Gertie a 20 year old spider monkey who likes to spend her days sleeping and lounging around her cage. Carlos explained that the animals are carefully matched with other animals according to their temperament and personalities and moved if they don’t get on with each other.
Perla the wild pig was rescued from a domestic home environment. She has a friendly nature and will happily allow visitors to stroke her coarse fur. As a result she can never be released into the wild so will live at the centre for the rest of her days.
Rescue animals are kept in the centre for the shortest time possible before being released back into the wild. They often have injured sloths where they have become tangled up in overhead cables although there were no sloths when we visited.
As mentioned it is sometimes not possible to release animals. This depends on the individual circumstances of the animal and perhaps the nature of the injury. If an animal such as a macaw or monkey or indeed Perla have lived in a domestic house with a family they will never be able to look after themselves in the wild.
Just after completing the tour a turtle was brought into the centre. The member of staff above is checking him out.
Following the tour it was feeding time! Above is Annabelle, Chris and Lee busy chopping bananas, sweet corn and vegetables for the monkeys, birds, wild pigs and other animals.
Once the food was ready, Carlos took everyone outside and explained the different techniques necessary to feed the monkeys and birds whilst retaining your fingers!
Overall we had a fun and enjoyable morning where we learned a great deal about Costa Rican animals and the issues faced. All cages were clean and the animals looked healthy and happy. This is an authentic and worthwhile place to visit if you are in La Fortuna.