Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Thank you to Kids Saving the Rainforest for providing information for this post.
What is Kids Saving the Rainforest? And what is their mission?
Kids Saving the Rainforest is a nonprofit organization located in Costa Rica that strives to protect and rehabilitate a diverse range of wildlife. In addition, they work to educate and promote conservation and reforestation to the public through volunteer programs and educational tours.
The story behind Kids Saving the Rainforest
Kids Saving the Rainforest or KSTR was founded in 1999 by two 9 year olds who wanted to make an impact by educating people on the importance of the rainforest for ecological reasons. It started as a roadside stand where the girls would sell painted rocks. As they were getting money, the forests around them were being cut down and so they decided to put that money toward saving an acre of forest, which was around $40. Unfortunately, they discovered that the $40 would not actually go toward saving an acre of rainforest. Therefore, they sparked an idea to create a place where any money donated would go directly to the issue. Through their passion to make an impact, they grew the organization and soon officially founded Kids Saving the Rainforest, which still has the same intentions as it did back when it started.
What are some of their projects?
A unique aspect of KSTR is the wide range of projects they have ongoing. Though their first priority is rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, they also have many other projects, such as a Wildlife Sanctuary, Monkey Bridges, Volunteer Programs, Wildlife Sanctuary Tours, and reforestation.
Wildlife Rescue Center
The wildlife rescue center is the heart of KSTR. The on site veterinary clinic has helped to save between 100 and 200 animals per yearthat would otherwise not have made it. The full time, highly trained staff helps to save injured, sick or abandoned animals and get them ready to be released back in the wild. The average release rate for the animals is at 55%, which is much greater than the norm of 33%. Some animals come in with very severe injuries, especially from electrocution and car strikes, so not all of them survive. Those that can't be released back into the wild due to their disabilities live at the wildlife sanctuary.
The sanctuary is home to many animals who are unable to returned back to the wild, due to disabilities or being habituated to humans by the illegal pet trade. There are a variety of animals that call the wildlife sanctuary home, including monkeys, sloths, and birds. The center is also used as an educational destination for both kids and adults to learn about the animals and the importance of protecting their habitats from forest destruction.
A wildlife bridge is exactly what it sounds like. It is a bridge that helps monkeys, sloths, and many other kinds of wildlife safely navigate the treetops and avoid high voltage wires and cars, both of which are the leading cause for many animals. This program was initially started for the endangered grey-capped squirrel monkeys, which are endemic to the area (mostly within Manual Antonio, Costa Rica). The project has drastically helped increase the population of squirrel monkeys, from 1200 to 3700, which helped them step up to "Vulnerable" status from "Endangered" status with the IUCN Red List. This project is especially important to keep helping various wildlife, and especially squirrel monkeys from becoming further endangered.
KSTR provides opportunities for everyone to be part of their mission. Through their volunteer programs, people can have a first hand experience aiding a KSTR staff member in daily tasks. Though short-term volunteers don't get to work directly with the animals, they directly help aid in animal care in activities like preparing food and creating enrichment activities for the animals. Volunteers can start as young as 8, along with a guardian, which means this can be an experience for the entire family. Longer term volunteer programs and our specialized internships, allow more chance to be involved in rehabilitations or clinical treatments, and students participating in higher veterinary or other wildlife education often can obtain credit towards their courses.
Wildlife Sanctuary Tours
For people who want to learn more about KSTR's work or have a passion for animals, the tours are interesting, educational experiences. The tours help KSTR achieve one of its goals, which is to help educate the public about many global issues that directly impact wildlife, such as forest destruction. Visitors also get additional information about the organization and the projects they undertake to provide for so many animals. On the tour, visitors get to see Parrots, Coatis, Scarlet Macaws, Two-Toed Sloths, Nocturnal Kinkajous (if they are awake), and 5 types of monkeys.
Trees are critical to the lives of humans and animals alike. Trees are especially important for animals who spend most or all of their time in trees, like sloths and monkeys. This is why KSTR is working toward planting more trees in the rainforest. They want to plant a mix of both native and fruit trees to provide a range of trees for the animals.
How COVID-19 has impacted KSTR
Like many organizations, both nonprofit and for profit, the pandemic has drastically impacted KSTR. Animal needs don't just suddenly stop. However, due to COVID-19, KSTR has been unable to offer many of their programs, like tours or volunteering, both of which provide money, exposure, and on site help. Without the help and income from these programs, KSTR is functioning with just a handful of volunteers to care for over 50 animals. These volunteers have been working around the clock to provide for the animals.
How you can get involved
There are many ways you can get involved. Here is a list of ways you can help, for a variety of budgets.
You can help KSTR become a better known organization by telling your friends and/or posting about it on social media. Spreading the word is an easy and free way for people to find KSTR and the work they do.
Normally, you would be able to take a tour of their Wildlife Sanctuary and see the animals up close, but due to COVID-19, many travelers are still not able to enter Costa Rica. They have recently opened tours to residents of the country, with strict health and safety protocols in place, but not many people are able to get out yet, as local incomes are also suffering. However, on the website they have a virtual tour of the sanctuary. These virtual tours are currently their only source of income besides donations, so going on these virtual tours is a good way to both see the facility but also donate to the cause.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, they have not received volunteers since March, and it may be some time before people can start to make realistic travel arrangements again. they are currently unable to take in volunteers; hopefully in the future, they will again. The volunteer program is available for people 8 and older and starts at $100 for the experience. Being a volunteer will allow you to stay on site and directly help care for the animals. You will not be able to touch the animals, since they are wild animals, however, you will be helping with preparing the food and making enrichment activities for the animals, and for longer tern volunteers and interns, you may also be involved in behavioral studies, clinical assistance, or other rehabilitation activities.
KSTR has so many projects that it is easy to find one that interests you or fits your price range. To list a few, you could sponsor a sloth, plant trees, help build a monkey bridge, buy items from their amazon.com wishlist, or help an ongoing project. The money you donate to any one of these projects or to the organization as a whole will directly help their mission and the work they do.
Kids Saving the Rainforest
The story behind KSTR w/video about founding the organization & links to the projects at the bottom of the page
Donate w/ Paypal
Blog post about quarantining with the animals
KSTR Store (featuring a new animal coloring book)