Kids Saving the Rainforest

Being a Veterinary Technician at Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Rescue Center

By Camille Luccisano

I’ve always wanted to help animals. So when I found out I was going to work as a veterinary technician in the wildlife clinic of an NGO in Costa Rica (of all places!), I was over the moon. I packed my (heavy) suitcase and left Paris behind, for a new exciting adventure. And what an adventure it was!

The work KSTR has been doing for over 20 years is very important for the conservation of Costa Rican species and forests, but also for the education of locals and international tourists (and volunteers!) on how to respect wildlife and our environment. But KSTR is also a place where people from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe, come and meet to spend a few weeks or months together, sharing a common interest: protecting wildlife.

After landing in the capital San Jose, taking a bus down South to Quepos then a taxi through palm oil plantations, I realized the centre was very secluded and I absolutely loved the idea. I was met by Jennifer, the former president of the association, who showed me around the sanctuary in torrential rain! The next day, I was able to discover the centre under a new light. The sun was shining, revealing the lush forests surrounding us and, in the background, tall mountains standing under the clouds. It felt totally incredible to be in this new environment, hearing new sounds. I couldn’t wait to start!

I remember the first time I saw a sloth, heard a spider monkey, smelt a raccoon, restrained a toucan, helped treat a capuchin and rescued a squirrel monkey. One evening, while sitting with a cup of tea in my hands, staring at the sunset over the canopy in front of me, I thought: “this is a truly amazing job that you do, how many people get to hold a sloth, rescue a baby kinkajou or release an anteater?” I felt truly lucky. Good days are when you care for the animals in rehab, but days can be even better if you get to release an animal back to the wild (after all your hard work!) or even rescue an injured one. The hardest days are when you lose an animal. All this time and energy invested in an animal that finally couldn’t make it. It’s a devastating feeling and I will never get used to it. I get attached even if they are wild animals! Over the 6 months I spent at KSTR, I discovered an amazingly rich and diverse wildlife, learned valuable skills and met new people that I now call friends. It certainly wasn’t easy every day, but I would go back in a heartbeat.