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Conservation for Jaguars in Captivity
Zoo Costa Rica


Project for “Jaguars”

In Captivity



1. Name:

Juan José Rojas Alfaro (Foundation RESCATELA)



Community La Marina, The Palm district (9), San Carlos, Province Alajuela,

Costa Rica.



(506) 474 2100



(506) 474 2202




La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center (Foundation RESCATLEA).



Details on the project



2. Project Name:

Conservation project for “Jaguars” (Panther onca) in captivity


3. Short description of the Project:

            The project is to improve the conditions of captivity for the 4 jaguars (one male and three females).  To achieve this, 3 corrals will be constructed, each measuring 1200 m2 and containing both a “natural area” and a building with 4 enclosures.  This will add to our ability to house more animals in conditions of less risk. 


4. Location gives the project:

Country:                                   Costa Rica

Province:                                 Alajuela

Region:                                    San Carlos

Community:                             La Marina


5. Commencement of the project:        Month:            June   Year:   2006


6.-Reasons to begin the project:

The necessity to offer space and support to “jaguars” that have been, hunted, wounded, orphaned and confiscated. Our Rescue Center from its creation has received six “jaguars” (3 females and 3 males, 2 of then from young cubs). But regrettably many “jaguars” have not had the same luck, since they have succumbed to the hands of hunters and others have been captive by callow people, with neither the resources nor the facilities for handling “jaguars” in captivity.

One of our objectives is to return wild animals to their natural habitats. This applies to the animals that technically could achieve it. Working with this objective, the successful reintroduction of a “jaguar” was achieved in 2003. The remaining felines of this species under our care are under acceptable conditions, according to the national and international standard conditions established for these wild animals in captivity. But we believe that it is necessary to improve these conditions substantially and not to be limited by the official standards. With the development of the project, we want to be a real option to offer space, handling and specialized maintenance to the jaguars under our responsibility.


7. Related issues to the project:

            a. - To establish a novel model to maintain jaguars in captivity.


b. - To convince to our society through the project that among better natural conditions given to “jaguars” in captivity, it will improve the quality of life and their physical health and behavior,  to increase our understanding of the animal in more natural environment.


c. - To stand out in the scientific field, for the potential that exists in the “jaguars” in captivity, for the development of projects for investigation and conservation at low cost.


d. - To maintain a program of Environmental Education centered on the “jaguars.” To show that programs of conservation will be successful, but it has this component, obligatorily.


8. The conservation of “jaguars” is a project that has great importance since through them, it is sought to obtain vital information to develop projects for conservation of its natural hábitats.

We are protecting “jaguars” that possess diverse information (behavior, genetics, etc.), important to develop projects for breeding and reintroduction. Also to be able, if it was necessary, to repopulate some protected areas of our country. When promoting their importance in the nature, through the knowledge of their ecology, we are collaborating in stopping their disappearance.


9. Long term hopes of achievement:

a. - The best conditions to maintain “jaguars” in captivity in the region. We want to be an example of how “jaguars” should be kept in captivity, to minimize for them, negative impacts on their behavior and physical state.

b. - To be a center of international training in the field of handling, reintroduction and breeding of “jaguars.”

c. - To be able to reintroduce at least a “jaguar” per annum in a protected area, or to avoid the death or extraction of at least one per annum.

d. - To establish a protocol to diagnose quickly, the profile of the “jaguars” admitted to the rescue center to determine its future.

e. - To diminish the capture, transfer and hunting of “jaguars”, as well as its sources of food and destruction of their hábitats, through our program of Environmental Education.

f. - To suggest as an obligatory requirement that any dedicated organization to the conservation of jaguars, has developed a program of Environmental Education, directed to different social groups.


10. At the moment we do not have any external collaboration or funding.


11. The daily running and maintenance of the Rescue Center for the most part has been financed by the director and founder member of the RESCATELA (foundation). Also a small income exists in that of the visitors to the center and other points of contribution, the work of the volunteers and small donations of food, specially given by some of the cattlemen in the area. This has financed the design of the “corrals” for the Conservation project for Jaguars in captivity, but it has not allowed that the project grow and be modernized, for that we are promoting this new initiative.


12. The total cost to develop the “corrals” is US $-------.



13. Description of the project.

            For many years the La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center (Foundation RESCATELA), has been working on projects for the conservation of our flora and wildlife. Among the projects that are currently being managed we have the project “Conservation for “Jaguars” in captivity”.

An immediate objective is to improve the current conditions for the felines in our care. To do this, we hope to build three “corrals” or natural spaces of 1200 m2 each. Each “corral” will have housings with four “enclosures” measuring 20 m2 approximately, a space in which to work with the animals, an “island” or green area and two observatories for the visitors.


In detail the “corrals” will have the following characteristic:

a. - Three corrals will be built, each one measuring 1200 m2, where there will be an “island” with low vegetation, bushes and trees, big tree trunks and loose gravel.

b. - The island area will be in its entirety surrounded by a channel of flowing water where their will be fish, turtles and lizards and aquatic plants.

c. - Each “corral” will have a housing, which will be connected to the “island” through a bridge. In the housing there will be four enclosures, where the “jaguars” will sleep and will be fed.

d. - The housing will have a roof with two water inlets, with a height of 4 meters and with capacity to accommodate four “jaguars”. Each of the four enclosures will measure 20 m2, the internal walls to the neighboring enclosure will be made of concrete, with the purpose of avoiding contact and aggression between the animals. Each of the enclosures will have sliding doors that will be operated from the mezzanine (second floor). The front of the enclosure and the mezzanine area will be built with bar I number 2 intertwined and the side walls will be of concrete.


The enclosures will be built with a central corridor inside the housing, which will connect the animals to “the island” or green area. The corridor will have access to the four enclosures, with exit to a territory of 1200 m2; they will also have an outlet for blast air.


In total the three corrals will be 3600 m2 of natural territory. The visitors will have a wide viewing area and assurance to see the “jaguars” under natural conditions.

The “corrals” will harbor two “jaguars” simultaneously. Initially, they will take turns having access to the “island” until they get used to being together. Each animal will have daily access to approximately 1200 m2.


At the moment we have one male and three females, all products of seizures made by The Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, who has believed in and supported our work with the felines in captivity. But regrettably we have had to stop for the time being, accepting any more jaguars to our Rescue Center, since under the current conditions, we are unable to harbor more jaguars. We are focusing on raising the funds to improve the environments for our current wild felines.

We hope that with the construction and the development of the new corrals, other organizations like MINAE, will look at the project as an example on how to improve the conditions for felines in captivity.


The nutritious diet will be of meat and on some occasions live animals, so that the felines do not lose their natural instincts for hunting.


In the new “corrals” it will be possible to develop project of investigation, with the purpose of obtaining valuable information, to apply to projects for breeding, reintroduction and identification of the genetic material that these animals possess and its potential to be used in different scientific projects and investigations. This could be of great help to organizations related to the conservation of these wild carnivores and to discourage the capture and hunting of “jaguars”.


We hope to be one of the specialized Centers of conservation, information and bio-alphabetization on “jaguars” in this region. We would like to be able to offer complete information on their habitats, strategies for conservation. Though our environment education program visitors and citizens can help to conserve and to protect these animals and their natural environment of incalculable diversity and invaluable ecosystem services.



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     Any questions call: Juan Jose Jr in Costa Rica free Call FREE

  011 (506) 8434 0762

 OFFICE Phone : 011 (506) 2 - 474-2202   Fax:  011(506) 2 - 474-2202

                                    E-mail : juanj_56@hotmail.com

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Paul Sudenfield 781-710-0173         Salem, MA USA

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Afiliado a Canatur

Afiliado a Canatur
Member: National Chamber of Tourism

The La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center foundation (RESCATELA), is a non profit organization, whose main aim is to protect, rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, along with environmental education.

In the United States we are 501C exempt private foundation

We are registered with the government of the Republic of Costa Rica, under charity number 3-006-391728


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Visitors since January 2006