On the way back to San José, Dario and we toured a wildlife rescue facility (Rescate Animal in Spanish). Zoos are illegal in Costa Rica, so any animals kept in captivity must be unable to survive in the wild. We chose to believe that the resident birds and beasts in the Rescate could not be rehabilitated well enough to let them fend for themselves. I must say that, to my inexpert eye, the creatures all looked fit, with glossy fur or feathers. We were pleased when Dario chose to accompany us. He was familiar with the place, having taken his family there several times. Our amiable driver proved adept at spotting the inhabitants of the thickly forested enclosures.
The Collared Aracari is a small species of toucan.
Our guide was a very good sport, happy to pose with an old friend.
Even in repose, this jaguar looked healthy as well as lethal.
HL and I began to wilt in the afternoon heat at the Rescate.
With their flexible, sock-shaped snouts and rounded bodies, tapirs look like survivors of the age of early mammals. They have always appealed to me. Costa Rica is home to the Baird's Tapir, the largest of the world's four tapir species. Tapirs are hard to observe in their natural habitat, as their coats tend to blend into the shaded, dense foliage. These elusive herbivores depend on camouflage as a defense against predators. Their size also helps protect them from all but pumas, jaguars, crocodiles and, of course, humans. Tapirs are the largest mammals in Central and South America, a fact which surprised me. Adult tapirs can weigh more than 350 kilograms (about 770 pounds).
The tapir in the refuge was not hiding, nor was it moving much. I had been awake long enough to think that the recumbent tapir had the right idea. Instead of napping, however, I kept taking pictures for as long as my phone’s battery lasted.