Zoo Ave in La Garita: La Fundación Restauración de la Naturaleza

Yesterday we finally managed to visit a local attraction, which everyone seems to like quite a bit. It’s called Zoo Ave [bird zoo] and it isn’t really a zoo and it’s not all about birds either – despite its name. It’s a countrywide non-profit organization dedicated to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals, mostly forest creatures so that they might be re-introduced into their natural habitats, if at all possible. About 45% of the rescued animals belong to endangered species. They often come to Zoo Ave after border police confiscate illegal shipments of protected animals, especially parrots. But individuals also bring injured or found wildlife to Zoo Ave. The Fundación Restauración de la Naturaleza or Zoo Ave receives three animals per day on average. From 2008 to 2011 they rescued well over 3000 animals in their three locations across Costa Rica.
Fun educational material explains the zoo’s mission.
Many school children make class trips to the zoo
The deadly cycle of the illegal parrot trade
Blue-and-yellow Macaw, grooming
Ara ararauna, Linnaeus 1758, Psittacidae
Scarlet Macaw
Ara macao, Linnaeus 1758, Psittacidae
Spectacled Owl
Pulsatrix perspicillata, Latham 1790, Strigidae
Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot
Amazona autumnalis, Linnaeus 1758, Psittacidae
most likely A. a. autumnalis because of the bright yellow under-eye patch
At this point I should mention that, with the exception of the peafowl, the animals live in runs or cages, depending on how much protection both they and the visitors need. The runs are designed as ‘sections’ of jungle forests, just as the individual beasties might encounter naturally. In most instances gawking humans are kept at quite a distance so that we actually only saw a certain percentage of the animals currently treated by the foundation. Especially snakes & iguanas were pretty much invisible, and many birds perched so high up that we couldn’t make out much detail. Certainly a healthy set-up for the animals. And for us, it transformed this visit to Zoo Ave into a magical hike through a tropical rainforest. Especially, since one is constantly surrounded by the animal’s vocalizations, the swooshing of wind gusts through the trees and the pattern of rain on the canopy. But this scenario is not so conducive for picture taking. Tough luck! All my snaps were taken with a zoom lens without the steadying benefit of a tripod, which I was too lazy to bring along. Instead, I knelt on muddy, rain-moist ground, contorting ridiculously to manually focus on moving objects. Auto-focus wouldn’t work owing to the fencing everywhere and intruding foliage.
speaking of swooshing … here’s a spike-heeled supermodel, sashaying down the runway 🙂
A family (?) of Black River Turtles, called jicote in CR, hanging out on a log
Rhinoclemmys funerea, Cope 1875, Geoemydidae
There are at least 10 synonyms for R. funerea, I guess consensus on what’s what is still out.
Chorus Line with a Sleeping Duck
Rhinoclemmys funerea, Cope 1875, Geoemydidae
Dendrocygna autumnalis, Linnaeus 1758, Anatidae
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Dendrocygna autumnalis, Linnaeus 1758, Anatidae


Grey Crowned Crane, native to Africa
Balearica regulorum, Bennett 1834, Gruidae
Mute Swan, introduced by humans,
since there are no swan species represented in Central America
Cygnus olor, Gmelin 1789, Anatidae
This poor little toucan lost part of its beak & can’t feed without human assistance
Keel-billed Toucan – these are the toucans we see around our house
Ramphastos sulfuratus, Lesson 1830, Ramphastidae


American Crocodile
Crocs have an impressive presence in CR rivers & brackish wetlands & salt water. They can be twice as long as a caiman. One tells them apart by their snouts and lower canine teeth.
Croc: pointy snout, lower canine showing (see image)
Caiman: broadly rounded snout, lower canine hidden in upper jaw socket
Crocodylus acutus, Cuvier 1807, Crocodyidae
A pair of White Hawks, stunning in black & white.
The only CR raptor with a totally white back.
Pseudoastur albicollis costaricensis, Latham 1790, Accipitridae
[synonym: Leucopternis albicollis]
Possibly the worst picture ever of a Green Iguana
It was sitting on top of an aviary AND moving away from me, that sneaky little bastard
(actually not so little, they can grow to over 2m/80+”)
I didn’t even notice it until Barry pointed it out to me. the only iguana we sort-of-saw.
Iguana iguana, Linnaeus 1758, Iguanidae
Dense jungle landscape
These fruit stands are about a foot tall and have black blooms poking out.
I’ve since learned that this is Zingiber zerumbet or Shampoo ginger. Thanks, Christine, for the I.D! Women in Hawaii use the gel of the ripe fruit to condition their hair to shiny perfection.


Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth, You can see the 2 claws of the name-giving front limb & the 3 digits of the hind foot
Choloepus hoffmanni hoffmanni, Peters 1858, Megalonychidae
Giant bamboo with Barry graciously acting as size comparison chart again.
Frantically pacing Mountain Lion – hope she’s going to be alright.
This is the second largest cat in CR. Only the Jaguar, Panthera onca, is larger.
Puma concolor costaricensis, Merriam 1901, Felidae
My beloved Ocelot!
I’ve always been intrigued by this forest cat and this was the first time I actually saw one. It lifted it’s head when a group of children walked by so I could see its face. They’re more night active, so you rarely ever catch one in action. Because their front paws are noticeably bigger than the rear paws, they’re called ‘manigordo’ in CR. That means fat hand.
Not exactly elegant, eh?
Leopardus pardalis aequatorialis, Linnaeus 1758, Felidae
Can’t get too excited about this Collared Peccary. Texas is teeming with wild or feral piggies. 
Pecari tajacu, Linnaeus 1758, Tayassuidae
The zoo is populated with thousands of these gigantic Golden Silk Orb-weavers.
I guess their food supply of insects is never-ending.
Nephila clavipes, Linnaeus 1767, Nephilidae
Common Marmoset, one of several primate species at Zoo Ave
Callithrix jacchus, Linnaeus 1758, Callitrichidae

These turkey-sized fowl, Great Tinamou or Ground Hen, scurried busily to and fro.
Tinamus major fuscipennis, Salvadori 1895, Tinamidae
[Synonym: Tetrao major, Gmelin 1789]

Fiery-billed Aracari or Araçari (the zoo called it a toucanet, not sure, what the difference is. Both groups are in the toucan family of tropical near-passerine birds)
This guy was ever so busy. Hopping, flying, crouching – a riot to watch. He was also visited by a ‘free’ buddy and I hope, he’ll be ready for release soon!
Pteroglossus franzii, Cabanis 1861, Ramphastidae
Keel-billed Toucan
Ramphastos sulfuratus, Lesson 1830, Ramphastidae
White-throated Magpie-Jay. We saw flocks & flocks of these pretty jays in Nicaragua.
Calocitta formosa, Swainson 1827, Corvidae
Two margays, in CR they’re called ‘caucel’
and their picture adorns my preferred local coffee brand “El Caucel” *
Leopardus wiedii, Schinz 1821, Felidae
* my coffee from the Beneficio de  San Isidro de Atenas
Margay, note the distinctive, crisp white dot on each ear
Leopardus wiedii, Schinz 1821, Felidae

Margays are smaller than ocelots but have longer legs & tails. They live entirely arboreal, most spending their whole lives exclusively hunting in trees. They can turn their ankles 180º and, like cloud leopards, descend trees head first. They’re extremely agile, being able to grasp branches with either front or hind leg, anchor themselves with just one paw and jump horizontally for 4m. Wiki says, there has been one report of a margay cat mimicking the sound of a tamarin monkey to lure his prey to him. Awesome!!

And this awesome poster reminds guys to buy Viagra, rather than steal protected turtle eggs!


White-headed (white-faced or white-throated) Capuchin monkey
Cebus capucinus, Linnaeus 1758, Cebidae, Primates
possibly subspecies C. c. imitator, Thomas 1903


This may be another (lored) Amazon parrot. Not sure.


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, the largest of CR’s toucans.
Unfortunately, they don’t show themselves in our area.
Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii, Gould 1833, Ramphastidae


Pretty jungle flowers


A male Great Curassow, a large member of the chicken family (40″/1m, 5Kg).
In CR they’re called ‘pavón norteño’ northern peacock or ‘hocofaisán’ hoco (? No idea what that means) pheasant.
Crax rubra, Linnaeus 1758, Cracidae


Some more jungle flowers


In a separate pen, we saw this Great Curassow pair. The female is a rufous morph, but they can show all variations from rust brown to blackish, while the males are always black. They were both scratching & picking so much, with their heads deep into the plumage …
hard to catch their faces!
Crax rubra, Linnaeus 1758, Cracidae


A Silver Pheasant
Another bird indigenous to Asia, maybe a rescued escapee from a private estate?
Lophura nycthemera, Linnaeus 1758, Phasianidae


Yet another Asian chicken, the Indian Peafowl
Whoever thinks that peahens are drab, never really looked at one!
Pavo cristatus, Linnaeus 1758, Phasianidae


This elegantly resting peacock was actually posing for a couple of high school girls, who were sitting cross-legged in the grass, painting his portrait for a class assignment.       Peafowl – Indian Peacock
Pavo cristatus, Linnaeus 1758, Phasianidae, Galliformes













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