Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary

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Cabuya, Costa Rica

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Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary Cabuya Reviews

archdlux archdlux
1 reviews
Rainsong Animal Rescue Shelter was amazing!!! Apr 12, 2011

I am still blown away by my experience at Rainsong. I had the time of my life. This was my first time to Costa Rica and I can tell you it will not be my last.

The town of Cabuya was a great place to be for the 2 months I was there. The people of this small town of 300 were amazing. The wildlife around the sanctuary and the guest house I stayed was unbeleivable. I had monkeys waking me up and howling me to bed. I got to eat fresh fruit straight off the trees in our back yard and the ocean was about 100ft from my room.

Rainsong was great. I had the responsibility of feeding and caring for some real cool animals. I still miss the monkeys dearly. Good bird who is a Keel Billed Toucan was definatly a highlight every day and was able to get so close to all these animals that you would never ever be this close in the nature.

People must remember that we were taking care of fragile sick exotic animals. This is not the easiest thing in the world. While I was there we did have a few animals pass on us, but once again you must remember, when you work with sick anything, you will lose 1 here and there. I knew this going in and treated it as a part of the experience that made me stronger. We had a few volunteers who were not ready for living in primative conditions and seeing animals pass. You must be strong and go in knowing that this is a possibility and can happen at any time.

Mary is an amazing lady. She knows a lot about animals and all the plants and trees of Costa Rica. I did read some good and bad reviews before I even comitted to this project. I went in knowing that she is the boss, and did what she said. We had volunteers who would just sit around and complain about every thing and in turn would infect the new volunteers with negative thoughts and would leave a sour taste in their mouths before they even step onto the property. She as well as many did not apreciate volunteers coming in thinking they will save the world and help out every little thing they see. Or expect not to work and sit and watch others do the daily tasks.

You must remember that Cabuya and its ways are really really far off from what you all know back home. So please if you come here, be ready for an amazing jungle adventure and also be ready to work and interact with the animals and people in a fair and safe manor!!!

I will for sure be going back to lend a hand next year and hope that if you do too, have fun and learn learn learn!!!!

I recamend this project for anyone who wants to get away from the everyday and learn something new!
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ja1736 ja1736
2 reviews
Funky Monkeys in the jungle Nov 28, 2010
I spent 3 weeks here in 2008 and after saving up my holiday days from work I have been able to return to spend a month this year.

Whilst the setting is still the same, a beautiful and secluded spot in the rainforest in the lazy town of Cabuya, the sanctuary has developed and succeeded in taking on bigger projects, like sea turtle patrols on the local beaches (In our latest patrols we saved one nest of 111 eggs which are currently in our hatchery), and campaigning for the government to take further precautions to prevent wildlife electrocutions due to uninsulated electrical lines.

In addition to the work with animals, rainsong works closely with the local schools in CONSERVATION EDUCATION, and a part of each donation is used to sponsor disadvantaged children through high school and provide elementary school uniforms to those children unable to afford them.

The sanctuary is currently full of monkeys, with an increasing number of orphaned baby monkeys being brought in because their mothers have been electrocuted. It's sad to see this trend, although when these monkeys are healthy, helping to raise them is incredibly rewarding.

There are several accommodation options, but if you are staying for more than a month I would highly recommend you stay at the sanctuary lodgehouse, [FREE LODGING !] which is a 2 story wooden hut overlooking the ocean. It is very basic and we have spotted the occasional tarantula and scorpion in the house, but as long as you take basic precautions, not much beats waking up to a view of the sunrise over the ocean, and hummingbirds & monkeys playing in the trees.

The local vet is in close contact with mary, providing help diagnosing and treating any injured animals, while Mary always seeks dietary advice from scientists, wildlife vets and other sanctuaries specializing in wildlife species.

Mary is very strict in following the animal care protocols dictated to Rainsong by wildlife vets, biologists, and the Costa Rican government.

Mary arranges good discounts for many exciting tours and activities for the Rainsong volunteers, and she is very flexible about allowing extra days off for FUN TIME.

Some of the animals here won't ever be able to be released due to permanent handicaps, like the very naughty but loveable Tarzan, the white faced capuchin who lost an arm after being attack by howler monkeys.

However, we make sure these animals have the best quality of life possible.

Tarzan, for example, enjoys many adventures out in the trees. The sanctuary always receives positive feedback from its regular monthly inspections from vets, biologists, and the government.

I would recommend anyone coming here who wants to spend time at one with nature. Spending time with these animals is a truly unique experience. Be warned, this is not for the faint hearted. It is a very lucky volunteer who leaves without at some point getting the wonderful gift of excrement from those generous monkeys.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
canadian-gypsy canadian…
1 reviews
True Colours OF Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary Nov 17, 2010
I have now been at Rainsong for over a month and I am totally disillusioned. Before arriving I had done some quick research on cheap places to volunteer in Costa Rica. Rainsong sounded right up my alley, small town in the jungle, work with animals, not to mention the price! I have been disturbed and disheartened by what I have found here.

I do not recommend this “sanctuary” whatsoever. The cages for the animals are far from sanitary, let alone large enough to hold the animals captive in them. It is a sentence worse than death for the poor animals here. The owner, Mary appears to want to run a petting zoo rather than a sanctuary. She has no plans on setting any of the animals free. She has no knowledge of what animal care really is and is uninformed about the dietary needs of the animals. In the time I have been here, two animals have died, and it is not an uncommon occurrence. Mary will sit in her room all day and watch TV and smoke weed while her volunteers, whom the locals call " slaves", are working their hardest to keep this place running.

Currently, Mary has three grown porcupines that are in perfect health and would be fine to be set out into the wild. She has an iguana, for only God knows what reason, it too could be set free. She has three howler monkeys that are consistently getting sick, I believe due to the incorrect diet and lack of cage sanitization. The local vet has told Mary on numerous occasions that things need to change around Rainsong or she will be shut down. Up until recently, Mary would refuse to allow us to sterilize the monkey’s bottles after each use and to replace their milks with fresh milk for the next feeding. At any point in time when you try to suggest anything to Mary she would lose it and start screaming at you.

Recently we had a baby howler monkey, sweet Evie, die in the middle of the night because Mary got high and forgot to check on her like she said she would. Evie died because of dehydration caused by Mary overheating the incubator. In my last blog I told the story of the baby raccoon that died from the improper medication Mary gave it. The vet in the area was appalled when she got all this information. After the vet came in to de-worm the animals she demanded that Mary adjust her routines. The cages need to be cleaned with Clorox at LEAST once a week and new animals must be quarantined with one specific volunteer tending to the one animal in case of cross contamination.

Mary is already trying to get out of these new rules. Shocked? I’m not.

We received a new baby howler monkey and Mary insisted that he get his recommended amount of liquids for the day. When the monkey refused to drink more Mary grabbed him from my arms and demanded we force feed him. The monkey was distressed (how could he not be) and bit Mary and she then threw him to the ground. This is not the only case where Mary demanded we force feed the monkeys at Rainsong. She will not try new tactics, or listen to other alternatives. The monkeys are already traumatized being abandoned by their family and then they are put into a hostile environment where they're being forced to do something they're resistant to.

Accomodation at Rainsong will be far from what you hope. The shack that Mary calls the farm is poorly built and terrifying to those less rustic. Most new volunteers take one look at the shack and say “f**k this”. I was brave and tried it out. It is not as bad as it looks but it is far from what Mary makes it out to be. If you do not bring a mosquito net expect to wake up covered in bites and possibly a swarm of army ants. She is always expecting couples to stay up at “Honeymoon hut” which is a smaller shack further into the jungle with no walls, no mattresses (unless you want to fight the rat family living in one), no gate to keep the goats out, no electricity and no running water. They would have to hike the 10mins down to the farm to use the kitchen and to go to the washroom.

There are many varying opinions about Mary and Rainsong out there and this is mine. I think that at some point Rainsong was started with the best intentions but got lost along the way. Unfortunately, the volunteers who come hoping to do some good work are supporting this sad situation so it will continue. I can see why Mary insists you pay your "donation" upfront as many will and do leave when they see what's going on. I can only hope that eventually the vets or authorities will close this place down. Until then I urge you to volunteer elsewhere in Costa Rica.
1 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
rainsongadvocate says:

I spent in all about 6 months at Rainsong. Unfortunately as most volunteers are just passing through, there is no way for you to know all the ins and outs of what is involved in this project.

You do not know how heart-breaking it is to dedicate your life to a cause a huge as Rainsong's. Animals often come to Rainsong beyond repair. Decisions have to be made in the moment, and it's not always a success, but the intent remains pure... to save and support what we can.

Many of the animals cannot be released according to the laws of Costa Rica. Many of the animals cannot be released because they do not know how to survive on their own following illness or injury. Many animals HAVE been released successfully, and many have found their way back to Rainsong by choice!

Managing volunteers is like managing a day-care. Many volunteers are more interested in having parties and gossiping, than supporting the project. Rainsong is probably the least expensive volunteer opportunity out there, and unfortunately because of that, attracts shoe-string travelers who do not really care about the earth, as much as they do about their 'vacation'. This is not all of them, and it is very difficult for the ones who are serious, because problem volunteers change the group dynamics and get kicked out in an attempt to salvage the dedication of serious and wonderful volunteers who try to avoid the drama.

Mary is frustrated and exhausted by the 'fight'. She is fighting for the earth, and it's a losing battle. Rainsong is a mission for the planet, and if you feel personally offended by how that mission is unfolding, you can choose to help out, or not.

It is unfortunate that you arrived at Rainsong (I imagine), with high hopes for being part of a worthy and awesome project, and somehow you got wrapped up in a fight about HOW the mission is being executed. Volunteers are paramount in Rainsong's success... and every volunteer there believes that they know what is best. Get over yourself. You would never be able to endure the magnitude of what Mary has, and still be sane. So go to Rainsong, love the animals and avoid instigating a selfish argument that detracts from the reason you were inspired to volunteer in the first place.
Posted on: Dec 04, 2010
canadian-gypsy says:
Mary in last few days has run off 9 volunteers, two of which got told to leave hours after they had just arrived. Everyone got out of the Farm as soon as possible so they did not have to deal with Mary. The next day two ex-volunteers went up to grab their toothbrushes and other various items they had forgotten. On their way up they saw one of Mary´s helpers on the way down from the Farm with a wheel barrow full of garbage bags. Mary had sent her helper to get EVERYTHING left at the farm to burn it. The volunteers had to struggle to get what was theirs back and Mary then came running out to the road with a camera. She was yelling at them to get off her land and that she was talking pictures for the police. This woman is not well.

I made the best of what I could volunteering for Mary. I had quite a good time when I was not around her. We all had fun at the beginning but, in the end Mary's behaviour and methods left us all disillusioned. She is now discussing not allowing certain nationalities to come and volunteer, one of those being Germans.
You can ask any zoo the proper diet for howler monkeys and they will tell you what Mary is giving them is bad for them. The diet for the animals is pitiful. Also as far as my comment of Mary throwing the baby monkey, not that it matters, but I have numerous witnesses that were there. Our jaws all hit the floor when it happened. Mary is also blaming poor Claudia (Germany) for killing Evie when Claudia was the one who offered to stay and keep an eye on her but Mary told her to go home and that she would take care of it.
I am not the only one that had a bad experience at Rainsong and the other 8 volunteers and myself will be posting all over the net how terrible of a place Rainsong is.
Posted on: Nov 22, 2010
savecrwildlife says:
Dear Canadian,
I guess I am the local vet you wrote about in this review, although I do not remember you being there when the animals were wormed. I do feel however you should be very careful not to put words into my mouth. I have not or would not try to shut Mary down. We are all trying to work together to create a better way to manage the damaged animals coming in. As far as killing the animals and throwing them on the ground??? Why on earth would you say those things. Although Rainsong is no where near to perfect, I believe Mary puts all her heart and soul into trying to help these animals. In my experience here, very few people give a damn about the wild animals. They hunt them, run them over, steel babies to keep as pets or turist eye candy. I can't begin to imagine how many monkeys have been electricuted on power lines because the ICE doesn't use insulated wires. And for all your complaints about Mary, excuse me, but who do think wants to care for the sick and injured wildlife? I for one do not. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to do this type of selfless work, and I have never seen anyone get rich doing it. So be very careful before you write your scandalous posts here, trying to destroy the only wildlife rescue center in the area.
Posted on: Nov 21, 2010
CalliePie CalliePie
1 reviews
Thanks for the warnings Nov 19, 2010
I offered my services (both as a volunteer and donor) to Rainsong a few weeks ago. I had read many conflicting reviews and had some concerns about conditions there. But I contacted them anyway to see if I could find out more and give the benefit of the doubt.

As an animal welfare advocate with 6 years experience in animal rescue, I thought Rainsong would be a perfect place for me to volunteer. I really did want to help, but also was afraid of what I might see there.

After a very terse correspondences from with Mary, I get the sense of something not quite right, and not the best attitude or communication abilities.

And the reports of the conditions there (from several sources on different forums and travel sites) make me listen to my gut instinct. That gut instinct is saying: stay away.

I appreciate individuals who leave their experiences, both good and bad, in detailed reviews here on TravBuddy and elsewhere.

It's up to each person to make a decision based on information available (and experience dealing with the management people at Rainsong). For me, it's no longer an option. I can't risk being involved in something that is being run improperly (whether well-intentioned or not) at the risk of these animals' health.

I learned my lesson at Tiger Temple Thailand. No need for me to do the same at Rainsong.

Just my opinion, and I do hope things get better there -- for the animals'sakes.
0 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
ja1736 ja1736
2 reviews
Amazing close up with amazing animals, living in the middle of the rainforest Dec 29, 2008
This place was amazing, there are a couple of bad reviews online, the reason there aren't always loads of animals is because they try to release animals back into the wild where possible.

I spent the most amazing 3 weeks on my life there, feeding and caring for Tarzan, the white capuchin monkey, playing with the prehensile tailed porcupines, the kinkajou, Bamboo the howler monkey and many more. It's not the most organised place, but in a way that helps you make more of a difference, you have a big say in whether you do animal care, planting or maybe even construction. I got to work with power tools to build a bigger cage for the baby howler monkey.

The accomodation was really back to basics, but i loved every minute of it. It you're lucky you can see whales from the hammock you sleep in, even if you're unlucky you still wake up to the most amazing view every morning.

Simon and Mary are really great as long as you're happy to get involved and be a little flexible with shifts. Working 4-6 hours a day gives you loads of time to explore Cabuya and Montezuma and all the volunteers mean you have a ready made group of friends to hang out with.

I can't wait to go back for longer next time, although need to get saving for that flight!
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
gurdlemcturtle says:
Can't wait to use my hard labor for the environment and furried-ones! Heading later in September for 6 months hopefully. Gotta get away from New England for GOOD!
Posted on: Mar 02, 2009

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