We asked our Release Site team to create a Release Site Survival Guide of what it takes to live and work at the Release Site. They all put their heads together and thought up two lists. One for those newcomers wanting to know what they’re getting themselves into and the second for what items they should bring before they arrive.
Something everyone must know before working at a wildlife release site is that it can be challenging. You’re in a remote area where your primary focus will always be the animals. It requires long days and a lot of motivation to see that the program is running both effectively and efficiently.
So the team reflected on what it takes to live in the jungle with complete strangers, 13 sloths, 10 toucans, three opossums, two dogs, one tamandua, and an abundance of wildlife.
The “What it Takes” List:
- An open mind
- A limited sense of vanity – for those ladies out there, makeup is not needed
- Undeveloped food pallet and liking for rice and beans because that’s the traditional Costa Rican dish and that’s what’s on the menu for each meal.
- The ability to drive a car, have a valid driver’s license, and know how to drive a manual
- A good attitude and the ability to be a good sport – there are times where it will be raining for what seems like forever, you’ll be covered in mosquito bites and still have a list of things to do, so get outside and get them done
- A good sense of humor – because living and working with the same people day in and day out, near and with little privacy, you get almost TOO acquainted with your housemates/colleagues
- Fresh ideas – since the Release Site is in its infancy there is room for new ideas and projects to sink your teeth into, so come with eyes that are open to improving a small yet steadfast wildlife release site
- A good work ethic
- The jungle is LOUD, although you live in a small town off the beaten path, the rain, the bugs, and the animals make a lot of noise. Bring earplugs, eyemask – or just learn to be a heavy sleeper
- Understanding that you will most likely experience cabin fever
- A tolerance for wet muddy dogs – let us rephrase that – wet muddy everything
The “What Do I Need to Bring” List:
- Waterproofing and be sure to waterproof everything – including phone case
- Wellies aka Gum Boots Aka Rain Boots
- Rain Coat – necessary (or maybe bring a couple)
- Durable rain poncho
- At least two towels – we’ve found that backpacking towels are easiest
- A lot of bug spray and if you’re allergic, coconut oil works well too
- Thick wool socks will be your best friend during cold nights and many hours working in your boots
- AVOID cotton clothing – athletic quick dry natural colored clothing is recommended (bright colors stress out birds)
- Bring clothes you don’t plan on bringing back because they’re going to get dirty and worn-out
- Baseball cap
- Travel pillow
- Durable water bottle(s)
- Any of your favorite snacks
- Your favorite type of shampoo and conditioner (all toiletries) as they are twice as expensive here and/or hard to come by where the Release Site is located
- Laptop, iPad or Kindle (be sure to have it insured or on warranty because it’s a humid climate and things tend to stop working) so you have a way to entertain yourself
- Anti-itch cream
- A camera and a long lens for your camera if you have one
- A hammock – it is nice to string up on the porch when you’re on a break
Do you think you have what it takes?
A note from your Release Site Team:
It might be difficult to adapt at first, but we can promise you by the end of your time volunteering or interning you’re going to have a hard time leaving. You will have developed a full-fledged case of Stockholm Syndrome, without a doubt. The Toucan Rescue Ranch Release Site and the animals can steal your heart right from under your nose.
Georgie, Kendall, Paulina and Alice: the Release Site Pioneers
PS: Whilst we can make fun of “jungle living” we still think this list will help you acclimatize to your experience at the Release Site.