Our History as Zoo Ave

We're no longer Rescate Zoo Ave.

“International donors are currently put off by the word ‘zoo’ in our name, so we need the name to reflect the conservational work we do. We will transform our marketing, branding, and website over the course of the next few months – these changes will generate more understanding of our mission and subsequently, more help for the animals we rescue”.

Dennis Janik, Executive Director and Founder, Rescate Wildlife

Rescate Zoo Ave in Costa Rica is now Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center

The previously owned “Zoo Ave” in Costa Rica was a dilapidated private zoo located in La Garita de Alajuela in the 1960s, with facilities and a framework that focused on the export and exhibition of wildlife. The principal motivation of the previously owned facilities was to earn profit from wildlife. In the late 1980s, Dennis Janik (our founder), purchased the former Zoo Ave so he could rescue the animals living there and give them a better quality of life. His plans were to transform the zoo to an animal sanctuary and rescue center over time.  

In 1990 Dennis set up the non-profit organization ‘Fundación Restauración de la Naturaleza’ (The Nature Restoration Foundation) to manage Zoo Ave, that would officially change the former zoo into a sanctuary and rescue center. Zoo Ave itself was renamed and became ‘Rescate Animal Zoo Ave’ with a new administration and vision, to not only improve the lives of the animals living in the former Zooave but also to rescue and release wildlife, provide lifetime care for non-releasable animals and breed non-releasable endangered species so their offspring can be returned to the wild. The foundation eliminated the previous inadequate facility and moved the animals to a larger property of 36 acres that borders the Itiquís River and forms a critical biological corridor.

By the mid-1990s, the facility in La Garita de Alajuela had evolved to include a highly functional Wildlife Rescue Center, a Lifetime Care Sanctuary for non-releasable animals and a Conservation Breeding Center for the reproduction and release of endangered species. 

However, as Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center saves native species from all across Costa Rica, there was a need to establish release sites in other areas to ensure that rescued animals are released into appropriate habitat types. Consequently, in the late 1990s, Fundación Restauración de la Naturaleza (The Nature Restoration Foundation) established the Bosque Escondido Wildlife Refuge, a 1,800-acre dry tropical forest in the Nicoya Peninsula and; Golfito, a 90-acre tropical rainforest on the Osa Peninsula. Experienced, dedicated staff members live at these two release sites and provide a highly effective soft-release process for rescued wildlife that ensures the highest possible survival rates.

Why did we decide to change our name to Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center in 2020?

As we realized that international visitors were confusing Zoo Ave with a zoo, we realized that our mission could be misunderstood with this name. A zoo is typically an establishment, which keeps animals for the main focus of generating a profit from attracting visitors by exhibiting animals. This has never been our intention. To understand why we are different from zoos and other rescue centers, please read on in Our Uniqueness page. For Costa Ricans, Zooave has always been known for curing and releasing the majority of the animals we receive. Therefore, we have kept ZooAve in our new logo to maintain continuity for our local supporters. Read more on our recent name change here.

How can you help Rescate Zoo Ave and our transition to Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center?

If you would like to help us continue to fulfil our mission and vision of rescuing native wild animals and returning them to the wild where they belong you can: