How Two 9-Year-Old Friends Saved an Endangered Species

Saving Costa Rican Monkeys

Story at-a-glance -

  • This is the amazing story of two little girls who decided they wanted to save the rainforest of Costa Rica. One of their first projects was to build rope bridges for monkeys to use to get across roads.
  • With the help of one of the girls’ moms, they set up a 501(c)3 called Kids Saving the Rainforest (KTSR), and since 1999 when the program started, KTSR has placed 130 “monkey bridges” in the rainforest. And the bridges have really paid off -- one endangered population of monkeys has more than doubled in size with the help of the ropes.
  • KTSR has also worked with Costa Rica schools and the National Park Service to plant 7,000 rainforest trees. In addition, the organization runs the Wildlife Rescue Center and Sanctuary, which provides state-of-the-art care to about 120 rescued wild animals each year.

By Dr. Becker

Visitors to Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica can’t help but notice all the ropes strung across roads throughout the park, and many wonder why they are there. The story behind the ropes is actually quite captivating, and starts with two little girls who had a big idea.

“Monkey Bridges” Save an Endangered Species from Extinction

Fifteen years ago, 9-year-old friends Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone had a common, if lofty, goal: they wanted to save the rainforest. To raise money, they set up a little roadside stand and sold hand-made trinkets. But the money they earned wasn’t enough to save the rainforest, so they decided instead to make “monkey bridges” – which are the ropes strung across all the roads in the Costa Rica national park.

The ropes make it possible for monkeys to get safely across the road without having to climb on power lines, which can be deadly.

Now a decade and a half later, the girls’ monkey bridges have grown into quite a large operation. Over 130 of the ropes have been placed so far in areas where monkeys are known to travel. And since the beginning of the program, the endangered Titi squirrel monkey population has more than doubled!

Wildlife Rescue Center Provides Care for Over 100 Animals Each Year

With the help of Janine’s mother, the girls founded Kids Saving the Rainforest and worked with Costa Rica’s National Park Service and schools to plant 7,000 rainforest trees. They also run the area’s only legal rescue center, the Wildlife Rescue Center and Sanctuary.

The rescue center is staffed with a full-time Wildlife Manager/Primatologist, a part-time veterinarian, and other professionals and volunteers who provide state-of-the-art care for about 120 wild animals rescued each year. These include Titi monkeys, capuchins, two- and three-toed sloths, a jaguarundi, kinkajous, and raccoons. The center boasts an above average 50 percent release rate back into the wild.

Animals that are unlikely to survive or thrive in the wild, as well as animals that are not indigenous to the area, live out their lives at the center’s sanctuary.

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