How Kids Helped Save the Rainforest

A non-profit organization started by two 9-year old girls

What would you do if you saw your backyard being destroyed?  What if your backyard actually was the rainforest in Costa Rica?  In 1999, in Manuel Antonio, two 9-year-old girls decided that was wrong, and they decided to do something about it.  They founded Kids Saving the Rainforest, a non-profit organization determined to solve an ecological problem.  They have achieved amazing results in the years that followed since then, such as rescuing hundreds of animals and planting thousands of trees.  Even more amazing when you learn that their first fund-raising efforts came from selling hand-painted rocks for a handful of colones.

White-faced Monkey Image By Elena Crouch

Their efforts are now focused on four primary areas to support rainforest preservation, and the animals that make it home.


By focusing on reforesting the diminishing rainforest regions around Manuel Antonio, this project has planted over 100,000 trees in their community and on a donated piece of land located in Parrita, just outside of Quepos.  These efforts have preserved the territory of endangered plant species, and have also significantly expanded the habitats of endangered species, such as the Squirrel Monkey, more famously known as the Mono Titi Monkey.

 The Monkey Bridge Program

Crossing the Monkey Bridge Image by Elena Crouch

The Squirrel Monkey is one of Central America’s most endangered species with its population declining from 200,000 to less than 5,000 in only the past 50 years.  Electrocution from wires across the roads in Manuel Antonio is one of the primary threats to the Squirrel Monkey, and other species that use the treetops as their mode of transportation.  Partnership with the local electric company, ICE, to create bridgeways across the roads has made an amazing difference.  Now the local monkey species can safely cross on the bridgeways, rather than using the potentially fatal electric wires to get across roads.  Kids Saving the Rainforest has been instrumental in installing over 130 such bridges throughout Manuel Antonio.  Over 13 different species of monkeys has been seen using these bridges to safety.

The KSTR Wildlife Rescue Clinic

3-toed sloth Image by Elena Crouch

With a 55% release rate, they are really making a difference when you consider that the average rate of release is only 33% in other projects.  In fact, this clinic is the only rescue and rehabilitation center in this region.  They have released squirrel monkeys, jaguarundis, kinkajous, two- and three-toed sloths just to name a few of their success stories.  This team of professionals includes two wildlife biologists, a wildlife vet and vet tech, a band of dedicated volunteers, and has rescued over 200 animals this year.  2016 has seen 52 animals rescued so far, and the project expects that number to increase.  They have started on yet another change-making project to create a sloth research project, which is only waiting for sufficient funding.

The KSTR Wildlife Sanctuary

Two-toed sloth Image by Elena Crouch

The Sanctuary has created a location that is similar to their natural habitat where injured or traumatized animals can recover, yet are not able to successfully return to their forest homes.  The vision is to open an educational center in the future, where other kids can learn about how they can make a difference in protecting our natural environment and its creatures that depend on it.  The Sanctuary is open every morning, except Tuesdays, for tours where you can visit with the animals recovering there, and learn more about all the great deeds already accomplished by this dynamic project.

 If you would like to get involved

There are a number of different ways that you can support this important and growing organization.

  • Volunteer Everyone is welcome to come and volunteer, whether you have any or no experience at all.
  • Sponsor Every tax-deductible donation you make does make a difference.  Your donations can be used to sponsor a specific animal needing care at the Wildlife Sanctuary, the new sloth research project, or build more Monkey Bridges on the roadways around Manuel Antonio.  Given that these rainforests are so close to the National Park, there is a lot of movement into and out of the Park.  These bridges are vital to keep the monkeys safe while they travel their territory.
  • Their Wish List When you purchase items available on their website, you then help the project gain the services, products, and support they need to keep up the great work they have done so far.
  • Up To You If you have a special skill, talent, idea, or experience you think might be helpful, the Kids Saving the Rainforest is open to discussing how you can help.

These two young girls went on to create a non-profit organization, a rescue center, a wildlife sanctuary, as well as various reforestation projects that keep the local wildlife safe.  What a difference anyone can make who is willing to address ‘that’s not right’, and go on to do something about it!


VIAJannette MacKinnon
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