La Selva Wildlife Refuge & Zoo

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Located on the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula and just seven miles south of Samara, La Selva Wildlife Refuge provides a unique look at some of Costa Rica's rarest animals that can be difficult to see in the wild.

Where is Located

Situated only 700 feet from Playa Carrillo, La Selva Wildlife Refuge has been saving local wildlife species for more than six years. For travelers who want to spend time participating in eco-tourism in Costa Rica, the refuge is a perfect place to spend some quality time.

The refuge is home to 36 different animal species and it rehabilitates animals of all types, from Costa Rica's treasured monkeys to the unique peccary, which is a member of the pig family. The margay leopard cat and the coatimundi can also be found here.

Wildlife Everywhere

In addition to the various mammals that can be found at La Selva Wildlife Refuge, the site is also home to a diverse population of reptiles, including the freshwater turtle, the American crocodile and the iguana. A number of bird species also reside in the refuge, including the local parrot, the rainbow-billed toucan and the collared aracari.

La Selva Wildlife Refuge is also not a typical zoo, as it strives to prepare wounded or abandoned creatures for daily life back in the wild. This makes it an important ecological center for the animal population throughout Costa Rica.

When to Do It

In order to get the most out of a trip to La Selva Wildlife Refuge, the owners and staff recommend taking a guided tour just before sunset, as this is perhaps the best time to see the animals, particularly the American crocodile.

Help the Refuge

Like many other refuges, it receives no direct funding from the Costa Rican government, so contributions and donations are appreciated and go towards food, medicine and other care for the animals.

Admission including a guided tour are very affordable, and the refuge is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The best way to reach the refuge is probably by car, passing by the majority of Playa Carrillo over a small bridge before reaching the hill on which it is located.