Cat Lovers – Where to See Costa Rica’s Wild Felines


In Costa Rica there are 6 species of wildcats. Most of the big cats in the country are nocturnal or hide in trees in the rainforest like the margay. Many of the wild cats are usually live in the nature reserves or in the remote and mountainous areas due to poaching and habitat loss. Wild cat species include ocelots, margay cats, Jaguars, Pumas, Jaguarundi and little spotted cats. The smallest wild cat is the little spotted cat. This cat usually does not grow bigger than a house cat. The Jaguar is the largest wild cat that can grow up to 2m. The second largest cat in Central America is the Puma. The margay is the best climber as it can twist its ankle 180° and it spends most of its life in trees. The Jaguarundi hunts day and night and has adapted to human changes. In Costa Rica, in San Jose, in the Simon Bolivar Zoo, you can find the wild cats. There are also other places to see these animals like Las Pumas in Guanacaste, and also in Jaguar Rescue Center. Here goes some of the places to see Costa Rica’s Wild Felines:

Northwest Region:

Las Pumas Rescue Center:

Margay_catIf you’re travelling to Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste, you can visit Las Pumas Rescue Center that is situated just outside the small city of Cañas along the Inter-Americana Highway. Primary goal of this animal rescue center to take care of the animals and after ensuring that those can survive in their natural habitat, release them into their wilderness. This center is housing big cats including pumas, jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis and margays. It also encourage society’s respect and appreciation for wildlife through these actions.

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Palo Verde National Park:

Palo Verde National Park is located on the bank of Tempisque river that covers an area of 45,492 acres in Guanacaste Province, 30 km west of Canas. The site include 15 different topographical zones, from those with mangrove swamps to others with evergreen forests. This park is also the home for the largest population of jaguarundis, a small brown wild cat found in Costa Rica.

Santa Rosa National Park:

Santa Rosa was the first park established in all of Costa Rica. This park has an abundance of flora and fauna reside in the park’s immense forests. This park protects some of the last remaining tropical dry forest in the planet. It is originally a farm located in the north-western Guanacaste Province, in Costa Rica and it includes rich flora and fauna. You can see several cat species in this park. Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Cougar and Jaguar are rarely seen.

Central Valley:

Lapaz Waterfall Gardens:

jaguarsIn this place you will get the opportunity to see a 200 lb. Jaguar face to face looking back at you through safety glass. You will enjoy watching Jaguars with their affectionate behaviors at the time they play, lick and snuggle together. You will also enjoy watching the Jaguarundi playing hide and seek and showing off his speed and agility. You will see the friendly Pumas leap around their habitat and often come to greet the visitors. In this park you will see five out of the six species of endangered Central American Cats. This center has the mission to preserve the genetics of the wild cat species in Costa Rica.

More info:

Southern Pacific Region:

Corcovado National Park:

Situated on the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the Osa Peninsula, this park has been referred to as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic. This park is residence of plethora of wildlife and exotic fauna that are unique to the Osa Peninsula. Corcovado is also a perfect place for various types of monkeys including ocelots, jaguars and anteaters. Though the Jaguar population within the park is the healthiest in all of Central America, it is not seen for  longer period of time even by the locals. This park is also home to other elusive cats including Puma, Jaguarundi and Margay.

More info:

Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve:

Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve was established in 1979 to protect forested lowland areas surrounding the Golfo Dulce Costa Rica and the Osa Peninsula, Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. This reserve also connects other national parks in the area and situated close to the Corcovado National Park and the Piedras Blancas National Park. This reserve is a perfect location for watching a variety of wildlife. This park also offers a natural environment perfect for all five species of wild cats of the country and it includes ocelots, jaguars, pumas, margays, and jaguarundis.

Southern Nicoya Peninsula:

Curu Wildlife Reserve:

It is a biologically diverse, private beachfront park between Paquera and Tambor on the southern Nicoya Peninsula. It is a small private reserve with a wealth of wildlife which can be easily seen at the ranger station or on the reserve’s many trails through the jungle. 5 % (84 hectares) of the 1,496 hectare property are protected under the terms of a “wildlife reserve”. In this park you will see different species of birds, mammals including including the unique big cat species such as ocelots, pumas, margay cats along with the indigenous collared peccari, coyote, anteaters, and otters.

More info:

Palo Verde National Park:

The Palo Verde National Park on the banks of the Rio Tempisque, in the Nicoya Peninsual, is one of the best wildlife and bird watching spots in Costa Rica. This park is also an important refuge for one of the last remainders of the deciduous dry forests of the Neotropics. It is known to hold the greatest population of Jaguarundis, small brown wild cats. Though these are smaller than domestic cats, they are not pets.

Northern Mountains:

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve:

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is considered as one of the well known cloud forest in the world for its rich biodiversity and important conservation contributions and scientific researches.  This reserve is home different species of birds, mammals including all five species of cats.

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Central Pacific Region:

Carara National Park:

Known as one of Costa Rica’s many beautiful national parks, the Carara National Park is in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is a 5,242-hectare park with an amazing diversity of flora and fauna. With a fantastic array of wildlife, this park is also home to several ecosystems such as lagoons, marshlands and gallery forests. In this park you can see different species of wild animals including margay cats, jaguars, sloths, opossums, crocodiles, white tail deer and many more and ozelots can also be found here.

More info:

Caribbean Region:

Jaguar Rescue Center:

Located in Puerto Viejo, Limón (Costa Rica), this center is a non-profit organization. It works to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals with the aim of releasing them back into protected areas. This rescue center offers its visitors the opportunity to make contact directly with wild cats, monkeys, sloths, marsupials, raccoons, reptiles, anteaters, amphibians and many more. Though it has taken its name from their first rescues- a baby jaguar, it is not just a center for rescued Jaguars. It takes all sorts of wildlife and most of them are not in enclosures.

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