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January 21, 2010

HSI Launches Model Wildlife Center Network in Central America

Humane Society International

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — As part of an ongoing effort to reduce illegal wildlife trade through improved implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Humane Society International, in collaboration with four potential model rescue centers in Central America, is conducting a Model Wildlife Rescue Center Network Workshop Jan. 26-27 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Participants will include representatives from ARCAS in Guatemala, FAZOONIC in Nicaragua, Zoo Ave in Costa Rica, and FUNZEL and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in El Salvador.

"The goal of the workshop is to create an electronic network among model rescue centers in Central America to exchange information, best practices and contacts to better respond to the needs of confiscated wildlife in the region," said Tracy O'Toole, director of wildlife development programs for HSI.  

Since 2003, HSI has worked in the region with national governments and local NGOs to improve the implementation of domestic environmental laws and to preserve the region's rich biodiversity. HSI has worked to strengthen rescue centers by providing infrastructure support grants and technical assistance to improve the ability of centers to treat, rehabilitate and, where appropriate, release confiscated wildlife back to the wild.

The network will help the selected centers achieve long-term sustainability and develop best practices in animal rehabilitation and treatment. The workshop will allow the rescue centers to define the parameters of the network for the first year, share their infrastructure and protocol improvements plans for the coming 18 months and elect a coordinator for the initiative. The workshop will also include a representative from the Global Federation of Animal sanctuaries so that the centers may move toward attaining model rescue center status in accordance with international standards.


  • CITES is a treaty that governs the international trade in endangered plants and animals.
  • Animals such as scarlet macaws, spider monkeys, boa constrictors and yellow-naped parrots are removed from their natural habitat to be traded illegally as pets, food, skins, or for certain medicinal purposes. 
  • Of the more than 5,000 animals confiscated annually in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the majority are birds and reptiles followed by mammals and amphibians. 
  • The shortage of viable rescue centers limits the region's ability to rehabilitate and release wildlife to reinforce native populations that have suffered major losses due to habitat destruction and poaching.


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Humane Society International and its affiliate organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.

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