A rescued Costa Rican jaguar named Celeste has emerged victorious in a global contest recognizing the unique personalities of animals in captivity. Organized by the nonprofit World Animal Protection, Celeste was nominated to represent Costa Rica by the Las Pumas Sanctuary and Rescue Center in Cañas, Guanacaste.
Out of countless nominees from around the world, Celeste made it to the top five finalists, competing against a bear, chimpanzee, elephant, and fellow Costa Rican anteater. According to Las Pumas, Celeste was originally found as a cub near Tenorio National Park and brought to them after initial rehabilitation, as big cats like jaguars cannot be re-released into the wild once accustomed to humans.
At the sanctuary, despite initial shyness, staff say Celeste displayed a lively personality through her love of diving into pools and playing in water. “Beyond her unique eating habits, her love for playing in the pool and diving are what made her stand out. These endearing qualities led us to nominate her,” said Las Pumas’ Esther Pomareda.
After being selected as a finalist, the ultimate decision came down to worldwide online voting. In late September, Las Pumas received the thrilling news that Costa Rica’s beloved Celeste had won the global contest, beating out thousands of other nominees.
“It’s profoundly touching to realize that our dedication to ensuring Celeste’s well-being resonated with so many worldwide. They saw her unique personality, untouched by captivity, and chose to support her with their votes,” remarked a grateful Pomareda.
As part of the prize, World Animal Protection granted Las Pumas $10,000 to further their mission of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. For a nonprofit like Las Pumas, which runs on variable private funding and ₡300,000 in annual costs, Pomareda said these funds are invaluable when taking on new rehabilitation projects.
Las Pumas Sanctuary in Cañas, Guanacaste survives without governmental assistance and welcomes visitors to meet Celeste and other rescued wildlife. Entry is ₡3,000 for adults, ₡1,000 for kids under 12, and $12 for foreigners. To learn more or get involved, the center can be reached at 8479-7025.
Thanks to her bubbly personality shining through despite her circumstances, Celeste has brought international recognition to the great work of Costa Rica’s animal rescuers.
Source : Tico Times