Jeremy Levine is the founder and director of Wild Sun Rescue. Based in Cabuya, Costa Rica, Wild Sun Rescue is a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of our local wildlife… continuously striving to find solutions to the threats they face.”
While the organization serves a variety of species, its primary focus is the survival of howler monkeys, who, due to human interaction, have lost much of their habitat in Costa Rica.
But how did Jeremy come to be the devoted conservationist he is today? While he did not take a traditional path towards a career in sustainability, he was able to apply the seemingly unrelated knowledge he accrued throughout his formative years to the creation of a world-changing entity.
How Did Jeremy Levine End Up in Costa Rica?
Jeremy was born and raised in the state of New York. While he has always possessed a love for animals, he initially saw himself entering a career in film, hence his decision to major in film at Syracuse University.
After graduation, he moved to Southern California in an attempt to both escape New York’s cold climate and break into the film industry.
While in California, he developed yet another passion: business. He began an MBA program at the University of Southern California.
Between semesters, he traveled to Costa Rica to learn Spanish, which he felt would make him a more viable candidate for jobs within the business world.
He fell in love with the country, and he decided he would found his first business there.
What Led to Jeremy Levine Becoming a Conservationist?
Jeremy’s first business was a Cabuya-based school that taught students Spanish, surfing, yoga, and fire dancing.
“I found a hotel that was struggling,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s partner up. I can fill up your hotel with my students.’”
The hotel allowed Jeremy to use its space for classes, a partnership that proved mutually beneficial, as Jeremy’s school was an instant success.
However, there was something missing in Jeremy’s life: his business success did not satisfy his innate desire to make the world a better place.
Down the road from Jeremy’s school, an animal rescue center had recently closed down. Prior to its closing, Jeremy had forged a friendship with the owner, who suggested to him that he pick up where she left off and preserve the legacy of the rescue center. He saw this as a golden opportunity.
“I thought of myself as a 10 year-old,” he said. “I would become what would’ve been my own hero when I was that age.”
And thus Wild Sun Rescue was born.
What Exactly Do Jeremy Levine and Wild Sun Rescue Do?
Essentially, Wild Sun Rescue’s goal is to nurse injured animals, primarily monkeys, back to health then re-release them into the wild.
Due to negative human interaction (i.e. habitat destruction, hit and runs, and electrocutions), much of Cabuya’s wildlife population lives in a heightened state of danger.
This is especially true for monkey populations, who, because of deforestation, often can’t swing from tree to tree, resulting in life-threatening falls.
Additionally, electrocutions are common occurrences for the species, as 98% of Costa Rica’s power lines are not insulated.
After being nursed back to health, the wildlife are placed in a controlled environment with limited human interaction.
“We collaborate with these farm owners, who provide 250-some acres of land,” Jeremy said.
“They’ve given us an area where we can put an electric fence around the jungle. Here, the monkeys can be in nature and as far away from humans as possible.”
In addition to wildlife rescue, Wild Sun Rescue hosts internship programs for prospective biologists and veterinarians, giving those pursuing careers in these fields the opportunity to gain invaluable real-world experience.
How Does Jeremy Levine Fund Wild Sun Rescue?
Like most non-profit organizations, the biggest struggle in running Wild Sun Rescue is fundraising.
“Raising funds is tricky,” Jeremy said. “We’ve amassed supporters through our Patreon page, from which we make around $2,600 a month. But our expenses are around $20,000 a month.” “We currently need more enclosures, better salaries for employees, and better vet equipment. That being said, we’re doing good.”
So, outside of Patreon, how does Wild Sun Rescue attain the whopping $20,000 per month required to keep its doors open? Well, this is where Jeremy’s MBA comes in handy.
“I find myself creating businesses to finance the organization,” he said. “I founded a hotel, the revenue of which funds the rescue center. Our internship program is a micro-business.”
“In the summer of 2024, we’ll be hosting a summer camp for kids. And we’re about to open a restaurant and bar. All of these ventures will fund Wild Sun.”
While Jeremy may not be a biologist or veterinarian himself, his background in business has proven invaluable to the maintenance of Wild Sun Rescue.
He exemplifies the fact that people of all backgrounds can find ways to be heroes.
What Are Jeremy Levine’s Goals?
In collaboration with Vernon Arias, Jeremy assisted in the rerelease of the scarlet macaw species into the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Seeing the macaws repopulate the region has been incredibly inspiring for Jeremy, and he wishes to see the same happen with another endangered species, the spider monkey.
“The conservation of the spider monkey is our aspiration,” he said.
On a broader scale, Jeremy seeks to reshape the environment to be more accommodating towards wildlife.
Because of deforestation, monkeys and other animals have lost their habitat, making them more prone to electrocution, hit and runs, fatal falls from trees, and poaching.
If there were greater environmental connectivity (that is, abundance in forestry, which would allow monkeys to swing from tree to tree) in the region, the survival rates of wildlife would increase.
Despite the prominence of deforestation and pollution, Jeremy is optimistic about the future of the environment; he understands that change begins at an individual level, and by doing all that he can to make the world a better place, he is inspiring others to make even bigger strides.
“There are things that are under our control, and there are things that are out of our control,” he said. “I see the environment around me, and I want it to be a better place for my children and for me. My hope is that I can inspire other people to do the same things, to do them even better.”
“We’re training the next generation of vets, and a lot of them want to work in conservation because of their experience here,” Jeremy explained. “I’m optimistic. The work that I do is already showing dividends.”
Jeremy Levine on Heroism
Given Jeremy’s 15+ years of service to wildlife, he is certainly qualified to define the word “hero.”
According to him, a hero is one who “sacrifices something for the greater good, be it their emotional wellbeing or their own time/money/resources. A hero thinks of others and does everything they can to make sure they’re in a better place.”
With regards to his own heroes, Jeremy cites Pete Bethune and Jane Goodall. Bethune is a New Zealand-based conservationist who has worked tirelessly to end the inhumane practice of Japanese whaling.
Goodall is an anthropologist who is widely regarded as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees; she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, a global wildlife conservation organization.
The Jane Goodall Institute is an example of the monumental organization that Wild Sun Rescue could very well become.
Jeremy Levine Is a Hero
By founding Wild Sun Rescue, Jeremy is using his knowledge of business to do more than simply achieve financial success.
He is sacrificing his time and money for the good of the world around him.
To him, the knowledge that once-injured animals are able to roam free once again is payment enough for his hard work.
Wild Sun Rescue Resources
Learn more about Wild Sun Rescue Center.
Donate to Wild Sun by becoming a member, making a wish list purchase, or with a one-time gift.
Sponsor the care of a specific animal by symbolically adopting one.
Help Wild Sun expand and improve wildlife enclosures for sick, injured and orphaned animals.
Shop Wild Sun merch, where 100% of the proceeds go towards supporting animal rescue efforts in Costa Rica.
Volunteer to take care of the animals.
Develop your career in wildlife biology, conservation, veterinary medicine, and more by interning.
Contribute to the welfare and conservation of the rescue center’s animals by vacationing at the Wild Sun Jungle Resort.
Meet Wild Sun’s animals on Instagram.
Get updates on their rescues on Facebook.
Watch their animals monkey around on YouTube.