Photo credit: khooyu under Creative Commons

The Rescue Center

Our main goal is to build a Rescue Center & Animal Sanctuary (RCAS) dedicated to exotic and wild native animals.

Know more about our project below!

Why the necessity of a Rescue Center and Animal Sanctuary for exotic and native animals

The aim for creating the first Rescue Center & Animal Sanctuary in Portugal lies on the necessity to house both exotic animals and wild native non-recoverable species that are illegally detained, neglected or abused by their owners, offering them the proper health care and well being they need, until the end of their lives. In Portugal we only have rescue centers specific for wild native species, with no place for exotic animals. There are also no animal sanctuaries in the whole country. This project aims at giving a fast response to the urgent cases where animals are found in critical conditions,with the final goal of finding them a more adequate forever home, either on national soil or abroad, as long as they share the same policy and philosophy as our own (see principles and objectives below).

Principles and goals of the Rescue Center and Animal Sanctuary

By definition, an Animal Sanctuary is a shelter for animals that come from situations of abandon, neglect or abuse, offering them a home where they can feel protected. Sometimes the sanctuary can only serve as a temporary location until a better and more suitable place is found. The aim of animal sanctuaries is to offer a refuge for animals providing good health care and well being. Ina sanctuary, animals` well being should come first, and each action must bean analyzed in order to avoid human benefit over animals. Sanctuaries act on behalf of the animals, and the staff works under the condition that both humans and animal are equally important. An animal sanctuary is not open to the public the same way a zoo is, that means that people are not allowed to wander inside the facilities without an adequate escort. The sanctuary must prevent any activity that can put the animals under unnecessary stress, and also support anon reproduction and non exploitation policy.

Beside scaring for the animals, one very important mission is to educate the public, bringing awareness and changing mentalities regarding human attitudes towards animals.

The Rescue Center and Animal Sanctuary (now on represented by RCAS), aims to admit, recover, and offer shelter for a determinate period of time, providing the necessary care and welfare conditions, to animals that have been illegally apprehended and/or rescued by the competent authorities. Our aim will always be to rescue and find the best place for the animal to live the rest of his life. If the proper place is not found, and the RCAS gathers the conditions to keep the animal, he may permanently stay at the RCAS.

The RCAS share the same principles described above, where animals cannot be bought, sold, involved in any business, or animal testing. We advocate a policy of non reproduction, as our aim is not to increase animal populations, but rescue the maximum of animals that is physically and economically possible, to maintaining a viable and sustained activity. One of our goals is to offer a rich environment for the residents in order to allow the typical behaviors of the species in the most natural scenario possible.

Although our ambition is to help many different animals (exotic and native), our priority goes to the exotic species, as they are the ones more urgently in need of rescue. At the moment there is no place in Portugal that will shelter exotic animals that are found in illegal possession, abused, abandoned or neglected.

Our Aims Are

1) Offer a quarantine place for all animals that are desperately in need of rescue, such as the ones illegally detained, or suffering from abuse or neglect. The quarantine is also a place where animals get to have their health evaluated by a vet, before joining them to others in a more permanent facility, or sending them to another sanctuary. The sanctuaries where to relocated our animals must follow the same principles as the RCAS. We wish to establish a network of rescue centers and sanctuaries to work with.


2) Offer permanent installations for the resident species, or for the ones held in transition to a more adequate sanctuary (after quarantine period), as long as they share the same principles and philosophy as the RCAS. These installations should present the dimensions suitable for individuals to perform their natural behaviors, complemented with environmental enrichment.


3) Develop a center for formation and environmental education to create awareness on issues such as conservation, wildlife trafficking and animal welfare. We also intend to support investigators who wish to do their projects with us, as long as animals are not harmed in any way.

Current Situation


At the moment, exotic species that are apprehended by the authorities have two destinies, they are either allocated to zoos and parks or they remain with their owners/handlers as trustees, thus remaining frequently in inadequate and/or illegal conditions.

Note: we are now waiting for the ICNF authorization to resume all information about which species are in illegal condition and which are the ones in more need of rescue.

Native wild species

Rescue centers in Portugal have the mission to receive, offer first medical aid and keep the animals for a short period of time, before releasing them back into the wild. Sometimes these animals are not recoverable and they are either sent to a zoo/park or they are euthanized. The RCAS would offer a definite place for these animals that although incapable of returning to the wild, they can still live with a good quality of life.

Reports from two Portuguese rescue centers (CERVAS & RIAS) show that many apprehensions from illegal detentions of wild native species are often domesticated to a point that can no longer survive in the wild. Between 2008 and 2013 the Centro de Ecologia, Recuperação e Vigilância de Animais Silvestres (CERVAS) has transferred 30 animals to other locations, whereas the Centro de Recuperação e Investigação de Animais Selvagens (RIAS) between 2009 and 2013 has transferred 14 animals. However, the reasons behind transfers and euthanasia are not known, neither the places where the animals are transferred.But we must believe that euthanasia is mostly due to the poor physical conditions and suffering of the animals.

RCAS proceedings regarding the destiny of the rehabilitated animals


Offer quarantine and temporary shelter to all exotic species coming from various different situations, with the aim of finding them the most suitable sanctuary that can offer the best conditions to house the animal, as long as its philosophy matches the one of RCAS. After receiving the animal it might be necessary to rehabilitate him physically or/and behaviorally, which will be done by the RCAS.

Native wild species

Native wild species with no chance of being integrated in their natural environment,but showing capacity to live with quality should be homed at RCAS avoid being allocated to places where they will be explored (such as zoos and parks) or euthanized. The Portuguese wildlife rescue centers do not keep animals that cannot be reintroduced in their natural environment. For example, animals that are apprehended for illegal home possession tend to be more domesticated, less fearful of humans and with no hunting skills, thus less prepared to go back to the wild. Other cases that might come by are the ones involving animals with physical disabilities, or reproductive success compromised and to which rescue centers have a hard time to find solution for.