Nature (Season 34) – Jungle Animal Hospital

Air date: 05/18/2016

THIRTEEN’s Nature Focuses on Efforts to Rehabilitate

Rescued Wildlife in Guatemala on

Jungle Animal Hospital

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 on PBS

Veterinarians and staffers work to give animals a second chance

Deep in the Guatemalan jungle, there’s an organization whose staff works around the clock to try to save and care for injured, orphaned and endangered animals brought to its facility from all over the country. This rescue center, known as ARCAS, is at full capacity with over seven hundred boarders of all shapes and sizes, chiefly victims of the illegal pet trade. However, the team still tries to accommodate additional rescued animals arriving daily.

The program centers on the work and challenges faced by jungle veterinarian Alejandro Morales, his zoologist girlfriend Anna Bryant, and their group of dedicated staff and volunteers, as they try to rehabilitate and prepare all types of wildlife for a return to the wild. Jungle Animal Hospital airs Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode will be available for limited online streaming at

Filmmakers spent a year documenting the work being done at Guatemala’s busiest rescue center so they could follow the challenges faced by the staff, such as Anna Bryant’s efforts to make sure a troop of spider monkeys would finally be ready to go back to the wild after several years of rehabilitation. Her observations indicate that an adult male, called Bruce, still needs to learn to socialize more with his troop and spend more time up in the trees where it is safer if he has any hope of surviving in the jungle.

Bryant, who cares for all of the young orphaned animals at ARCAS, is also seen bottle-feeding a new arrival, a month-old spider monkey, whose mother was killed trying to protect her baby. Bryant explains how she has to strike a balance to form just enough of a bond to care for these babies, and yet not to be a constant presence hindering the rehab process. After three months in quarantine, the baby orphan will join other rescued spider monkeys to form their own troop and begin the five-year process of preparing for a return to the wild.

As a veterinarian treating such a variety of wild animals at the rescue center, Alejandro Morales is used to improvising when necessary. The film shows him anesthetizing a rare bird, a baby northern potoo, with a makeshift gas mask in order to operate on its broken leg. It is the first potoo ever sent to ARCAS. Although the surgery went well, attempts to figure out what food it likes did not and Morales worries the potoo can’t heal if it won’t eat. The vets also work with authorities at checkpoints on roads leading out of the jungle to locate newly-hatched baby parrots being smuggled out on buses. During the breeding season, more than a hundred baby parrots a month arrive at the center and Morales believes most can be returned to the jungle in two years as long as the team can rehydrate and feed them.

The program also documents the first time that captive-bred scarlet macaws are released into the wild in Guatemala. This history-making event marked the culmination of the center’s first captive-breeding program, led by ARCAS Director Fernando Martinez, to increase the scarlet macaw population. There are plans to release 40 more over the next five years.

Meanwhile, work never stops for the rescue center team as they continue to rehabilitate more monkeys, jaguars, armadillos, crocs and gray foxes for release; to receive new arrivals in need of care; and to track those spider monkeys and scarlet macaws, fitted with satellite collars, to determine if they are succeeding in the wild.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Jungle Animal Hospital is a co-production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC and BBC in association with WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 16 Emmys and three Peabodys. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media. is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.

Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, Sandra Atlas Bass, Rosalind P. Walter, Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.




About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere:




Sorry, photography is no longer in rights for the web. Please contact Thirteen's Communications Department at 212.560.3022.