Director – Jeremy Adam Levine
Jeremy moved to Costa Rica, opening a Spanish, yoga, surf, and fire dancing school in 2007. Because of the area’s need for an animal rescue center and his love for the local wildlife, he decided to start Wild Sun. Coupling volunteering with his program allows travelers to learn and give back while experiencing one of the world’s most beautiful and biodiverse areas.
Jeremy is certified in wildlife rehabilitation and pain and wound management from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and has an MBA from USC Marshall plus a BA in Television, Radio and Film from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. He is dedicated to helping local wildlife and educating all about the importance of our ecosystems and maintaining balance.
Chief Biologist- Vernun Arias Vega
Vernun has over 20 years of experience working with wildlife in Costa Rica. His focus is on wildlife management and environmental sustainability. He has worked extensively with reintroduction as a tool for wildlife conservation. To date Vernun has successfully bred and released 160 scarlet macaws which are actively breeding in the wild, bringing our area a current population of over 230 birds! Vernun is also on the board of directors of the Association for the Biological Corridor of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Veterinary Advisor & AVMA Externship Supervisor - E. Marie Rush, DVM, DACZM
After receiving her DVM from Auburn University, Marie continued her pursuit of a career in wildlife conservation medicine with a rotating medicine and surgery internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City followed with a residency in clinical zoo and wildlife medicine and surgery at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Following this, she served at the Birmingham Zoo as the Director of Veterinary Services and Curator of Ectotherms.
In 2007, Marie began teaching zoo, wildlife and exotic animal medicine as Assistant Professor at Auburn University. From 2009 to 2018 Marie served as an Associate Professor in pathobiology and as Coordinator of Wildlife Research, also teaching zoo & exotic animal medicine & disease at St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She was named a senior research fellow at the Winward Islands Research and Education Foundation.
Dr. Rush joined the Antech Imaging Services team in 2015, serving in telemedicine and diagnostic imaging interpretation. Marie serves as the veterinary advisor for the SSP for Chinese Alligators and worked on the project to repatriate Eastern Indigo snakes to the southeastern United States.
She continues to enjoy the opportunity to mentor others and inspire a passion for the natural world through conservation medicine, research and education.
Veterinarian - Dr. Eduardo Ruiz
Eduardo is a local Costa Rican veterinarian who has provided veterinary assistance to the rescue center for several years. He visits regularly to perform examinations, surgeries, consultations, and emergency procedures. Eduardo also operates a clinic nearby in Cóbano and has years of experience working with local wildlife and exotic species. His reliable presence and familiarity with the animals in our care is an indelible asset to Wild Sun.
Business Project Manager- Heidi Hansen
Heidi moved to Costa Rica several years ago and was inspired to help the native wildlife after seeing the troubles they were facing. Her background in business ownership and management makes her a valuable asset to our team. She uses her business skills to help the center’s different programs succeed and inspire others to become advocates for conservation.
Senior Site Manager- Carmen Atwater
Carmen studied environmental science and biology at the University of North Carolina with a focus on ecology and natural resources. There she was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece, UNC’s oldest and highest honorary society, for her commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation. She has several years of experience working with wildlife in both research and rehabilitation settings in the United States, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. She draws from her experience in wildlife rehabilitation, animal care, field biology, and environmental education to co-manage the rescue center, train volunteers, and coordinate our Conservation Education Internship.
Senior Site Manager- Ezra Mendales
Ezra received his degree in Evolutionary Biology and Conservation from the University of Toronto, specializing in primatology. Before working in Costa Rica, he worked at field stations in Panama and Ecuador as well as at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. His research focuses on South American primate ecology and evolution. Ezra's previous work at primate rescue centers as well as his passion for tropical conservation has brought him to the Wild Sun team. On top of co-managing rescue center operations, he coordinates our Wildlife Biology Internship and is always willing to share his vast knowledge about the species in our care.
Student Veterinarian - Elizabeth Works
Liz graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in biology. While there, she spent several years working with the Cape Romain Loggerhead Nest Recovery Project, a program that sparked her interest in wildlife conservation. Liz is currently in her final year at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where her main focus has been pursuing a career in wildlife veterinary medicine. During her third year of school, she completed a veterinary externship at Wild Sun Rescue Center, where she gained knowledge and experience in the husbandry, care, and rehabilitation of local species. The experience allowed her to combine her love of veterinary medicine with her passion for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Now Liz is coming back this spring to work with us full time!
Consultant- Halley D Buckanoff, CVT, CWR
Halley is the lead veterinary technician at the VHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of the North Carolina Zoo. There she cares for various native wildlife species including bears, otters, squirrels, opossums and many types of local birds. She also manages over 150 volunteers and interns at the center.
Halley holds at BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College. She has over 10 years of experience practicing medicine and husbandry as a certified vet tech for exotic, zoo and local wildlife species.
Halley has previous experience as a field biologist. She holds a permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife commission for banding with which she currently conducts post-release survival studies on common backyard birds.
In addition, Halley teaches certification courses for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council in Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation, Pain and Wound Management, Nutrition and more.