The iconic image of the El Tigre blaze was the evacuation of the Rio Negrito Refuge, a rehabilitation center for endangered and vulnerable animals run by the International Wildlife Organization. As the flames bore down in the refuge, and the government pulled its firefighters back rather than attempting a firebreak, local volunteers worked frantically the evacuate the animals after most of the international staff deserted or were evacuated.

The image of Carmen Martinez y Garcia, tears visibly streaming down her face, evacuating a three-toed sloth in a saucepan as an apocalyptic column of flame and smoke rose behind them instantly became iconic. While 60% of the animals at the refuge were successfully evacuated, the remainder perished in the flames along with two volunteers, one of whom was Ms. Martinez. In the aftermath, the IWO and the newly-elected right-wing government both blamed each other for the debacle, with the IWO closing all its refuges while the government seized and nationalized those belonging to other organizations or independent entities. One bright spot was the saucepan sloth itself, a pregnant female soon nicknamed Saucy, who was taken in by the San Juan Zoological Gardens in Costa Rica and added to their breeding program.

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