Caribbean Wildlife

Belize

The Caribbean Wildlife project cares for around 200 animals which have been rescued, orphaned or confiscated as pets and brought to the centre as well as a few who have been born at the centre.

Assist keepers with the care of native animals including jaguars, tapirs, howler monkeys and many more tropical species. Help prepare food and enrichments for the rescued animals at the educational visitor centre. Explore the rainforest, coral reefs and beautiful beaches of Belize in your free time.

Volunteers are needed to care for the incredible animals of Central America.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: Near Belize City
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 2 – 4 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £945 / €1105 / $1210 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The Caribbean Wildlife project cares for around 200 native animals which have been rescued, orphaned or confiscated as pets and brought to the centre as well as a few who have been born at the centre.

You will work alongside the keepers and have a unique opportunity to work closely with the 45 incredible native species of Central American wildlife.

The keepers are split into 3 teams. You will rotate teams, each of which focuses on a different group of animals:

  • Cats – jaguar, puma, jaguarundi, ocelot and margay
  • Mammals and other animals – including black howler monkeys, tapir, Yucatan spider monkeys, peccaries, crocodiles, grey foxes, coati and paca
  • Birds – including king vultures, harpy eagles, storks, parrots and owls

Volunteers’ tasks vary depending on the work required each day, but you will assist in:

  • Food preparation (fruit, vegetables and raw meat) and distribution to the enclosures
  • Providing fresh water
  • Cleaning and maintenance of enclosures; collecting leaf litter, washing and scrubbing ponds and feeding bowls
  • Making animal enrichments
  • Caring for newborns or orphan animals (when required)
  • General maintenance of the centre; painting or varnishing fences, signs and railings
  • Helping the team with events (e.g. school groups, animal birthday parties)

If you would like to get involved in educational activities there are often options including:

  • Interactive sessions with visitors with the boa constrictor using correct handling techniques, sharing natural history and conservation information on boas and snakes
  • Accompanying the education department on outreach education visits to local communities

Working days and hours

The exact nature of the work you will be doing varies all the time but generally the day will start at 8.30am and ends around 5pm. Volunteers work 5 days per week and weekends and public holidays are typically your free time.

Other volunteers

There are 1-2 volunteers at the project at any one time with a maximum of 2. You will be working within a larger team of staff.

Volunteer reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Belize Caribbean Wildlife reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

Volunteers make a major contribution to the welfare of animals in Belize. Your time and efforts assisting the keepers allows the highest level of care to be provided to the animals. Your assistance in the education department helps them to inspire passion, in the younger generation especially, to conserve their environment and the wildlife within it.

“Volunteers offer invaluable assistance to our staff in the daily care, enrichment, and socialization of our resident wildlife ensuring animal welfare is a priority. As a small organization with many responsibilities, eager and capable volunteers help to share the workload and ensure that tasks are completed efficiently. This is especially true in the case of juvenile or significantly ill/injured rescued wildlife that require more intensive attention than typical residents.”
Jamal, Head of the Education Department

Location, free time and accommodation

Belize

Belize is a small country on the Caribbean coast nestled between Mexico and Guatemala. It is a relaxed country and a great place to volunteer and explore the beautiful scenery and diverse nature.

With over 60% natural forest cover, and 40% of its land area under protection, Belize is one of the most pristine countries in the world. Popular activities in Belize include:

  • Diving at the Blue Hole
  • Visiting the Maya ruins
  • Exploring the islands (Cayes)

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Belize.

Local area and free time

The project is nestled in a beautiful tropical savanna. Paths wind amongst the enclosures at the centre, giving the feel that you are walking in the wild jungle amongst the animals. It is in quite a rural location, approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Belize City.

You will have weekends off, during this time you are free to relax and explore Belize which has a lot to offer both on the sea and mainland. You can visit the world’s second biggest barrier reef and many islands’ excellent diving, snorkelling, kayaking or relaxing with a good book in a hammock. Caye Caulker is a popular island which is a forty five minute water taxi from the Marine Terminal in Belize City.

There are many great day trips, including cave tubing, zip lines and Altun Ha Maya site. Lamanai site is a full day trip by road and boat and combines Maya archeology, a jungle river trip, great birding, howler monkeys, crocs and manatees.

The Cayo district has much to offer and is 1.5 hours from Belize City. It has many impressive Maya sites, caves with artifacts, waterfalls, jungle, river and horse trips, butterfly farms, botanic gardens, iguana hatcheries and interesting cultures.

If you have more time, Stann Creek district offers both beach and jungle trips and includes Dangriga, Hopkins and Placencia beaches, as well as the Jaguar Preserve with great hiking trails. The Toledo district furthest south is the least visited and most lush district with many interesting cultures.

These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.

Accommodation

You will live in the accommodation at the jungle lodge which is less than a mile or 1.5km from the centre. You will be provided with a bike to travel between the centre and the lodge, it is around a 10 minute ride, or you can choose to walk which will take around 20 minutes. The accommodation is basic but comfortable at the jungle lodge which has 84 acres of nature trials around savannah forest, ponds and woodland and is a great spot for birdwatching or relaxing in the pool.

Volunteers live in shared single sex rooms. The bathrooms are shared and are a short walk from the room. There is a dining area where volunteers eat and socialise together. There is WIFI available.

Read volunteer reviews from the Caribbean Wildlife project

Kyla

“The Caribbean Wildlife Project was the most amazing experience I have had in my life up to this point. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, support group, or leaders. Once I arrived in Belize I was greeted with kindness, the workers went above and beyond to make me feel welcome the entire time I was there. The keepers, made sure I was comfortable yet treated me as if I belonged there, it was an unreal experience.

Helping with the animals was a heart warming feeling, you get to know each of their stories and understand why they are there and why they need our help. I fell in love with so many species and learned so much about so many different animals. Every day was a new adventure and each day was more exciting than the next. My only regret is not staying there longer. I can truthfully say I will be back to do it again.”

Nick

“It was a trip I will not forget. Great for my future and for my personal and professional life. I have taken away much more than I would expect, I couldn’t be happier. I’ll be doing it again soon. My time in Belize and at project was the time of my life! I was able to fulfil a life dream and meet some amazing people along the way. Meeting Sharon was a dream, as she has done and continues to do for so much to conserve the natural world.

I loved my time here. I was here for 4 weeks and was extremely happy about my accommodations and the atmosphere around me. It is a great opportunity to absorb the culture and the importance that Belize plays in conservation. This program drives that home. Worth every penny and I’d do it again and again!”

Kayla

“This was my first time travelling alone, and I don’t think I could have picked a better place to do so! Everyone at the zoo and the TEC were so friendly and inviting. People were always there to help and provide support. They truly care about your wellbeing. One of my favourite parts was getting to learn about the culture and being able to interact with the people on a personal level. You can definitely tell that all of the staff at the zoo genuinely care about these animals which is great to see.

Learning about how each animal ended up at the zoo was so interesting to hear. I was very surprised by the amount of wild animals that had been kept as pets. Getting to be up close to these beautiful animals was amazing. It was such a unique and rewarding experience! Having the weekends off was great as it gave me time to explore Belize. The ATM cave was my favourite, the Mayan Temples, cave tubing, and zip lining were also a lot of fun!”

Cheska

“Travelling to Belize was the start of a mini adventure for me and it lived up to its promise. Everything about the country was different to home - London - the weather, the people, the landscape, the food, the pace of life and it was perfect because of it. The people in Belize are among the friendliest and most helpful I have come across.

Working at the zoo was so fulfilling. I didn’t want it to end. It was hard work, the smiles and the satisfaction at the end of the day make it all worthwhile and the keepers there made our time incredible fun. I will miss them all.”

Read more reviews

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - a dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • In-depth volunteering and planning your trip guides
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Animal care volunteering placement
  • Arrangement of airport pick up (Belize City)
  • Accommodation - a simple shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction
  • T-shirt
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), cost of pick up and transfers. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
2 weeks £945 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £295 GB Pounds
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Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

175+

rescued native animals

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Gemma

Pod UK Specialist

Gemma has visited the project, apply and you'll hear from her soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Belize Caribbean Wildlife volunteer – Katie

    “My trip was absolutely amazing! Volunteering at the zoo was one of the best experiences I've had in my life! I got to meet so many awesome people and work hands-on with amazing Belizean wildlife.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Caribbean Wildlife volunteer – Jacob

    “As someone who hopes to study zoology and work with animals in the future, this was an incredibly rewarding experience that allowed me to get up close and personal with numerous animals native to Belize”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Caribbean Wildlife volunteer – Kim & Trevor

    “Truly the best "vacation" we've ever had. My husband and I had an absolutely amazing time. We spent hours with amazing animals and people! How sad we were when the 2 weeks flew by. We would absolutely go again!”

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal