Caribbean Wildlife

Belize

The Caribbean Wildlife centre team in Belize care for over 150 native animals in Belize which were orphaned, born at the centre, rehabilitated, or sent from other zoological institutions.

You will assist the local team to care for these animals including jaguars, tapirs, howler monkeys and many more species. The project also works hard to educate the local community about the conservation of their local wildlife and habitat and you can support this area of the centre’s work too. Volunteers enable the project to provide the optimum level of care for the animals and provide additional enrichment.

Explore the local area, tropical rainforests, Maya history, coral reefs and beautiful beaches in your free time.

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

Apply

Key Info

key info
  • Location: Near Belize City
  • Start dates: Every Wednesday
  • Duration: 2 – 4 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+
  • Availability: Spaces available, limited December 2017 - January 2018 and June - August 2018.
  • Cost: From £895 / €1045 / $1145 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The Caribbean Wildlife project cares for over 150 native animals which were orphaned, born at the centre, rehabilitated, or sent from other zoological institutions.

Volunteers at the Caribbean Wildlife project assist in the two main foundations of the centre’s work:

  • Animal management
  • Education department

Volunteers should be willing to assist with both the animal management and education department roles as you will be placed where the centre needs most help at the time. Most volunteers get to spend some time of each of the roles.

Animal management

Each day will differ and volunteers are assigned to a keeper at the start of the working day and gain experience in animal husbandry, care, enclosure maintenance and much more. You will have a unique opportunity to work alongside some incredible Central American wildlife. Volunteers assist with:

  • Food preparation
  • Animal husbandry practices
  • Providing fresh, clean water
  • Providing enrichments
  • Animal encounters and animal introductions when they occur
  • Caring for newborns or orphan animals (when required)
  • Maintenance; painting or varnishing fences, signage and railings

There is also the opportunity for volunteers to experience a night tour of the centre and you may also enjoy exciting encounters with a jaguar and harpy eagle.

Education department

Each day will differ and volunteers will be involved in a range of activities which could include:

  • Interactive sessions with visitors with the boa constrictor
  • Carrying out the centre’s interpretive education programme
  • Participating in organising events (such as animal birthdays)
  • Accompanying the education department on outreach education visits to local communities
  • Helping to create lesson plans for educational visits from school children or for school visits
  • Assisting in a weekly reading programme at a primary school split between two communities very near the centre

The centre receives visits from over 15,000 school students each year and there is always a need for passionate and energetic volunteers to help to educate the local community about their native wildlife and how to preserve the environment.

Working days and hours

Generally the day will start at 8.30am and end around 5pm depending on your responsibilities that day. A rota system is followed for the animal management jobs so that the duties are fairly distributed.

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 cayes (offshore islands)

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Belize.

Local area and free time

The project is settled upon 29 acres of tropical savanna, paths wind through the enclosures giving the feel that you are walking in the wild amongst the wildlife. It is in quite a rural location, approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Belize City, allowing you to explore the wonders that Belize has to offer.

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. There are 190 miles of barrier reef and three atolls for excellent diving, snorkelling, fishing, sailing, kayaking or relaxing with a good book on a hammock. Caye Caulker is a forty five minute water taxi from the Marine Terminal in Belize City. Ambergris Caye is 1.5 hours by water taxi and twenty minutes by plane.

There are many great day trips, including cave tubing, zip lines and Altun Ha Maya site. The Museum of Belize and House of Culture in Belize City are both popular too. 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

The Tropical Education Centre (TEC) where you will live is about a mile from the centre and you will be provided with a bike to travel between the two places. Volunteers live in shared dorms at the TEC. The dorms are divided into single sex twin rooms with a shared living space and a screened veranda. Bathrooms are shared and are a short walk from the dorm. There is a dining area where volunteers eat and socialise together. There is WIFI available at the TEC.

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 zoo 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 - Ellie is your 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 £895 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

150+

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

Apply and you'll hear from Gemma 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