Our wildlife rescue team in Costa Rica helps to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rica’s diverse and beautiful rainforest animals that have been injured, orphaned or mistreated.
You will assist with providing the optimum level of care for animals in the sanctuary and monitoring those animals which will be released back into the wild. Volunteers provide care, food, water and enrichment as well as undertaking maintenance work around the sanctuary. You can also promote conservation and educate local and international visitors about the ecological importance of the rainforest.
Explore the beautiful rainforest surroundings and the popular coastal destination of Manuel Antonio National Park while promoting the wellbeing of the local environment.
Volunteers are needed to help care for animals including monkeys, birds, sloths and anteaters.
The project provides a safe haven for over 50 animals and rescues a number of new animals each week. The hope for these newly rescued animals is that they can be treated in the on-site clinic, and then quickly returned to the wild when they are healthy again. For those animals which are too badly injured or not able to be released for other reasons, they can be provided with a home at the sanctuary.
Each day will differ, and as a volunteer, your core role will focus on assisting in the sanctuary. Tasks include:
Depending on your skills, level of previous experience with animals, and the needs of the project at the time, you may also assist in the nursery, rehabilitation area or clinic. This may include supervising and collecting data on animals who are due to be released.
Volunteers who are there for 4 weeks or more carry out a research project (either of their own choice or they can choose an existing project), and feed this back to the team as a presentation at the end of their placement.
You will volunteer for 6 days per week between 8.30am and 4.30pm. There are breaks throughout the day. Your day off for free time activities will be scheduled on a rotational basis.
There are usually around 1-6 volunteers at one time with a maximum of 15. Volunteers work alongside local staff including animal keepers, biologists and veterinary professionals.
Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Costa Rica Wildlife Rescue reviews.
Volunteers support the ongoing work at the project by providing extra resource to assist the local staff in caring for the animals in the sanctuary. This ensures that all of the animals receive optimum levels of care and can also be provided with enrichment.
Volunteers carry out observations of the animals, both in the sanctuary and with the animals that are part of the release programme. By monitoring their behaviour, vital information regarding which animals are suitable candidates for release can be provided, and ensures those that have gone through soft release are managing to care for themselves successfully. Within the sanctuary these observations can also help to identify animals that may be unwell so that they can receive veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
“Our clinic and sanctuary staff work endlessly to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rica’s diverse and beautiful rainforest animals. Without the help of passionate volunteers interested in protecting Costa Rica’s wildlife we cannot function to our fullest. Our staff is limited; therefore, there are simply not enough hours in the day to care for our precious animals. Hardworking volunteers are what keep our operation running smoothly and efficiently.”
Michelle, Volunteer Coordinator
Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise, with a quarter of the country being made up of protected forest or reserve, it provides a home to over 900 species of bird and 250 species of mammal including the beloved sloth. It’s easy to understand why it’s recently been voted the world’s happiest country! Popular activities in Costa Rica include:
To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Costa Rica.
The project is located in the heart of the tropical forest in the region of Quepos, close to the popular destination of Manual Antonio National Park. The local area is sparsely populated and provides a tranquil environment to live in. It’s great to experience living in the rainforest hearing and seeing the sounds and sights that come with it!
Volunteers have evenings free and can either relax at the centre or arrange a trip into the local town to enjoy the bars and restaurants. Volunteers have one day off per week and there are lots of activities to get involved in, or you could spend your free time by the pool! The local team will be happy to assist you with recommendations and arranging activities which include, snorkelling, diving, catamaran trips, whale watching (seasonal), canopy tours, horse riding, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and much more! These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.
Volunteers live on site and there are two accommodation options; the volunteer house and private cottages.
The volunteer house has shared rooms and bathrooms. There is also a kitchen, living area, a balcony and a TV.
There are three cottages on site and these are a private accommodation option ideal for families, couples and solo travellers who prefer to have their own space. They consist of a bedroom and bathroom and have coffee making facilities and air conditioning. They also have a balcony area with seating. Please note that these are subject to availability and there is a weekly supplement for this option (see fees section for more details).
There are communal areas where all volunteers can relax with WIFI access, and an equipped kitchen and dining area. There is also a swimming pool on site which all volunteers are welcome to use, or you can read a book on one of the sun loungers.
“To say this experience was amazing would be an understatement! I came through a university program and was able to live out my dream job. I got to have hands on experience rescuing and rehabilitating animals to be released, I got to learn all about the animals of Costa Rica, and I got to meet so many kind, funny, and passionate people.
I absolutely would recommend volunteering here to anyone interested in learning more about animal rehabilitation or anyone who is interested in stepping out of their comfort zone for a couple of weeks. I hope I have the opportunity to go back soon!”
“I gained the best work experience I have ever had. While some organizations have volunteer programs that involve a good amount of observing, this program is extremely hands-on. You get the opportunity to experience all aspects of working in an animal rehabilitation center and sanctuary. For example, you gain experience learning what it is like to be an animal caretaker: prepping food, feeding animals, cleaning enclosures, and designing animal enrichment.
Educating people on the importance of conservation is critical and can be very rewarding – something I learned at the project. All in all, this volunteer program is one of the best out there. They are willing to work with you so that you can achieve your dreams, whatever they may be!”
“My husband, sons, and I have visited and volunteered at the Sanctuary five times, and we enjoy it for a few different reasons. We started coming because it is doing life-saving work for the animals, and helping to restore the rain forest, and we wanted to be part of that work. They also provide excellent care for the animals; this is a top priority for us. Our trips are also rich in learning about the animals and the environment, and ways we can all help.
The owners and staff engage our sons and get them involved in the work, which is empowering them to become advocates for the protection and care of all animals, which is important to us as parents. The owners and staff are so warm, friendly, caring, and professional, volunteering there is a very satisfying, meaningful experience for us. We are proud to be part of this organization and look forward to continuing to be involved and support it.”
“This organization, amazes me every time I visit. Whether responding to a middle of the night call to pick up an injured animal or coordinating an educational service experience for a group of college students, the individuals who work there do so with passion, dedication, and ingenuity. I don’t want to think about how many animals would be lost if not for the project.
One of my most memorable experiences was with an anteater named Al. Each day, I’d bring him to a different tree and watch him while he ate ants. When we started, he was timid and only climbed a few feet high….but soon enough he became bolder…until he decided to climb eighty feet high in a cecropia tree…and take a nap. A four hour long nap! I was so worried…but he eventually came down. Many months later, Al was released to the wild and I felt like a proud momma!”
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.
|2 weeks||£1095||GB Pounds|
|Extra weeks (3-8 weeks)||£375||GB Pounds|
|Extra weeks (9-12 weeks)||£300||GB Pounds|
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
* Weekly supplement for the cottage accommodation is £285 - £375 depending on duration
animals released last year
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“My experience was awesome! I expected to fall in love with some animals, but what I didn't predict was how wonderful the people would be. I'll never forget them and the beautiful animals they care for. I hope to return very soon!”Read more volunteer reviews
"I volunteered for a month, it was truly an unforgettable experience. Every day is different, I was always learning something new. I gained a valuable experience by working there, I would recommend everyone to volunteer with them."Read more volunteer reviews
“This was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my life and I know that I will never be able to explain to my family and friends what happened here without getting emotional."Read more volunteer reviews