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Alajuela Wildlife Rescue Center

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Price Costa Rica 2 weeks+
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Alajuela Wildlife Rescue Center

Costa Rica

Experience the magic of Costa Rica while helping it’s feathered, furry and scaly residents. This wildlife rescue center was founded in 2020 with no government funding amidst a global pandemic, in response to a dire need for local wildlife care. Volunteers stay on-site and spend most of their session in the animal hospital caring for sick and juvenile animals with the full-time vet, but also have an opportunity to assist with husbandry tasks for a wide variety of exotic species in the center. Volunteers have made a huge impact on the center’s design and development- taking ideas and concepts from around the world has allowed the center to provide the best possible care for its residents, and new suggestions are always welcome. It’s important to note that most animals come from government agencies and private citizens who have nowhere else to take them, which can strain the Center’s resources. Every effort is put forth to rehabilitate and release these animals, however some are non-releasable and must become permanent residents.

*Please note that this is a working rescue/rehabilitation center and wildlife hospital- activities and caseload are highly variable and invasive procedures will not be performed on otherwise healthy animals. Therefore, some activities may not be available in every session and some sessions may have a heavier caseload than others.*

This program is geared towards those with limited previous wildlife experience. The program fee covers transportation, food and accommodation, as well as financial support for the rescue center. Guided tours are available during free time.


Cost

2-week session: $900 USD

Additional weeks: $450 USD/week

  • Destination
  • Departure
    Every Sunday
  • Departure Time
    Wildlife
  • Return Time
    Animal Lovers | Pre-Vet Students
  • Dress Code
    Training is provided for all activities. Limited to 6 volunteers per session. On-site free-time activities are included but off-site trips have an additional fee.
  • Included
    Accommodation
    Airport Transfers
    Free-time Activities
    Laundry Facilities
    Meals
    On-Site Support
    Pre-Departure Support
    Wi-fi
  • Not Included
    Flights
    Travel Insurance
    Visa Fees (if applicable)
1
Vet Team Days (4-5 days per week)

6:00am Rise & Shine

6:30am Breakfast 

7:30am Team Meeting

8:00am Get to Work 

  • Weigh & obtain vital parameters on all neonates
  • Food prep & feeding
  • Treatments, exams & enrichment (see “Activities” for details)
  • Clean hospitalized animal cages

12:00pm Lunch & Free Time

1:30pm Afternoon Team Meeting

2:00pm Back to Work 

  • Food prep & feeding
  • Treatments & procedures (see “Activities” for details)
  • Clean hospitalized animal cages

6:00pm Dinner

Night feedings (optional): 9pm, 12am, 3am, 6am

2
Animal Team Days (1-2 days per week)

6:00am Rise & Shine

6:30am Breakfast 

7:30am Team Meeting

8:00am Get to Work 

  • Food prep & feeding
  • Food assessment to determine future diet
  • Enclosure maintenance & safety assessments
  • Species-specific enrichment (see “Activities” for details)

12:00pm Lunch & Free Time

1:30pm Afternoon Team Meeting

2:00pm Back to Work 

  • Food prep & feeding
  • Enclosure maintenance & safety assessments
  • Species-specific enrichment (see “Activities” for details)

6:00pm Dinner

*Volunteers may have the opportunity to help local dogs, cats, cows, horses and sheep based on the needs of the community.


This itinerary is an example of a 2-week session. Weekly activities are planned according to the needs of the rescue center and the community, new opportunities, vet emergencies, and inclement weather.

Arrival and Departure days are every Sunday. Training & Orientation take place on the first Monday of each session.

Free time/tour days may vary but volunteers can expect 1 day off per week.

Tour Location

Volunteers stay on-site at the rescue center. Each room has 2-4 bunk beds and 1 full bathroom (Optional: upgrade to a private tiki hut for an additional $25 USD per night).  Amenities include wifi, laundry service, outdoor pool and lounging areas. Staff stay on-site and are available 24/7 to ensure volunteer safety. All meals are included in the program fee.

9.6
Superb
9.6
Overall Rating

Comments:

  • Valentina T.

    October 8, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    August 2021

    10 / 10

    This was an amazing experience. I recommend taking one of these trips if you’re looking to have a future in the wild life veterinarian field. Staff was incredible and treated me like family. The food was also delicious. Overall I had an incredible time and would definitely return if I had the opportunity.

  • Ashleigh B.

    October 8, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    August 2021

    10 / 10

    This was such an amazing experience. It was so amazing to learn in a working hospital at a rescue center because I got a full understanding and appreciation for what happens. Though I learned I don’t want to work at a rescue center, I learned WHY (I don’t love the routine, but my dear friend I made there loves it) and I think that is so important. The people we so kind, and though I don’t have much Spanish, everyone was willing to work with me and to take the time to show me how to do things. Everybody was willing to answer questions about the care of the animals, and (time allowing) we had a weekly roundtable where we got to discuss a different topic that is important when caring for animals.

    Be willing to work hard, work well, and work late at times. You are expected to act as a vet. If you do so they will appreciate you and give you more trust and responsibilities. Bring rainboots for the rain and a pair of sandals (I used chacos) for the hospital.

    You get one day off a week, where they usually arrange an excursion somewhere in Costa Rica. They are all very fun or relaxing which is nice after lots of work! After you finish your daily work (which includes some work after dinner) the on site coordinators usually have something planned to help everyone bond (movies, dancing, going into town), but if you’re too tired nobody is hurt that you don’t want to/can’t participate!

    10/10 would recommend.

  • Serena L.

    October 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    August 2021

    8 / 10

    This program was a great opportunity to interact with a variety of exotic animals and develop professional and technical skills. Having an intermediate level of Spanish is recommended as the staff do not all have English skills.

  • Kristin S.

    June 6, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Knowing how busy young college students are, I wanted to leave this review on behalf of my daughter. She participated in the Alajuela Vet Experience Internship in May 2021, and it was truly a life-changing confirmation of her dream to pursue a career as a veterinarian. The opportunities to care for animals of all ages were amazing, from contributing to the research process to determine diagnoses to assisting in surgical procedures and providing routine care to the many diverse species at the center. Further, the center management and veterinarians on site were extremely encouraging and committed to answering questions throughout all procedures. My daughter was exposed to scenarios she never before imagined—building her confidence and fortitude.
    As a parent, I can tell you that Global Vet Experience is a fantastic organization. My many questions about travel amid the pandemic were always promptly answered with patience and encouragement, which put our family at ease. Many thanks to Trina in particular for all her guidance.
    Perhaps the best endorsement for this wonderful program is the fact that my daughter is returning for another multi-week trip in six weeks—it is that amazing!

    May 2021

  • Lydiana R.

    February 25, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Went to Costa Rica as a vet student through Global Vet Experience and my experience was unforgettable (!!!). As a volunteer and guest, I can say that the accommodations were great and the food amazing! Putting that aside, the vet team was extraordinary! The entire team at the Center was fully dedicated to the wellbeing and care of the animals. Not only as a vet student volunteer, but as a guest the learning experience was incredible. I 100% recommend the tours given at the site; this way you get to know the animals stories and cool facts about them (plus, I was given an awesome sloth rescue center face mask)!

    January 2021

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Vet/Animal Activities:

Groups are divided into Vet Team (in the hospital) and Animal Team (outside the hospital). While most days are spent on the Vet Team, Animal Team days offer wider access to the 100+ non-hospitalized animals in the center. Animal Team days are also typically less intensive which provide more time for fun & relaxing activities around the center, and occasional opportunities to help local dogs, cats, cows, horses and sheep with limited access to vet care.
Vet Team Days (4-5 days / week)
  • Weigh & obtain vital parameters on neonatal animals
  • Prepare food & medications for hospitalized and juvenile animals
  • Feed & medicate hospitalized animals
  • Clean hospitalized animal cages
  • Treatments, procedures, exams & enrichment*
    • Fecal parasite analysis
    • Dermatological testing & analysis (skin scrapes, impression smears, etc.)
    • Bloodwork (analyzed off-site)
    • Wound management, bandaging, splinting, etc.
    • Subcutaneous/intramuscular/intravenous medications & IV fluids
    • Surgeries / Necropsies
    • Suture practice (on suture pads, bananas, etc.)
    • Juvenile sloth climbing practice
    • Digital imaging (x-rays and/or ultrasounds) - performed on-site by an external technician using portable machines, one day per week AS NEEDED
  • Night Feedings: Newborns require feeding every few hours and nocturnal animals only eat at night, so there is often a rotating nightshift schedule with feedings at 9pm, 12am, 3am, and 6am. These shifts are in addition to the 8-10 hour work days and are OPTIONAL, but reflect a realistic and important part of vet life at the rescue center. Any additional voluntary time spent at the hospital is very much appreciated!
Animal Team Days (1-2 days / week)
  • Food prep & feeding
  • Food assessment to determine future diet
  • Enclosure maintenance & safety assessments
  • Species-specific enrichment*
    • Adding/adjusting climbing & hiding spots
    • Food puzzles
    • Novel toys & objects
    • Frozen treats
*These are examples of activities that have been performed at this center in the past. This is a working rescue/rehabilitation center and wildlife hospital- some treatments and procedures are more common than others, but cases and caseload are highly variable and invasive procedures will not be performed on otherwise healthy animals. Therefore, some activities may not be available in every session and some sessions may have a heavier caseload than others.

Animal Experience: 30-40 hrs/week

Vet Experience:  20-30 hrs/week

Clinical Experience: 10-20 hrs/week

Surgical Experience: 0-5 hrs/week


For the welfare and safety of the animals and staff, some animals are trained to present body parts, accept injections, etc.
All medical treatments and procedures are performed under direct or indirect veterinary supervision. This center currently has 1 full-time vet, an additional part-time vet on the weekends, and a full time biologist who advises on animal nutrition, enclosure design & maintenance, and enrichment. The center also works with several other local wildlife vets and staff are trained to provide day-to-day veterinary care.

Free-Time Activities:

Daily Free Activities Include:

  • Lounging by the Outdoor Pool & Hammocks
  • River Walks
  • Board Games
  • Yoga
  • Zumba

Nightly free time activities include:

  • Bonfires
  • Spanish Classes
  • Sun Downers
  • Movies
  • Trivia
  • Board Games
  • Visiting local town for souvenirs, restaurants, bars, etc.

Off-site trips can be arranged by coordinators on site.  There will be additional costs associated with transportation and entrance fees.  Popular destinations include:

  • Jaco Beach
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Arenal Volcano
  • And more!
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Please submit an application for this program below. Our team will contact you with more information within 72 hours- if you don’t hear from us, please check your spam folder!

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