Costa Rica Wildlife Experience
This rescue center is dedicated to the treatment and protection of exotic animals indigenous to the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica. Working alongside an experienced wildlife vet, volunteers help to rescue, rehabilitate and release these animals back to their natural habitat whenever possible. Volunteers are responsible for basic medical and day-to-day care of the resident animals, including optional nightly rotations for juvenile and nocturnal critters. All medical procedures and treatments are performed under the direction of a qualified veterinarian and all training is provided on arrival. This program was designed to provide hands-on experience in a veterinary setting to those with limited wildlife experience. This is a unique way to learn new skills, explore this Caribbean nation, and an opportunity to make lifelong friendships with other volunteers from around the world.
*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. In addition, there are other volunteers on site working in a variety of capacities.*
The program fee covers transportation, food and accommodation, as well as financial support for the rescue center. Guided tours are available during free time.
Some knowledge of Spanish is recommended as staff members have varying levels of English-speaking ability.
2-week session: $1,000 USD
Additional weeks: $500 USD/week
DepartureEvery Sunday - Year Round
Return TimeAnimal Lovers | Pre-Vet Students | Vet Students | Vet Techs & Nurses | Vets
Dress CodeTraining is provided for all activities. The program fee helps to support the non-profit clinic as well as volunteer activities, transportation and accommodation. Limited to 6 volunteers per session. On-Site free-time activities are included but off-site trips have an additional fee.
IncludedAccommodationAirport TransfersFree-time ActivitiesLaundry FacilitiesMealsOn-Site SupportPre-Departure SupportWi-fi
Not IncludedFlightsTravel InsuranceVisa Fees (if applicable)
Volunteers stay on-site at the rescue center with non-vet volunteers. There are 5 bedrooms (6 bunk beds per room), 5 showers & 7 toilets. 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. Weekday trips to the grocery store (10 min away) are available for snacks or other items.
*This is a non-profit rescue center in a rural location - please expect cozy and rustic accommodations, and limited Wi-Fi signal!*
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- Food Prep (species-specific)
- Routine Feeding and Cleaning (twice daily)
- Daily Treatments (wound management, oral/injectable medications, etc.)
- Intake exams for new animals
- Regular Monitoring (vitals, weight, feed intake, etc.)
- Late Night Feedings* (as needed, optional)
- Diagnostics (blood tests, skin samples, fecal analysis, etc.)
- Discuss & design plans for release and prepare eligible animals
- Enrichment & Training (food puzzles, novel toys & objects, etc.)
- Assist in veterinary procedures (x-rays, sedated exams, surgeries, necropsies, etc.)
Daily Free Activities Include:
- Lounging by the Outdoor Pool & Hammocks
- River Walks
- Board Games
Nightly free time activities include:
- Dance lessons/Karaoke
- Game night
- Guided Night Walks
- Sun Downers
- Visiting San Jose for souvenirs, restaurants, bars, etc.
There is a scheduled weekly trips/tour off site during the busy seasons. Additional off-site trips/locations or trips during quieter seasons (Sept-Nov) can be arranged with assistance of staff (Paula) or coordinators on site upon request. 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...
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!
This experience is for people who love animals enough to get their hands dirty and live in humble conditions. But it’s totally worth it to interact with the vet and the wildlife.
The program is perfect for pre vet or early vet students! I learned a lot of new stuff and the vet was awesome! All in all it was an amazing month and I would definetely recommend it!
I spent 1 Month at the Center and really enjoyed my time. The vet who is Working there is such a Lovely Person. She explained everything, let me do Practical Things and never let me Alone with complicated Tasks. She really wanted me to understand and learn nee Things. I would really recommend the place for an Internship.
The veterinarian was amazing, super knowledgeable and with great energy and willingness to teach (as long as you want to learn)!
An incredible, hands-on wildlife experience! Would highly recommend and would definitely do again!
I definitely got the exotic/wildlife experience I was looking for! Sloths, porcupine, owls, squirrels, possums, parrots, monkeys, toucans, deer, peccaries. Really loved the veterinarian currently working there. She was really enthusiastic about helping us learn. There were foreigners volunteering there which made for extra interesting conversations. Very long days and hard work, but the people I met and animals I worked with made it definitely worth it.