Costa Rica - Animal Rescue and Conservation
Costa Rica has more than 8,500 species of plants, 220 species of reptiles, 160 amphibians, 205 species of mammals, and 850 species of birds. Volunteers here play an important role in the conservation of Costa Rica's incredible biodiversity and have responsibilities that are vital to the success of the wildlife rescue centers.
|Location of Project||2 options - San Carlos, Alajuela Province & Moin on the Caribbean coast|
|Project Length||Min 3 weeks: 1 week orientation/Spanish course + 2 weeks at the rescue center|
|Arrival Airport||Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)|
|Volunteer Work||Preparing food and caring for the animals, cleaning cages and trails, and general maintenance|
|Number of Participants||8 - 10 international volunteers|
|Age||18 - 80|
|Accommodation||San Carlos: home-stay; Moin: shared rooms in cabins|
|Food||2 meals a day during Spanish course and 3 meals a day during project|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support|
|Airport Transfers||Included on arrival and departure in San Jose|
|Orientation||Cultural immersion and Spanish lessons in San Jose|
|Pre-Departure Kit||Full project details will be sent following registration|
|Insurance||Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage|
What's Not Included
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its proportionally huge amount of biodiversity. Costa Rica may contain as much as 5% of the worlds plant & animal species - this in a country that is only as large as the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Costa Rica is Spanish for rich coast. As such, one can expect to find this place to be the ideal tropical paradise with bewilderingly diverse landscapes, flora, and fauna. From rainforests, to dry tropical and temperate forests, to volcanos, to Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains, and marshy lowlands, this country has it all.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
About the Project
Despite being a small country, Costa Rica has a great natural wealth. However, habitat destruction from deforestation, poaching, indiscriminate use of pesticides, the illegal pet trade, and the lack of wildlife protection have caused a decline in the populations of many species to levels that threaten their survival. This work is organized through the Costa Rican government National Park Association, as well as with private conservation organizations. Work involves participation in conservation programs, maintenance of the park facilities, attention to park visitors and any other specific activities or projects that the park develops during the year.
La Marina Foundation Wildlife Rescue Center:
Located in San Carlos, Alajuela province, the La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center is a privately funded organization. Injured and displaced animals are brought to the center from all over the country by Costa Rican officials. Many are able to be nursed back to health and re-released back into their natural habitat when rehabilitated.
Tapirs, spider monkeys, green macaws, scarlet macaws, and different types of felines are just some of the animals that are rehabilitated and bred here.
Paradero Animal Rescue Center:
Volunteer Work and Contribution
Volunteer tasks vary according to demand and necessity. Its important that you come with a high spirit, a lot of motivation, and flexibility to cope with unexpected changes. The La Marina Foundation Wildlife Rescue Center carries out a series of programs that complement each other and altogether contribute to the conservation effort. Since the project survives on donations, the center also functions as a zoo, allowing visitors to contribute additional funding. The majority of your duties will be:
- Prepare food for the animals
- Clean enclosures
- Provide maintenance to the infrastructure
- Maintain trails
- Provide information to visitors
The work schedule is from Monday to Friday from 7:30 am or 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Accommodation and Food
Accommodations: while working in their project, volunteers stay with a host family (San Carlos project) or in volunteer cabins that house 4-10 volunteers (Moin project). Facilities are basic; rooms, showers and bathrooms are clean and provide a comfortable stay. Volunteers will share their room with other volunteers or park officials. In Moin, The volunteer houses are located within walking distance from the center, and in San Carlos it is a 20-minute bus ride.
Food: three meals a day are included with the project. The food follows the daily Costa Rican diet which consists of rice, beans, pasta, red meat, vegetables and many kinds of fruit. In general terms, meals at the projects are very simple. Vegetarian meals are also available.
Laundry: in La Marina (San Carlos project), host family takes care of the laundry. In Moin, there is a washing machine.
First Week Orientation and Spanish Courses
The first week of the minimum three-week program takes place in San Jose. It consists of cultural enrichments and Spanish courses that facilitate acclimation into the Costa Rican culture before the volunteer leaves to begin the project itself. The courses include Spanish grammar rules, emphasis on pronunciation for increased ease of conversation, and allows plenty of practice time for verbal and written Spanish. The goal of this program is to provide the student with basic language skills and functional fluency. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory as it acts as an important stepping stone for the volunteer before traveling into the rural areas where the reserve is. (If the participant speaks fluent Spanish before coming on the project an exception may be made to waive the orientation, though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.)
The first Monday, at 8am, volunteers are asked to take a Spanish test in order to gauge their fluency level and correctly place them into appropriate classes.
Here is an example of an orientation week schedule:
9-12pm Spanish classes
12-1pm Lunch break
1-3pm Spanish classes
3-5pm (Monday-Friday) Dance classes
4-5pm (Wednesday) Costa Rican cooking classes
4-5pm (Tuesday & Thursdays) Additional Conversation classes
- Minimum age 18 +
- Minimum 3 weeks stay: 1 week orientation/Spanish course + 2 weeks at wildlife project
- Minimum of basic conversational Spanish
- Able to cope with remote and basic conditions
- Full travel & medical insurance
- Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
- Most rangers and other Costa Rican personnel at the site do not speak English (conversational Spanish is required).
- Work lasts at least 4 hours during the day: cleaning the trails and the facilities of the project, helping at the kitchen, and any other special activity assigned.
- The facilities are basic; the reserve is isolated and there is not constant contact with the "outside world."
- As it is a jungle environment, there are lots of mosquitoes other insects.
- Sunny, hot, and humid weather.
- There will be plenty of leisure time, so bringing books and table games is recommended.
- During the rainy season from May to November, there are fewer opportunities to work during the day.
Here's an excerpt of Jennifer's experience: