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Bolivia - Wildlife Conservation Zoo

Volunteer in a unique wildlife conservation program in Bolivia. Be part of the global fight to preserve species from extinction with volunteers from around the world.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectSanta Cruz
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Arrival AirportViru Viru International Airport
Volunteer WorkWork with animals
Number of ParticipantsUp to 5 international volunteers
Age18 - 70

What's Included

AccommodationBolivian home-stay
Food3 meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded on arrival day
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, local transportation, tourist visa (about $135 upon arrival).


Bolivia's awe-inspiring biodiversity makes this the perfect destination for wildlife and ecology enthusiasts. The zoo in Santa Cruz is based on principles of conservation, defense, and study of the Bolivian and South American fauna. It is a quintessential example of Bolivia's diversity.

Santa Cruz is the most populated city in Bolivia but has preserved a small-town feeling and a relaxed tropical atmosphere.  


About the Project

The zoo in Santa Cruz houses a wide variety of native animals and is considered one of the most diverse in South America. It works closely with the Natural History Museum (which belongs to the public University of Santa Cruz) to develop an environmental education program. It also has an education program with volunteers who provide information to visitors regarding how to properly treat the animals as well as basic expectations to avoid accidents and damages to the animals.

Noel Kempff Mercado conceived the idea of building a zoo dedicated exclusively to the conservation of South American fauna back in the 60's. The zoo opened on 19th August 1979 and has now about 500,000 visitors a year.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

As a volunteer, your work in the zoo will involve:

  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Feeding the animals
  • Cleaning cages
  • Learning basic nutrition for each species - the daily portions are prepared based on carefully elaborated diets specific to each species
  • Maintaining the accuracy of posted information signs
  • Maintenance of the zoo grounds such as cleaning animals cages
  • Assisting with veterinary work - a veterinarian examines all new animals to assess their physical condition. Ill animals are also treated on the premises of the zoo
  • You may also be involved in the preparation of educational materials and workshops

Working hours and days: Normally, you will work 4 to 5 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Working hours tend to be from 7:00am to 11:00am.

You should be warned that there is no work during the zurazos (stormy / rainy days). These happen for 2 to 3 days during the rainy seasons in the months of December to February.


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: as part of the volunteering experience, volunteers will stay with a Bolivian family for the whole duration of their stay. Please note that there may be other volunteers staying there as well. It takes about 30 minutes by bus to get to the project from the accommodations.

Food: the family will serve 3 meals a day (not including Sundays) mainly consisting of Bolivian food (vegetables, rice or noodles and/or potatoes, sometimes red meat, chicken or fish). Vegetarians should be fine but it is advised to inform the family on arrival.

Internet: available in town for small fee

Laundry: available with host family


Travel Highlights

Time away from the volunteer project can be spent exploring Santa Cruz's many museums and natural attractions such as the ecological park, Yvaga Guazu, located just outside the city. Weekends are great for exploring nearby rain forests and the Jesuit missions of eastern Santa Cruz.  


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18
  • Good level of English
  • Basic Spanish.  It is recommended to learn as much Spanish as possible before coming in order to make the stay more enjoyable. Classes can be taken for an extra cost.
  • Good physical fitness
  • Motivation to work with animals
  • Full travel & medical insurance
  • Immunizations (please consult your doctor)


Here's an excerpt of Kaitlin's experience:


"Santa Cruz De Le Sierra is an amazing city, there is so much to see and experience and if you get the chance even more places to explore outside of the city. The Zoo was absolutely amazing, there are so many different kinds of animals and I had a ton of hands on experience with the animals. During my time in Bolivia we had baby monkeys, anteaters, and deer who I was more than happy to bottle feed and interact with."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Check out our volunteer blog at www.blog.goeco

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