Costa Rica Animal Rescue

From £689, 2 weeks, Costa Rica Trip code: CRAR

  • Adventure 2 out of 5
  • Relaxation 3 out of 5
  • Culture 3 out of 5
Costa Rica Animal RescueCosta Rica Animal RescueCosta Rica Animal Rescue

Trip Highlights

  • Feeding and caring for vulnerable animals
  • Experience working with wildcats such as cougars, jaguars or ocelots
  • Enrich your knowledge and your expertise on wild animals
  • Do all of this in the beautiful area of Alajuela

Trip Summary

See full itinerary

In Costa Rica, ecotourism is a growing and fundamental part of the country's economy. Many people in Costa Rica illegally keep wild animals as pets, such as parrots & reptiles.  The main objective of the Animal Rescue Centre is to take care of wild animals that have been kept captive, making sure they recover in a safe environment, and eventually taking them back to their natural habitat. 


Working alongside the staff, you will help look after the animals and educate visitors.  Whilst at the centre, animals that you may experience working with include; wildcats such as cougars, jaguars or ocelots and birds like scarlet macaws, keel-billed toucans & parrots.

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What will I be doing?

  • The Wildlife centre (From 2 weeks)

  • Your volunteer role (From 2 weeks)

The Wildlife centre: From 2 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Costa Rica is probably one of central America's most popular destinations and, with attractions that appeal to all tastes, it is easy to see why.  Costa Rica's national parks are its greatest glory, resulting from a desire to conserve the outstanding natural beauty and encouragement of eco-tourism. These parks contain some of the best campsites in the world. The country has a stunning variety of landscapes, microclimates and flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers.

This programme is based in the picturesque Alajuela Province of central Costa Rica. This province lies 30 miles north of the capital San José and 28 miles inland from the beautiful central Pacific beaches.  This makes it a great base for exploring some of Costa Rica’s highlights during your free time.

  • Location: Alajuela

The Wildlife Rescue Centre is home to approximately 400 animals housed in enclosures and over 100 animals free to roam the 27 acre (11 hectares) property. There are more than 80 species of animals found here which include: spider monkeys, tapirs, green macaws, scarlet macaws, toucans, various reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, etc.) and different types of felines or big cats.


The centre has six main programmes:


Breeding: The aim is to return the offspring of rescued animals to their natural habitat.


Liberation: Animals born in the centre that show they have the necessary characteristics for surviving in the wild are then entered into a rigorous programme were they are taught how to obtain food and survive on their own.


Re-introduction: Animals that enter the centre are placed in quarantine, rehabilitated, and if they are fit, released into protected areas.


Rescue: Many animals threatened by humans have been rescued and the centre has prevented and denounced harmful activities such as illegal deforestation and hunting.


Conservation: Animals with no hope of returning to their natural habitats receive daily care, feeding and affection.


The centre receives no funds from the government, and therefore depends only on private funds and donations. Limited by a tight budget, the centre has been working hard to improve the conditions of the animals little by little.


You will play a very important role helping to take care of the animals, feeding them, cleaning cages, other infrastructure maintenance, and guiding tourists who visit the centre. 


In 2006, the rescue centre was a winner of the Ford/Jaguar Cars International Conservation Award established by the Jaguar Conservation Trust, a grass roots programme dedicated to providing grants and funding for projects that promote the preservation of the company's namesake and its habitat. It also has an environmental education programme to promote awareness among local citizens.

Your volunteer role: From 2 weeks

Destination info

Costa Rica is probably one of central America's most popular destinations and, with attractions that appeal to all tastes, it is easy to see why.  Costa Rica's national parks are its greatest glory, resulting from a desire to conserve the outstanding natural beauty and encouragement of eco-tourism. These parks contain some of the best campsites in the world. The country has a stunning variety of landscapes, microclimates and flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers.

This programme is based in the picturesque Alajuela Province of central Costa Rica. This province lies 30 miles north of the capital San José and 28 miles inland from the beautiful central Pacific beaches.  This makes it a great base for exploring some of Costa Rica’s highlights during your free time.

  • Location: Alajuela

Working alongside the staff, you will help look after some of the most well-known Central American animals and educate visitors.

At the centre you will be able to experience working with wildcats such as cougars, jaguars or ocelots; birds like scarlet macaws, keel-billed toucans, parrots, and many other animals. Your experience here will enrich your knowledge and your expertise on wild animals.  Activities include:


  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Feeding the animals
  • Cleaning cages
  • Building and repairing enclosures
  • Building and repairing feeding platforms
  • Cleaning and bathing animals

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What's included?

  • Accommodation with family nearby
  • All meals breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • A detailed orientation on arrival
  • An airport pick up in SJO
  • Transportation to the project from Alajuela
  • 24 hour emergency help
  • Tour advice in Costa Rica

What's not included?

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Extra activities
  • Alcoholic beverages/extra snacks
  • Local transport
  • Personal expenditure

Additional Information & FAQs

Minimum age

The minimum age to participate is 18 years and there is no maximum age.



Volunteers stay with local families, in a semi private room (two sharing) and shared bathroom. The host families are members of the nearby community less than 3km away from the rescue centre.



Included in the programme are three daily meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. These will be provided by the host families. The meals are based on a Costa Rican diet, food is fairly basic, includes rice, beans, corn, meat, pasta, vegetables and seasonal fruits.



Your orientation will be held in Alajuela on the first Monday of your stay, you will be collected from your accommodation at around 12:30pm and taken to the offices of our in-country team. 


During the orientation you will be given a welcome pack containing lots of useful information regarding your programme.

Your orientation will cover:


  • Local culture – social norms, traditions and culture
  • Expected behaviour - safety whilst on the programme
  • Safety - areas and places to avoid, what to do in an emergency
  • Locations of important amenities - banks, hospitals, embassies 



Advice & Safety

Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.


You will be assigned a personal travel advisor who will co-ordinate your programme with you. Feel free to contact them at any time before you go, or when you are on your travels.


In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our UK staff at any time should you need to.


What will I see in Costa Rica?

16 photos

What other travellers thought

I've done this trip

Write review

Katie Andrews - August 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Once in a lifetime experience, definitely going back some day!

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
Please rate your in-country orientation
What were the highlights of your trip?

My highlights were as you could probably imagine working with the animals! The centre has such a range from tapirs, jaguars and spider monkeys and so many more! Everyone at the centre was very friendly and made my experience as good as it was! The other volunteers where fantastic and I made some good friends (they came independently rather than just through realgap so there may be more people there than those just on your buddy list!). And finally (which me and my friend enjoyed the most apart from the animals) was staying with out host family. The family were so friendly and helpful to us, made us feel at home quickly and made the best food! We both got our own room and toilet to share and was much better than we they had wifi so we could keep in touch with home.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

1) Speak good Spanish! My friend and I came to Costa Rica knowing barely any Spanish which made some tasks such as communication with the staff at the animal centre, and catching buses and making our way around. Plus some of the host families only speak very very basic English! We did pick up a lot though during our stay! 2) Bring plenty of money! We were told we wouldn't need much of the local costa rican currency and that most places accepted dollars....which is not true! Depending on where you stay in the area you will probably have to get a bus to and from the project every day which can cost up to 700 colones. Plus any extra activities and food you want to do out there will also be in colones. I brought 30,000 for the 2 weeks and that only just lasted me! 3) Lots of bug spray! I got bitten SO much despite butting bug spray on, as you sweat so much and through the rain the repellent can off so you do end up with some bites. You can easily go through a bottle of repellent very quickly, so don't be left short and bring a few bottles just in case!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Everything was good! I stayed at the project for 2 weeks to then go on travelling after and the only thing I would have changed would have been to stay longer at the animal centre!

Any other comments?

Go There With A Positive Attitude! The Centre Doesn't Have Much Money So Some Of The Enclosures Might Not Be What You Would Expect, But The People Who Run It Put All There Money Into Their Centre And Have A Real Passion For What They Are Doing. Everyone Is Friendly So If Your Worried That Your Going Alone Don't Be! You Won't Be The Only One! Plus You'll Be Eating A Lot Of Rice And Beans But Otherwise The Food Is Great! There Wasn't One Meal Out There We Ate That We Didn't Like! A Really Great Trip But Do Your Research First!

Would you travel with our company again?


Would you recommend us?


Olivia Zechalko - October 2011

How would you rate your overall experience?
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
What were the highlights of your trip?

Staying with the host family, working at the animal rescue centre

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

1. Bring clothes that you are prepared to throw away afterwards 2. There are wellington boots already there so you don't have to bring your own as I thought you had to 3. Learn some Spanish

Would you travel with our company again?


Would you recommend us?



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