Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica
Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica is an experience that provides knowledge on the management of wild animals of the Neotropic. If you are looking to work with wild animals, in NATUWA, you can have the opportunity to learn about ethology and management of animal species such as jaguars (Panthera onca), sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni), macaws (Ara macao and Ara ambiguus), tapirs (Tapirus bairdii), anteaters (Tamandua mexicana) and more.
The custody of animals and the environment care that NATUWA develops requires people with a high standard of commitment and cooperation.
You can perform numerous and diverse functions to improve animals’ life, so you are not required to have specific knowledge about animals. But willing to understand how to manage wildlife appropriately in a Wildlife Sanctuary.
All activities will always carry out under the company and the guidance of the organization’s staff.
Learn how to manage wildlife while volunteering
The opportunity to volunteer in Costa Rica with wildlife, offered by NATUWA, does not promote the domestication of wild animals. Our primary goal is to raise awareness among people about NOT REMOVING organisms from the ecosystem to be used as pets. Besides, assist animals if they require it, without interfering with their natural behaviors and processes.
Therefore, if you intend to touch animals for fun, kiss them, hug them, or talk to them. So, we recommend you find another project. Otherwise, if you want to give your precious time and learn about these beautiful creatures helping the team to manage them, NATUWA is your project.
NATUWA’s COVID-19 Protocols
Due to the current risks associated with COVID-19, NATUWA has established protocols to keep volunteers, staff and visitors safe, so that NATUWA can continue to serve its mission and care for the animals during this difficult time. If you are interested in participating in the wildlife conservation program, please carefully read the following protocols. You must adhere to and comply with the following requirements.
Preparations before arrival
Negative COVID-19 PCR test result:
- You must get a COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hrs of your planned arrival at NATUWA. Your test result must be negative. A rapid test or other test type will not qualify.
- Upon arrival, please have your test result ready to show.
- If you cannot provide documented proof of your negative test result from a test within 48 hrs of arrival, you will be asked to return once you can meet this requirement.
- You must have insurance to cover you in case of an accident and COVID-19 hospitalization.
NATUWA authorized transportation for arrival:
- If you sign up directly with NATUWA, you must use the transportation provided by NATUWA to pick you up from the airport and bring you directly to NATUWA.
- If you are already in a wildlife program in Costa Rica, please provide a contact at that program, so your arrival can be coordinated.
- Do not use public or private vehicles.
Wearing Your Mask:
- You have to wear a mask during your transit from your country or current program until you arrive at NATUWA.
- Bring hand sanitizer to use throughout the duration of your stay at NATUWA.
Once you are in NATUWA
Show Proof of Negative PCR Test Result:
- You must show your proof of a negative COVID test result upon your arrival.
- You will be asked to take a shower as soon as you arrive. Once you have done so, you will be given the remainder of your orientation.
Four day Quarantine upon arrival:
- Volunteers arriving on the same day will be housed in the same room for 4 days. Afterwards, they will room with other current volunteers.
- Quarantined volunteers are expected to eat at a separate table from current volunteers who have completed their quarantine.
Follow day-to-day on-site COVID protocols
- You must wear your mask at all times during your transit in NATUWA.
- Volunteers are allowed to go to the supermarket as long as they notify NATUWA staff and wear a mask the entire time.
- During your participation of our volunteer program, you are not allowed to travel on your own. However, NATUWA will organize trips for volunteers to places that are allowed by the Costa Rican government.
- Volunteers are responsible for covering the costs associated with trips outside of NATUWA. These costs include food, transportation, etc.
Volunteers who choose not to follow our protocols will be asked to leave the program.
Wildlife Rescue Team
Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary
Wildlife volunteers who come to NATUWA join our team to help put together a daily routine about caring for the animals. The performance includes feeding monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, macaws, sloths, and many more. In addition, participate in the animal rehabilitation and rescue process.
Carry out maintenance work in enclosures and environmental enrichment activities to provide well-being to the animals we permanently house in the compartments.
Tasks are carried out under the direction of a veterinarian, biologist, the center director, and professional NATUWA staff’s operation.
It is an excellent opportunity for the volunteer to learn to manage wild animals avoiding accidents that endanger the physical integrity of the animals and the people who care for them, and, of course, conservation.
Volunteer typical day
This volunteer project is quite different from other Wildlife Santuaries around Costa Rica. We never have a shortage of work! And have over 500 animals that need daily care. If you are lack motivation or passion for animal care and conservation, this may not be the project for you (¡and that’s ok!). Our daily schedule can be intense, but the work here is delightful!
The sanctuary is continuously operating to improve the lives of the jaguars, tapirs, sloths, macaws, and many more Costa Ricas wild animals. Volunteers will participate in activities such as:
- Animal feeding.
- Cleaning enclosures.
- Assisting animals in case of emergency.
- Participate in efforts to rehabilitate and release animals.
- Planting trees.
- Assisting in giving tours of the sanctuary.
- Maintenance of animal enclosures and property.
- Constructing organic structures for the animals.
- Participate in the environmental enrichment of all types of animals.
- Agricultural production (for volunteers and animals).
- Cleaning under animal feeding stations.
- Providing water to animals.
- Washing enclosure floors.
- Sanctuary maintenance.
- Feeding baby animals.
- Providing fresh-cut grass to our herbivores.
- And anything else that needs to be done!
Volunteer daily schedule.
6:00am-8:00am – Morning feeding of animals with supervision after an introduction period (minimum 3 days).
8:00am-8:15am – Breakfast!
8:15am-10:30am – Daily tasks (see list below)
10:30am-10:45am – Juice break!
10:45am-12:00md – Daily tasks (see list below)
12:00md-1:00pm – Lunch, WiFi, and nap time!
1:00pm-3:00pm -Afternoon feeding of animals with light supervision after an introduction period (minimum 3 days).
After the afternoon feeding, volunteers are free to do whatever they would like for the rest of the day! Dinner is ready by 5:00pm.
Maintenance of animal enclosures and property
Assisting in giving tours of the sanctuary
Environmental enrichment for animals
Volunteer with sloths in Costa Rica
Characteristics of sloths
One of the most emblematic creatures of the tropics in Costa Rica is the sloths. These charismatic animals with dense hair live in the forest, immersed in the vegetation, sometimes they are confused with mounds of termites or imitate the environment very well, which makes it very difficult to spot them.
In Costa Rica, there are two species of sloths; a kind is of daytime habits, the three-fingered sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) while the other, the two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanny) prefers to be active during the quiet of the night.
The roads go through the natural habitat of the sloths; often, they are trying to understand this big asphalt mace in the middle of their house, their forest. Many are injured, others orphaned due to different reasons (dog attacks, road raids, destruction of its habitat), where the human being is always responsible.
Costa rica animal rescue center
The volunteer with sloths in Costa Rica plays an essential role in the rehabilitation of these beautiful creatures, improve their health requires many hours of work. Both day and night so that the sloths can return to their natural habitat. At NATUWA, volunteers learn everything about the management and care of the charismatic sloths.
Caring of the baby sloths
Caring for animals is an activity full of difficulties that involve a lot of commitment and responsibility. But even more significant is the challenge to take care of baby sloths that still can not feed themselves. They are helpless creatures without the mother, depending highly on the human assist to survive.
Unfortunately, many baby animals are removed from the ecosystem by people most of the time because they want an “adorable” pet.
The fauna is taken out of Costa Rica by the illegal pet trade and sold locally too. To this is added, the offspring of mothers who have had fatal accidents when they are crossing the road, dead in power lines, or by dogs attack. And miraculously, the baby survives, normally baby sloths, anteaters, and opossums, and more. Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica with these orphans animals can offer you a unique chance to help these fragile creatures in a rescue center.
Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary
So, for these baby sloths and other orphans, the only chance of life is the one they find in the animal refuge center. Free from violent death, in appalling conditions of starvation or desiccation, a death full of agony.
Thanks to the work we carried out at NATUWA, together with the Volunteers, the Fire Department, the Public Force, and the National Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE). We prevent these animals from suffering, and at the same time, we offer them the opportunity to return once again to their life in the trees thanks to the NATUWA Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary.
Each wildlife volunteer has a huge impact on the lives of the animals. Because, with your help We can guarantee quality of life to the animals through activities of environmental enrichment, proper feeding, surveillance and general care. Together, we can improve the lives of animals in captivity and focus our attention on our rehabilitation and release efforts.
NATUWA is a wildlife volunteering opportunity where you can help and learn about how to conserve amazing creatures and their importance to the ecosystem.
At NATUWA, we are all animal lovers. And we know for a fact that many wild animals require our help. But, without interfering with the interactions they have with their natural environment, their ecology. However, being an animal lover comes with a lot of responsibility and comminment. It is our responsibility to direct our love in a positive manner. Loving an animal does not mean hugging, touching, or showing “affection” to an animal, but rather having scientific knowledge of how to care for an animal in a way that will allow it to succeed in nature.
Come to NATUWA and learn with us to be a real Wildlife Volunteer. In few words, to learn to coexist in harmony with the environment that surrounds us.
Volunteering at NATUWA is a wonderful and unique experience that is perfect for people of all ages and all backgrounds. Volunteers will be able to positively impact the animals of the sanctuary, learn and practice Spanish, meet new people from all over the world and experience a different culture.
- No smoking inside or outside of NATUWA´s property.
- In order not to tame the animals, do not talk to them.
- Do not feed the animals (outside feeding time).
- When taking pictures, the use of flash is prohibited.
- The use of any type of ilegal drug is prohibited.
- Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
- Be respectful of the staff of the sanctuary (sexual harassment, racism, homophobia or xenophobia will not be tolerated).
- Do not allow strangers (outsiders) to enter the sanctuary.
- Follow the safety rules according to the activity (gloves, helmet, eyeglasses, boots, pants).
- Do not carry any electronic device during working time (Cell phones and camaras).
- Insect repellents containing DEET are strictly prohibited.
Price of our wildlife volunteer program
- From $42/night.
- Transportation from Airport Juan Santamaría $100/one way.
There is a place where you can wash your clothes, however we offer laundry service at very low cost, up to 5 kg of clothes the cost is $3, and for each extra kg 1$ more.
Donations (Amazon wish list)
There are a few items that would help the animals that are difficult to purchase in Costa Rica. These items are on the list of our Amazon wish-list. Items most accessible to carry in luggage are Harrison’s Organic Juvenile Bird Formula and the Meyenburg’s goat milk powder. Volunteers are encouraged to bring these items to help the animals!
What to bring?
- Rubber boots.
- *Natural repellent (without DEET).
- Mosquito net.
- *Long pants (working pants).
- Clothing that dries quickly.
- Shower sandals.
- Quick drying towel.
- Beach items.
- Many pairs of socks.
- Reusable water bottle.
- Topical medicine for allergies.
- Allergy pills.
- Thin bed sheets (one pair is provided).
- Long sleeves.
- Rain jacket.
- Work gloves.
- WiFi access.
- Accommodation type: Dorm Room.
- All meals are provided for volunteers. Vegetarian options will be provided upon request.
- Everyday training in wildlife management.
- Information on travel within Costa Rica. And support in reservations and transfer.
Food & Drink
Food & Drink Details
The meals are typical dishes of Costa Rica. Almost every meal includes rice, beans, or salad. Juice or coffee is offered for every meal. It is very important that you inform us if you have any special diets or food allergies.
Example Breakfast Meals: (8:00am)
1. “Gallo pinto” with: egg, plantain, or sausage.
3. Fruits (watermelon, banana, and papaya).
Example Lunch Meals: (12:00md)
1. Rice and beans with a meat.
2. Rice and beans with spaghetti.
3. Meat and vegetable soup with rice.
Example Dinner Meals: (6:00pm to 7:20pm)
1. Rice and beans with a meat.
3. Cold cut sandwich.
Accommodation Types: Dorm Room
Currently, volunteer housing is in two separate buildings. One building is a typical Costa Rica country style house with one room, including bunk beds, three fans, storage space, and windows. Only for long-term volunteers (4 weeks or more).
The second building is a modified shipping container with three rooms. Each room of the container includes two bunk beds, a fan, and storage space for personal items for four people maximum. It is advised for volunteers to bring their mosquito nets. Volunteers must keep their areas free of plastic litter and respect the property of others.
The location of the bathrooms and showers are in a separate building adjacent out of the rooms. No hot water is available for the showers.
There is an area to do the laundry by using a machine and for drying on clotheslines.
WiFi is currently available in volunteer housing.
How to get to NATUWA from the airport?
Participants of the Natuwa Volunteer Program are required to be transferred from the Airport directly to NATUWA by the transportation we provide. NATUWA will not accept anyone coming by public bus or any other transportation service. The cost is $100 USD.
If you are already in Costa Rica, you can coordinate your admission to our volunteer program at this cell phone number +506 86444666.
Best season to be a Wildlife volunteer
Costa Rica has two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is from May to November, which brings rain almost every day, but at the same time highlights the lush green landscape of Costa Rica. During these months, the weather is cooler, making it easier to work in.
The dry season is from November to May, during this time there is a lot of sunlight and a beutifull blue skye. The landscape is covered with fruits, such as mangos and beautiful flowers multicolor!. NATUWA is located in the dry forest where it is very hot, especially during the dry season.
Then, you decide on what season of the year you will do your wildlife volunteer work in Costa Rica.
How to travel to NATUWA ?
Public busses run everyday (except Sunday) to and from the sanctuary for the volunteers. At 6:00 am the public bus arrives in front of the sanctuary to transport people to the town of Puntarenas where there is a bus station with busses to travel around Costa Rica. The bus leaves from Puntarenas to Aranjuez at 11:30 am, arriving to the sanctuary around 1:00 pm. The price of the public bus is about 1 mil colones (equal to about $2).
A taxi service can be requested to bring volunteers to the sanctuary. From Puntarenas to the sanctuary, volunteers can expect to pay about $35. From the Juan Santamaria Airport to NATUWA the cost is $115.
Places to visit near NATUWA and Free-time activities
Every week, volunteers will receive a day off to be able to relax and explore surrounding areas. The staff of the sanctuary can help organize places to visit. Options include the beach, local river, Puntarenas, Monteverde (two days), Volcano Arenal and others.
Public buses run every day (except Sunday) to and from the Sanctuary to Puntarenas. At 6:00am a public bus arrives in front of the Sanctuary to transport people to the town of Puntarenas where there is a bus station with buses to travel around Costa Rica. The bus leaves from Puntarenas to Aranjuez at 11:30am, arriving at the sanctuary around 1:00pm. The price of the public bus is 1,000 colons (about $2).
A taxi service can be requested to bring volunteers to the sanctuary. From Puntarenas to the sanctuary, volunteers can expect to pay about $35 for a taxi, and about $80 from the airport (Alajuela) to NATUWA.
Every Sunday, the feeding of the animals is the only task of the day, for which there is more time, to enjoy the beautiful Sanctuary. After feeding, we usually visit the city of Esparza, only 30min from NATUWA. To eat pizza !!!, each participant pays the trip with a cost of $ 7 approximately and everyone pays what they consume.
Interested in volunteering with us?
Fill out the form
To start your registration process at NATUWA Sanctuary, fill out the registration form to book your space with our team of wildlife volunteers (We have a limit space volunteers). The information you will provide us is confidential, and it will be analyzed to accept you in our program. We will contact you as soon as possible. ¡Many thanks!