Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center

The Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center is a non-profit organization that gives animals a second chance at life. Our dedicated staff and selfless volunteers work tirelessly to help these animals heal, keep them safe, rehabilitate them, and eventually re-release them into their natural habitat in the Costa Rican rainforest.

Volunteer Field Reports

Carley Morris, USA, August 2015

As someone who is full of wanderlust and a passion for working with animals, you can imagine how incredible it was to have the opportunity to volunteer at The Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. I spent two weeks volunteering, and although prior to arriving that amount of time had seemed good, it was definitely unbearable to leave in the end!

I have loved sloths for years now, and I distinctly remember how amazing volunteer Linah let me hold baby sloth Jocean, and I had not even been there for an hour! Each animal at the center is clearly loved and cared for, and it was truly amazing seeing all of these people from every corner of the world come together with a common passion for helping others. Every volunteer was so dedicated to helping the center, whether it was making toys for the animals, babysitting, or even sweeping and raking the center’s common areas! Volunteering here has been the most amazing experience of my life, and I would give anything to go back.

The second I set foot on Costa Rican land, I was greeted by Max, the kind and generous taxi driver, whom I had a tearful goodbye with when I left! The volunteers are all so friendly and I felt like I had instantly made a group of amazing friends, and everyone treated each other with a sort of respect and genuine kindness that can be hard to find in today’s world. I still remember one day when I spent several hours playing with the Howler monkeys, and how when I tried to leave, they didn’t want to let me out of the cage!

It was abundantly clear to me from the beginning that this center is where it is today because of incredible people like Bernal, Sarita, Marielos, and so many more. They all clearly care about helping the animals, and it was heartbreaking to hear some of the history of both the center itself and of the animals, because I had instantly grown to think of the center, the animals, and the people as a sort of home in my heart.

No matter how long you go, who you’re with, and whatever sort of financial situation you’re currently in, this center will open your eyes to an entire eden of love and compassion as well as give you the opportunity to make binding friendships with animals and humans alike. Volunteering here, especially, is a unique and supreme experience because no matter what chore you’re doing or how you’re feeling, you automatically have this fun sense of happiness and peace, which is so rare in so many places.

If somebody were to ask me, a year or even fifty years from now, what my most memorable experience has been, hands down I would say volunteering at The Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center without any trace of doubt. This experience has left me an improved human being with so many new friendships and stories to tell, like the time Kevin the Emu and I had a race to see who could grab my clothes off of the line first!

Maja Štigler, USA, July 2013

The lookout for dangerous insects, reptiles and amphibians definitely kept me on my toes and my senses sharpened. 

Even the first time handling a primate was a little nerve-wracking, however after the first day I fell in love. In love with even the most poisonous beings of the jungle to the point where I was not avoiding them any longer but hoping to witness them in real-life.

The sound of the hard rain, strongest I've ever heard in my life, forced me out of bed at 3am. I stood on the outskirts of the volunteer grounds and jungle watching the rain pound down to earth and listening in awe of what seemed to be destructive sounds of nature. I was mystified. Which was louder – the rain or the animals? I couldn’t tell you.

The constant sweat, uncomfortable insect bites, rashes and injuries from the terrain are all distant memories now but always humbling.

Simona, the notorious capuchin monkey and mischief-maker, stole the hearts of everyone with her overgrown personality. You see it in movies, but who knew a monkey can intentionally steal something and intensely stare into your eyes to tell you she knows what she’s done (and that she won’t stop until she feels like it)?! A few minutes later she jumps into your lap from a nearby tree for a belly rub and head massage. Typical Simona!

Volunteers would take out the olingo Ichi and kinkajou Daniel for some play-time, but as nocturnal creatures, it would really turn into a nap session, nuzzling in my shirt.

Coming back to my big city, I would sometimes forget that I am no longer back in the jungle, hearing noises and seeing movements. Months later, I thought I saw a snake move nearby a car! Of course, it was just a piece of trash blowing around…

There is something truly special about the animals and people of Costa Rica. The sanctuary owners and tenants/workers care and give up their livelihoods for that of the animals. I only hope that all the animals prosper and are able to return to their natural habitat soon, even though the sanctuary is a very happy place for them.

(This story from the previous location of the Center what was located in Moin)

Dominik Opalka, Germany, November 2013

My time at the Costa Rica Rescue Center in September 2013 was one of the best things I did with my life so far. I met awesome people and was part of a team, which really made a difference through the work and dedication to the animals.

As an example, I will tell a story including Simona and Wim, the two white-headed capuchines at the sanctuary. Simona kept escaping out of the Butterfly Garden, the large area where they could play, run, and chill with the volunteers, so we couldn’t take them for a walk to that area for some days. When everything was fixed and Dominika and me took them out to the Butterfly Garden for the first time since days, they were so calm and thankful, that I felt like crying a bit.

This shows how amazing the work with the animals at the sanctuary is, because you get back all hours of working through such moments, where you feel that there is a connection between the animals and the volunteers and how thankful the animals are for the work the volunteers do. This work has to continue, because it is an important contribution to wildlife conservation and biodiversity, and a great experience for both volunteers and animals.

(This story from the previous location of the Center what was located in Moin)


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