Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center

Dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of Costa Rican wildlife.

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 with us at Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center 

As a volunteer at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center, you will be saving the lives of Costa Rica's most beautiful and endangered wildlife.

Helping with physical therapy for our one armed sloth, and teaching abused marmoset babies how to climb, giving an injured owl the courage to fly again, are just a few of the remarkable experiences you'll have as a volunteer at the Rescue Center. And that's just before lunch! 

Our volunteers provide support for every animal at the sanctuary, and sometimes certain recovery processes call for active rehabilitation efforts.  Main duties include feeding, cleaning, and keeping the animals stimulated, whether it is inventing toys for the howler monkeys, building climbing structures for the sloths to exercise (yes, even sloths need exercise!) or helping to bandage a puppy's burned paw. 

Volunteers of all ages and with all levels of experience and education are welcome at the Rescue Center. Whether you're a veterinary student with a broad knowledge of animal medicine, or simply a person with a passion for saving wildlife; your help is what keeps our Rescue Center going. 

We have volunteers from every country and background possible. Spanish fluency is not necessary (the animals are all multi-lingual), and we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long, so volunteers are welcome every day in every season.

The minimun time to volunteer with us is 1 week, and while to volunteering at the rescue center is free we do require a 35 USD a day to pay for your three meals a day and a bed in our dorm style accomodation. 

The Rescue Center's beautiful surroundings, kind staff, and magnificent animals make volunteering at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center a wonderful, life-changing experience, and keep our volunteers coming back year after year. 

Doing this much good has never been this much fun!

For more information on volunteering at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center , Contact Us NOW!


Here is a suggested Kit list for what to bring when you come volunteer with us:
 (When buying your kit, please use an element of common sense. The kit list is intended to cover all of the items that you could possibly need. While some items are compulsory, others you will manage without, but many of these you will probably be very grateful to have brought with you.
Furthermore, flight companies are becoming increasingly strict on weight allowance, so pack with caution. Please do not bring expensive clothes or equipment. Likewise, expensive items such as jewellery and fancy watches will attract attention from the locals and will be a temptation to steal. At the end of you tme here any clothes, medical equipment, stationery, toiletries or other things you leave behind will be donated to the center or local community. )

Travel – For travelling bring a rucksack (65 litres should be adequate) and day pack (20-25 litres). Make sure it has a rain cover.

Zip lock bags – Useful for keeping everything (especially electrical items) dry and dirt-free.

Flashlights and batteries – Bring a head torch with some batteries, these are invaluable for late night toilet visits. If you can, get your hands on a solar powered battery charger and bring a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries as backup.

Water bottle- there is an overabundance of plastic water bottles in Costa Rica, and to limit our negative impact on the environment we require that you bring your own refillable water bottle to use while here. Please make sure it is labelled as well, for your own sake. 

Toiletries – bring your own towel. Sarongs dry the fastest and are light-weight. Please try to only bring biodegradable products in order to limit our impact on the environment.

Bug spray - and essentials for caring for mosquito and bug bites. If you can find of DEET free repellent, this is preferred as it will not harm the animals or the environment as much.

Clothing – Rough work clothes, along with a lightweight waterproof coat, and a long sleeved top for protection against mosquitoes are all useful items. A warmer top will come in handy for those colder nights and long trousers to protect you against mosquitoes will be a help.

Footwear – A pair of sturdy hiking boots are most appropriate for working. You may also want to bring some comfortable trainers for your free time, and sandals or flip-flops for relaxing in.

Medical & Hygiene – Please make sure you have read the medical and safety guidelines within your project area. No matter how careful you are, you will always find yourself getting numerous small cuts and grazes. Make sure you have plenty of plasters/band-aids, bandages, decent tape, lots of cotton wool and an adequate supply of Betadine and Cicatrin powder and talc.

Music – You are welcome to bring any mobile phones, music and walkmans/mp3 players you may have, however make sure you have plenty of batteries as you may not be able to recharge where you’re staying.

Other – Insect repellent is a must, there are a number of different brands but make sure you find one of suitable strength. A good Spanish dictionary will be useful for learning the local language. Also, do not forget to bring lots of sun cream (at least factor 15), sunglasses, and a wide brimmed sunhat.

Donations- we are always in need of supplies for the rescued animals so if you would like to bring anything it would be greatly appreciated! Meyenberg Non Fat Powdered Goat Milk is only around 10 USD and is used for all infant sloths, spider monkeys, capuchins, howler monkeys etc. . Also toys for the animals (Monkeys, kinkajous, birds) is very warmly received! The center has an amazon wish list if you would like to get ideas for what is needed. And we always always always need more building supplies and equipment! 

Please check your kit list and ensure you haven’t forgotten anything essential!

Being volunteer means...

... getting dirty by cleaning enclosures


... caring about the health of our animals. For example help weighing the baby sloths to monitor their health.

.... learning about the animals nutrition and helping prepare food every day 

... and of course therefore feeding the animals 2-3 times a day


... making new enrichment toys for the animals to play and interact with

Food enrichment can stimulate both play and foraging instincts for the animals as well as apply certain sensory and tactile enrichment factors.

Food enrichment can stimulate both play and foraging instincts for the animals as well as apply certain sensory and tactile enrichment factors.


... and of course releasing animals to the wild! 


... being creative, start personal projects to improve the center and the animal habitats

Recycling and using donated material to build new enclosures for the animals 

Recycling and using donated material to build new enclosures for the animals 


... and of course being part of a community!

Volunteer testimonies 

4. Izzy Sarah McElhinney from England (Oct. 2015)

"The centre was more than I ever expected it to be and I left with a full heart and a sadness to be leaving."

Click here to read Izzys blog post about her experience and impressions she had at our Rescue Center. Keep on reading to learn more about the history of our Rescue Center and Animals and of course to see the change of volunteers attitude during their time here. 


3. Carly Morris from the United States (Aug. 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!

2. Maja Štigler from the United States (Jul. 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!

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 andstaff 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)


1. Dominik Opalka from Germany (Nov. 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)

Click here to check out where our volunteers come from