Volunteer with Animals in Costa Rica

Volunteer Working with Animals

Volunteer Working with Animals in Costa Rica

In 2018, Tico Lingo partnered with a local wildlife rescue center just 25 minutes away. The center’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rican wildlife. They work with a model that focuses on conservation, education, and research to ensure a brighter tomorrow for the native animals of Costa Rica.

The project specializes in toucans, sloths, and owls, but works with a wide range of wildlife and operates as a multispecies center. From food preparations and feeding to cleaning enclosures and general maintenance, volunteers will be busy supporting the project where it’s needed most.

Volunteer Details

As a volunteer, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the project mission: rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rican wildlife. Volunteers will be working alongside local staff and interns and playing a hands-on role in providing much-needed support at the rescue center. Your tasks may include everything from chopping fruit and vegetables, cleaning enclosures, and helping with animal enrichment. Your skills will be used where they’re most needed.

This project is suited for volunteers with a go-getter attitude who are interested in working to help the project as a whole. This is a service project that requires a moderate degree of fitness and the willingness to get your hands dirty. Yes, you will be working with animals, but you will also be working with people in teams to accomplish sometimes challenging, but very rewarding tasks.

This program includes the following items:

  • 1 week of group Spanish classes (20 hours/wk, M-F) with Homestay family accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner, 7 days/week with homestay family*
  • Airport pick-up from San José Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
  • 8 hours/day volunteer work at animal rescue center
  • Orientation tour and map of Heredia and surrounding area
  • Official certificate of volunteer service stating length of stay and details of work
  • 24/7 emergency support via phone, 7am-7pm in-person support at Tico Lingo
  • Oral exam to ensure proper Spanish leveling conducted via Whatsapp or Skype
  • Conversational classes with local Costa Ricans every Thursday

*during volunteering, lunch is included

Typical Day-to-Day Volunteer Tasks

  • Food preparations: chopping fruit and vegetables, cutting fish, preparing carnivorous diets
  • Feeding: collecting and washing animal dishes, distributing food and refilling water
  • Cleaning enclosures and kennels
  • General maintenance such as cleaning the kitchen and sweeping the driveway

What Volunteers Could Do

  • Deep clean enclosures with the guidance of a long-term intern
  • Help provide enrichment for rescued animals
  • Help administration with data entry
  • Assist volunteer coordinators with volunteer activities and events
  • Become a project tour guide to 1-day visitors

Depending on the volunteer’s background and personality, they may be asked if they would like to help with other tasks. All volunteers are observed on how well they handle themselves around wildlife to determine further responsibility.

All volunteers will be asked for the following before arrival:

  • Be able to commit at least 5-weeks to the project (1 Week Spanish, 4 Weeks Volunteering).
  • Must be 18-years or older
  • Show proof of current tetanus and rabies vaccination
  • Show proof of international emergency medical insurance while volunteering
  • A 35% deposit for the total cost of the program (100% refundable up to 3 weeks before arrival)

Things to know about this program:

  • Signup dates are available year-round and this program begins every Monday.
  • Volunteers should plan to arrive the Saturday or Sunday before their desired start date.
  • Volunteers are not required to have experience working with animals to participate in this project.
  • Due to the necessity of conversational Spanish skills, each volunteer will go through a 1-week Spanish program that will orient them to the language and local dialect. If desired, volunteers can register for additional weeks of Spanish before transitioning to volunteering
  • Before each volunteer’s arrival, we conduct a thorough written and oral exam to assess their Spanish level and place them in the class that suits them best. Each volunteer will be placed with in a Spanish class with students that share the same listening and reading comprehension as well as similar abilities in speaking and conversation.
  • All programs regardless of length include homestay accommodation. While volunteering, a bagged lunch will be provided to volunteers that will be eaten while at project. All homestays are within walking distance of the school / volunteer project.
  • Homestay Checkout is on Sunday at 11am
  • We recommend volunteers bring an extra $50 USD per week in cash for souvenirs, and any forgotten toiletries. See our What to pack blog post for recommendations.

Airport Arrival
Upon arrival at San José Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO), a Tico Lingo team member will be waiting for you outside and holding a sign with your name on it.

Spanish Classes and Orientation
Comprised of no more than 6 students, classes start at 8am and run till 12pm. Nearly 100% of the class is taught in Spanish emphasizing listening and speaking skills. Coffee and tea are included! 🙂 After your first day of class, volunteers will partake in a 2-3 hour walking tour of downtown Heredia. A Tico Lingo team member will show you great local restaurants, the central market, and central parks for reference.

Transitioning to Volunteering
All Spanish programs conclude on Fridays. The following Saturday is available to students to participate in one of Tico Lingo’s tours, or simply spend time with their homestay family in Heredia Centro. Come Sunday morning, students will commute roughly 25 minutes to the volunteer project with Tico Lingo transportation where they will be introduced to their volunteer project homestay family.

The Volunteer Project
First Day (Monday): Volunteers will walk to the animal rescue project with their homestay families and arrive at the project at 7am. They will be introduced to key staff members and be given a full orientation of the rules, guidelines, and needs of all on-site animals.

Day-to-Day: A typical volunteer day begins at 7am finishes at 3pm. Volunteers will be given a list of tasks to complete with their team throughout the day, a lunch break to take around mid-day, and all necessary instruction and equipment for their assigned tasks.

Last Day: All volunteers will receive a certificate of completion of their volunteer program. Staff will celebrate and wish you safe travels.

Transportation to Airport: We used to provide airport drop offs, but since Uber arrived here in early 2017, we’ve been asking students and volunteers to simply download the app and take an Uber to the airport. Schedule’s tend to change, students want to stay longer, or pickup locations can be different than from the homestay which can all make organizing an airport drop off very difficult — we’ve seen much more success and flexibility for students going this route. Standard rates are about $8-$10 from Tico Lingo to the airport.

Fees associated with this program.
*Note that each program includes a 1-week intensive Spanish language course with Homestay Accommodation.

Length of ProgramProgram Fee ($USD)
5 weeks (1 week Spanish + 4 week Volunteering)$1600
6 weeks (1 week Spanish + 5 week Volunteering)$1,880
7 weeks (1 week Spanish + 6 week Volunteering)$2,150
8 weeks (1 week Spanish + 7 week Volunteering)$2,410
Additional Week Volunteering$250
Additional Week of Spanish$400

Additional Details:
• A 3.5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
• To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
Additional Costs to Consider:
• Flights, travel insurance (not-mandatory)
• Weekend tours and activities offered by Tico Lingo (if desired)
• Uber back to the airport at conclusion of the program
• Spending money – volunteers in Costa Rica generally find $50USD to be sufficient for weekly expenses (souvenirs, snacks, misc.)
• Additional Spanish classes with Homestay (discounted to by 10% for volunteers)

Program Perks

Homestay Accommodation

Support a local family financially; share breakfast and dinner with them daily (+ lunch when volunteering), and enjoy wifi, your own bedroom, and a place to relax.

Make an Impact

Volunteers will be helping to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rican wildlife while positively impacting the community that maintains their mission to save animals day in and day out.

Airport Pickup at Any Arrival Time

Regardless what time you arrive, a friendly face will be at the airport to pick you up and introduce you to the family you’ll be living with.

Spanish Classes and Orientation

Each program includes a 1-week intensive Spanish course aimed to help you orientate to the language, culture, and city of Heredia.

Looking for something different?

Check out our flexible Spanish immersion programs