We never would of thought our first time visiting Central America would be spent volunteering in the jungle of Costa Rica. But here we were, sitting on a bench surrounded by lush vegetation feeding a 2 month old orphaned sloth – our week volunteering at the Costa Rican Animal Rescue Center with GoEco was going to be an eye opener thats for sure!
This was our first time volunteering anywhere, let alone abroad, and we were so excited for our adventure to begin.
Why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species, which represents nearly 5% of the total species estimated worldwide. This makes Costa Rica one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world! However, habitat destruction from deforestation, poaching, indiscriminate use of pesticides, the illegal pet trade, and the lack of wildlife protection have caused a decline in the populations of many species to levels that threaten their survival. The rescue and conservation of these threatened species and their environment is vital for their protection.
The Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center
The Animal Rescue Center is located in San Miguel on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, surrounded by a beautiful tropical rainforest. The surrounding area contains pretty much all the animals’ natural diet, including leaves and fruit.
The animal rescue center we were paired with has an incredible back story. In January 2015, the center was forced to leave their original property in Moin (on the Caribbean coast) when the construction of a new port at their site was approved by the Costa Rican government. The center was given a very short time period to move, which of course was stressful for both the staff and the animals. The center worked to save as many of the cages and building materials as possible, however they were not able to recover everything given the limited time. As a result a lot of the facilities at the new location were still under construction, however they are making progress everyday thanks to the hard working staff and volunteers!
We found not only the center to have a heart breaking back story, but also the animals. We were working with an alcoholic Howler monkey that had been chained to a bar for most of it’s life, used to a diet of beer and peanuts. Samona, a beautiful Capuchin monkey who was brought up as a pick pocketer. Serita, a baby sloth born blind and with only one ear. These are just a few of the stories from many more animals that we looked after at the center.
During our stay we provide hands-on support for every animal at the sanctuary. Our main duties included feeding, cleaning, and keeping the animals stimulated, whether it was inventing toys for the howler monkeys, making “ice-cream” for the kinkajous or building climbing structures for the sloths to exercise -yes, even sloths need exercise!
Here are a few things we got up to during our week of volunteering…
Organising Volunteering Abroad
If you are interested in volunteering abroad we feel the best way to do this is with an organisation that can set you up with a project of your choice. We teamed up with GoEco who help people that want to volunteer abroad do just that. You simply tell them what kind of volunteering you are interested in experiencing and what country you would like to travel to and they will help find you your perfect project.
If you are interested in the volunteer project we experienced check out the Costa Rica Animal & Rescue Conservation with GoEco.
As always, we filmed our entire experience here at the project. If you want to see exactly what it’s like to work at a animal rescue center you can watch our 5 day’s at the center below.
Day 1: Wildlife Volunteering in Costa Rica
Day 2: Cute Sloth Overload
Day 3: Attacked by Tiny Monkeys
Day 4: Babysitting a New Born Sloth
Day 5: Honey Bears Going Crazy Over Honey
Have you ever volunteered abroad? We would love to read about your experience below.
Thank you to GoEco for allowing us to experience this incredible volunteer project in Costa Rica. Our opinion is, as always, our own.