San Carlos, Costa Rica
Dear Volunteer… You have made an exciting decision to give your time and effort to an organization that can desperately use your help, congratulations! The world needs more people like you. Now you are likely looking for a project that is a good fit for you. Maybe my experience will help guide your decision…
I spent two weeks on the Animal Rescue and Conservation Program in San Carlos in the summer of 2012. San Carlos is a beautiful rural part of Costa Rica; it is much quieter and less busy than San José. I stayed with a host family who were extremely accommodating and kind. They cooked for me and provided me with a very nice room and bed. We had la hora de café each day and practiced my Spanish… they were very patient with me and I learned so much! They even took me to the local hot springs which was very nice. I was the only volunteer in the house for my first week before another volunteer joined me. It is never certain exactly how many other volunteers will be in a host home or at the zoologico at any given time, so think of it as a surprise!
The rescue center, or the zoologico as we called it, is a quaint family owned operation that houses animals who have been rescued from situations that would have undoubtedly resulted in their death. Many of these animals were rescued in infancy, and never learned how to care for themselves in the wild. The rehabilitation of these types of animals can be long and difficult. Other animals are rescued as adults and can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild! During my stay on the animal rescue program, I had the privilege of aiding in the release of a monkey. It was so rewarding!
There are many animals at the zoologico: deer, monkeys, tapirs, lions, pigs, and macaws just to name a few. The monkeys were my favorite, they love to hold your hand and play with your hair! Most of the animals are safe and tame, and these are the only ones the volunteers will work with, don’t worry! You will not have to get in the cage with the lions!
Daily responsibilities were the same, but we often split up into groups to tackle the chores, allowing us to experience different parts of the zoologico each day. We cut food in the mornings, fed the animals, washed cages and sidewalks, and did repairs and maintenance where needed.
My time volunteering in Costa Rica in San Carlos, was very rewarding. I made great friends from all over the world who I still keep in touch with today. The Zoologico benefits greatly from the work of volunteers. The center survives on the small amount of money it makes from visitors to the zoo, donations, and sales from the small gift shop; they do not have sufficient funds to employ large numbers of workers, and thus rely on the good work of volunteers like you!
If you love animals and nature, then the rescue center is the place for you!