Menu Close


Volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife for a life-changing experience

volunteers at Refuge for Wildlife building enrichment items for howler monkeys

Our volunteer program is designed to be rewarding, educational and fun. We strive to make sure that you will learn as much as possible about the magnificent wildlife of Costa Rica along with some of the issues that it faces. Our volunteers are our greatest ambassadors; by sharing time with our dedicated team, you will leave us armed with the knowledge to spread the word. You will learn about the challenges of rehabilitating wildlife and how managing diet, environmental enrichment and minimizing human interaction gives the animals in our care the very best chance of being released back into the wild. You will make a direct contribution to the successful rehabilitation and release of the wildlife at our rescue center…  You will be part of the solution!

Volunteers with all levels of experience are welcome, anyone with a passion for protecting wildlife can volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife. We also have a dedicated volunteer program for qualified veterinary professionals.

Dream Location For Volunteering

Landscape shot of Nosara Beach and JungleRefuge for Wildlife is located in Playas de Nosara, on the Northwest coast of Costa Rica. The Refuge is located adjacent to the town of Nosara, which has a local airport with commuter flights daily, a post office, a library, and supermarkets. Playas de Nosara includes 4 beautiful beaches: Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and Playa Ostional which is noted for its thousands of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles that arrive monthly to lay their eggs.

The Refuge is located on a hill overlooking Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and Playa Ostional. We are closest to Playa Guiones where you will find everything you need including accommodation, transportation, restaurants, shops, and nightlife.  When you’re not volunteering enjoy time on the beach, surfing, practicing yoga, horseback riding, trekking or simply enjoying Costa Rica.

The Exotic Wildlife At The Refuge

Scarlet macaw rescued at Refuge for wildlife

The Refuge receives all types of wildlife, including exotic birds like parrots, macaws, and motmots as well as arboreal wildlife such as pizotes, anteaters, kinkajous, squirrels and opossums. In the past, we have rescued wild cats, such as margays and jaguarundis. We specialize in howler monkeys; mostly orphaned or abandoned infants. We have howlers of all ages with different needs.

Howler monkeys are wild animals that have a very strong social network and it takes time to create trust with them. We are not a zoo – we are predominantly a rescue center but, for animals that cannot be released, we do provide sanctuary. Refuge for Wildlife is operated by a Costa Rican non-profit foundation; Fundación Albergue de Animales de Nosara. 

Volunteer Duties

Volunteers are an important part of our team. You will be helping our local staff with the care of our wildlife residents by:

  • Feeding non-primate infant wildlife**, such as birds, squirrels, opossums, porcupines and many more
  • Providing environmental enrichment activities
  • Building enclosures and items that we need
  • Cleaning enclosures
  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Doing animal laundry
  • Assisting our veterinarian in the Clinic (Veterinary Professionals Only)

** Our experience has proven that to maximize the efficiency of our rehabilitation process, we have to carefully control human exposure to the infant howler monkeys. We hope you understand that to give our orphaned howlers the very best chance of success, volunteers are not able to feed these delicate infants.

Download a PDF about Volunteering at Refuge for Wildlife:

Information for people wanting to volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife
Volunteering at Refuge for Wildlife – English
Information for people wanting to volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife
Volunteering for Veterinary Professionals – English

Training and Certification

Howler monkey smiling at Refuge for Wildlife

Volunteering at Refuge for Wildlife requires special training on daily protocols and handling of infant and injured wild animals.  Volunteers will be thoroughly educated on how to care for our rescued animals and will be closely monitored. During your introduction day you have a tour of the refuge, learn safety procedures, discuss the tasks and environmental enrichment work volunteers do, as well as learn useful information about Nosara.

Many colleges and universities around the world allow our volunteers to use the time they spent with us towards school credit. After completing our month-long educational volunteer program, volunteers who are able to obtain school credit through volunteer work will receive a certificate and a detailed letter of recommendation detailing the type of work performed with us, the experience and training you received. We will do our best to provide any information that colleges require – please obtain this information and advise us well in advance of your arrival.

Requirements for Volunteers & Costs

  • We ask that volunteers commit to at least one month (four weeks) and agree to work for 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Volunteers need to have traveler’s health insurance that specifically includes volunteering around wildlife.
  • All volunteers MUST get a flu shot at least 30 days before volunteer work begins and be up-to-date with their tetanus vaccination. Volunteers MUST be in good health to work with the animals – if you are not 100% healthy, please DO NOT come to the Refuge. The monkeys and other wildlife are very sensitive to our viruses, flu, and colds.
  • Volunteers need to be in Costa Rica for at least 3 days before volunteer work begins to ensure good health (no viruses contracted while traveling).
  •  Volunteer fees.  For volunteers that choose to stay off-site, the cost is $100 per person, per week. For volunteers that decide to stay in our Volunteer Dorm (max 4 people sharing), the cost is $180 per person, per week. For those that wish to stay in our Private Guest Room, the cost is $225 per week for single occupancy or $195 per person per week for double occupancy. Travel to/from Nosara is at the volunteers’ own cost; meals are self-catering.

Email if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

Volunteer Accommodation

At Refuge for Wildlife we offer two options for on-site shared accommodation: The Refuge Volunteer Dorm and a Private Guest Room. Email for availability.

volunteer-dorm-1Volunteer Dorm – Maximum of 4 guests sharing

  • 4 double-sized bunk beds (bedding is included)
  • Separate entrance
  • Spacious storage
  • Bathroom with shower
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Living area with cable TV
  • Air-Conditioning and ceiling fans
  • Main house pool and porch access
  • Wifi
  • Meals are self-catering


refuge-2517Private Guest Room – accommodates up to 3 guests

  • 1 queen-sized bed and 1 twin bed (bedding is included)
  • Spacious storage
  • Bathroom with shower
  • Private balcony
  • Small living area with cable TV and fridge
  • Air-Conditioning and ceiling fans
  • Main house kitchen, living area, pool and porch access
  • Wifi
  • Meals are self-catering

Main House Shared Access Areas

All volunteers, whether staying on-site or off-site will have access to the Refuge pool, kitchen and living area.

Most of our volunteers stay on-site at Refuge for Wildlife, but there are also many accommodation options available in Playa Guiones if you wish to live off-site. The Refuge is quite a distance uphill from most hostels and rentals so transportation will be essential if you choose to live off-site.

Email if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

School/Youth Groups and Local Resident Volunteers

Groups and Residents are also welcome to volunteer at the Refuge doing work that does not require animal contact. Please contact us if your school group is interested in volunteering with us. Each group will be required to volunteer for a minimum number of hours and tasks will involve building and designing enrichment tools, education and fundraising. This past year we had several school groups donate their time by building us a fun outdoor jungle gym for our baby howlers!

Many local residents choose to focus their volunteer hours on education, fundraising and conservation. Programs like, Stop the Shocks, and Fundraising require months of dedication as most projects, such as insulating a transformer, can take more than 6 months to finish. It is because of this that long-term residents are preferred for our programs. Our committees meet once a week or twice a month and an average of 10 hours of work per month is required per committee member. Email if you’re interested in joining one of our committees.

Anyone can help us fundraise! Whether you’re living in Costa Rica or abroad, we need your help. Organize a local bake sale or fundraising event. 100% of your donation will go towards helping the animals at Refuge for Wildlife. Here in Nosara, each year, the local school children from Nosara Home School Beach Academy organize a “Monkey Race” to raise money for our Stop the Shocks program. In 2016 they raised almost $1000 for the cause and 100% of their donation went towards purchasing wildlife protection equipment to make our transformers safe from electrocution.

Email if you’re interested in volunteering with us.