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Volunteering at Refuge for Wildlife is a truly life changing experience helping us rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned wildlife in exotic Costa Rica!

Volunteering at Refuge for Wildlife

volunteers at Refuge for Wildlife building enrichment items for howler monkeys

Volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife for a life-changing experience. You will be able to make a significant contribution to the successful rehabilitation and release of the wildlife at our rescue facility. You will also have the rare opportunity to learn about the magnificent wildlife of Costa Rica along with some of the issues that they face.  Due to the problems associated with human imprinting and in order to maximize the chances of successful release, the volunteers do not handle or feed the monkeys in our care; however, you can be part of the rehab process in so many other ways.

Volunteers with all levels of experience are welcome, anyone with a love for wildlife and a passion for saving monkeys can volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife!  We have a different 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, library and supermarkets. Playas de Nosara includes 4 beautiful beaches: Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada and Playa Ostional which is noted for it’s 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

The types of duties our volunteers in our Educational Volunteer Program perform at Refuge for Wildlife:

  • Food preparation
  • Cleaning kennels and enclosures
  • Laundry
  • Wildlife enrichment activities
  • Feeding non-primate wildlife*
  • Assisting our veterinarian in the Clinic**

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
Information for people wanting to volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife
Voluntariado en Refuge for Wildlife – Español
Information for people wanting to volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife
Voluntariado en Refuge for Wildlife para Profesionales en Veterinaria – Español


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 the 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 your 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

  • 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 Nosara for at least 3 days before volunteer work begins to ensure good health (no viruses contracted while traveling).
  • Payment of volunteer fees. For volunteers that decide to stay off-site, the cost is $100 per person, per week. For volunteers that decide to stay in the Volunteer Dorm, a payment of $180 per person, per week is required. For volunteers who wish to stay in our Guest Room, a payment of  $230 per person, per week (or $220 per person, per week if shared by a couple) is required.

*NEVER volunteer if you are sick or have traveled recently (you must be in Nosara for 3 days since traveling). Colds and flus can be transmitted to the animals and, in many cases, it is life threatening for them. If you are feeling unwell, let us know you won’t be coming in.

Email if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

Volunteer Accommodation

Volunteers are responsible for organising their own accommodation and transportation. At Refuge for Wildlife we offer two options for on-site shared accommodation: The Refuge Volunteer Dorm and the Volunteer Guest Room. Email for pricing and availability.

volunteer-dorm-1Volunteer Dorm – accommodations up to 4 guests

  • 4 double-sized bunk beds
  • 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 and laundry are not included


refuge-2517Guest Room – accommodations up to 3 guests

  • 1 queen-sized bed and 1 twin bed
  • 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 and laundry are not included

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.