Sloth Conservation And Wildlife Experience

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Volunteer at this wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica and aid the conservation of a range of endemic wildlife species as you help to protect these amazing animals from the dangers of deforestation.

Located in the rainforest of Costa Rica, the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience has an incredibly unique and inspiring backstory. The project began back in 1999 when two young girls decided to make their mutual vision of saving the rainforest a reality. The duo began by selling handmade crafts on the side of the road to raise money towards rainforest protection, and eventually, their hard work paid off, with their little dream evolving into something much greater: a wildlife sanctuary!

Today, the once-humble wildlife sanctuary now helps countless animals throughout Costa Rica, taking in various wildlife species (such as monkeys, anteaters and exotic birds), and providing them with the care that they need. Whether working to rehabilitate the animals, preparing them for release, or creating a permanent home for those that can no longer survive in the wild, the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience is a shining example of Costa Rica’s overall conservation efforts.

As a volunteer on this project, you will play a crucial role in contributing to the conservation of Costa Rica’s most exciting and diverse wildlife, including the beloved sloth. Your assistance with activities such as enrichment, food preparation, reforestation and maintenance will be crucial in helping the centre to run smoothly, ensuring that it can continue caring for the wildlife in the region for years to come.

Located in the rainforest of Costa Rica, the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience has an incredibly unique and inspiring backstory. The project began back in 1999 when two young girls decided to make their mutual vision of saving the rainforest a reality. The duo began by selling handmade crafts on the side of the road to raise money towards rainforest protection, and eventually, their hard work paid off, with their little dream evolving into something much greater: a wildlife sanctuary!

Today, the once-humble wildlife sanctuary now helps countless animals throughout Costa Rica, taking in various wildlife species (such as monkeys, anteaters and exotic birds), and providing them with the care that they need. Whether working to rehabilitate the animals, preparing them for release, or creating a permanent home for those that can no longer survive in the wild, the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience is a shining example of Costa Rica’s overall conservation efforts.

As a volunteer on this project, you will play a crucial role in contributing to the conservation of Costa Rica’s most exciting and diverse wildlife, including the beloved sloth. Your assistance with activities such as enrichment, food preparation, reforestation and maintenance will be crucial in helping the centre to run smoothly, ensuring that it can continue caring for the wildlife in the region for years to come.

Please be aware that this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, and while sloths are resident here, there are numerous species of animals which also require care. You will spend time volunteering with a variety of animals (such as monkeys, anteaters and birds), so please come with an open mind and a willingness to work with a range of species and not just sloths.

Anteater at the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience
Enrichment
You will complete a variety of enrichment activities which help to exercise the animals' wild instincts and give them the skills they need to survive in the wild. These can be both environmental and nutritional. For the environmental enrichment activities, you will head into the rainforest to find the leaves of native trees and palms to make the animals’ enclosure as close to their natural habitat as possible. For nutritional enrichment, you will come up with a variety of ways to teach the animals to forage for their food, much as they would in the wild. This is a crucial and exciting activity that gives you the chance to show your creative side!
Preparing Food at the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience
Food Preparation & Distributing
You will spend time collecting, preparing, and then distributing food and water to the animal residents at the sanctuary. You will do this alongside a trained animal caretaker who will ensure that you approach the enclosures in the correct manner and have prepared the correct food for the right animal. This is vital as certain animals will be on special diets and so the correct nutrition plan must be followed.
Cleaning an Enclosure at the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience
Enclosure Cleaning
To ensure that all the animals at the centre have a suitable environment in which to live, you will help to clean their enclosures on a regular basis (typically once a day). You will carry out this activity under the guidance of an animal caretaker, who will ensure that the correct procedures are carried out for the safety of both yourself and the animals.
Sloth at the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience
Rescue & Release
With almost 200 animal rescues and releases taking place each year, the sanctuary team certainly have their hands full! When either of these events takes place, you may have the chance to join the team and witness them in action. This could be anything from rescuing a monkey that needs medical attention to releasing a sloth back into its wild forest home!
Baby Sloths in a Hammock
Boot Camp & Nursery
A visit to the on-site ‘boot camp’ and sloth nursery is an excellent opportunity to learn about the vital work being undertaken at the sanctuary, right from the rescue of the little ones through to the rehabilitation of injured or habituated sloths. This is your chance to see these animals up-close and improve your understanding of what it takes to truly aid their conservation.
Tracking a Sloth at the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience
Sloth Tracking
Once per week, you will head out in search of a sloth which has previously been rehabilitated by the project team and released into forests around the sanctuary grounds. This sloth was fitted with a radio collar which allows you to track it using telemetry, and once you have located it, you will make behavioural observations from a safe distance.
Extra Activities
Extra Activities
One day a week, you and your group may opt to visit the local marina. Here, you can enjoy a delicious meal by the ocean, spend time checking out local shops, or simply enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk! (Please note that this is not a guaranteed part of your itinerary; similarly, you are able to opt-out of this excursion if you wish.)
Manuel Antonio National Park
Free Time
Each week you will get one day off. You can spend your day relaxing by the onsite pool, exploring the local area, or, if you are feeling more adventurous, you could organise a day trip kayaking, parasailing, zip-lining or visiting the local national park (although these will come at an additional cost).

Below is an example of a 2-week itinerary, but as this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, the daily itinerary can often change depending on the needs of the sanctuary and the animals present at any given time.

For families, it is possible to join this project for 1 week. Please enquire for more information.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at the project site, you will be given time to settle in and meet the other volunteers. Depending on your arrival time, you may also take a tour of the wildlife sanctuary and facilities, including the pool, restaurant and laundry room. In the evening, you will enjoy a delicious meal and spend your time getting to know your fellow volunteers!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
Each day, you will take part in two different activities. Your first will begin after breakfast at 8:00am and take you all the way to lunch. After having lunch as a group you will then take part in your second activity, usually between 1:30pm and 4:00pm. Each evening you will then have time to relax after a day's work with the rest of your group and enjoy dinner. During this time you will also have a day off where you can explore the local area and also a day where you will visit the local marina with your group.
Day 15 - Fond Farewells:
Today is your final day on the project, which sadly means it is time to bid farewell to your fellow volunteers, the staff and all of the animals at the sanctuary! You will have a lovely send-off with time to share any favourite memories or photographs with your group, and of course enjoy a delicious meal before transferring back to the airport (either by taxi or by bus).

To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

You can join this project on any day of the year, so if you would like to join on a date that is not listed below, please enquire and we can book your place for you.

For families, we are able to offer a 1-week duration. Please enquire for more information.

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Volunteer Accommodation

During your time on the project, you will be staying in one of two rooms in the volunteer house with up to 6 other volunteers on a same-sex basis. The beds are all bunk beds, and as such, you may be allocated a top bunk, so you must be comfortable going up and down bunk bed ladders. The showers are separated by a rounded, stone-wall partition with a curtain, and the toilets are separated in the same manner. (These are shared facilities.)

The volunteer house comes complete with a kitchen and dining table, a fridge where you can store drinks and snacks, and lockers for storing any valuables.

Accommodation Upgrade

You can upgrade to stay in one of three on-site private cottages for an additional cost of $180 per cottage per night (subject to availability). Each cottage has two double beds and private bathroom facilities and can accommodate up to 4 people. They are situated close to the project's restaurant area and swimming pool, and are a great option for couples or families looking for an added level of comfort and privacy.

Meals & Beverages

Three meals a day are provided for you whilst on the project. Breakfast includes a variety of cereals, toast, fruit and fruit juice. Lunches and dinners are buffet-style and will typically consist of rice, beans, salad, and vegetables, with the other parts of the meal changing on a regular basis.

Clean drinking water and a variety of juices are also available to drink throughout the day, and you can purchase soft drinks on-site. We can cater for vegans, vegetarians, and for those with food allergies.

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

As this project is predominantly based on the rescue and rehabilitation of animals year-round, there is no preferred time to volunteer when it comes to the animals you see. Certain animals will reside at the centre for life, and new animals arrive on a regular basis, so you’re guaranteed to see an array of species!

However, the weather can have an impact on both your involvement with and the visibility of wild animals. The dry season runs from January through to the middle/end of April, and throughout this time the forests will be slightly barer due to a lack of rain, meaning fewer wild animals may be seen in the region. The rainy season in Costa Rica runs from May until December, and this is when the forests in the region really come to life. It will still be very warm during these months, with the rains typically falling in the afternoons or evenings, therefore, you may find it preferable to volunteer between May and December when the forests are at their fullest.

Average Monthly Weather in Quepos, Costa Rica

The rainy season is also the most likely time for reforestation activities to take place, so if this is an activity you would like to take part in, we advise travelling between May and December.

Getting There

You will need to arrive into San Jose Airport in Costa Rica, located approximately 3 hours from the project site. Transfers are not included in the cost of the project but can be arranged at an additional cost of $216 each way. If you need a transfer from a hotel/accommodation in San Jose as opposed to the airport, this can also be arranged but the transfer fee is $240 (single journey).

Alternatively, there is a regular bus service between San Jose (bus station) and Quepos, which is close to the project site. This service usually takes between 3-5 hours and costs approximately US$10. Upon arrival in Quepos, you would need to take a taxi to the project site, which will cost an additional US$20. Please contact us for further information on scheduling and pricing.

Where possible, it would be better if you could arrive into San Jose before 12pm; this way you will arrive at the project site before it gets dark and will be able to enjoy dinner with your fellow volunteers! If this is not possible, you must arrive by 3pm if you wish to take a transfer to the project site.

Visa Requirements

Most nationalities, including British and American citizens, do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica but will need to provide evidence of onward travel plans such as a flight ticket or bus ticket exiting the country. We do, however, recommend checking with your local embassy regarding visa requirements.

Fitness & Skills

There are no specific skills needed to take part in this project, but you do need to be passionate about animals and willing to get involved in a variety of activities. You will spend a lot of time on this project on your feet, walking from location to location and possibly carrying moderately heavy objects, so you will need to have a good level of fitness. It can be very humid in Costa Rica, so please bear this in mind when deciding if this is the project for you. If you are offered the opportunity to take part in reforestation, please be aware that this involves a lot of walking on uneven ground, as well as up and down quite steep terrain. In the rainy season, this land overall can be quite treacherous, so be sure to take the correct footwear, as well as consider your own physical capabilities.

Vaccinations

The vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website. Please note that volunteers with Measles or the Herpes Simplex Virus (with active sores) will not be able to work with the monkeys as the animals are very susceptible to viral infections. The project also requires that you provide proof of both the Hepatitis A and Tetanus vaccinations upon your arrival.

No Contact Policy

We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or hold the sloths whilst on this project. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason.

We always need to keep the best interest of the animals in mind and human contact can have a harmful effect on sloths as well as other wildlife. Touching and holding sloths is detrimental to the possibility of their release and increases the risk of infections. The No Contact Policy also stands to protect these animals from accidental injury from inexperienced handlers. By having this policy, the sanctuary avoids unnecessary captivity and demonstrates respect for the wild nature of these animals.

Although you will not have hands-on contact with the sloths, you will still be able to observe them regularly and see how your contribution to their husbandry and enrichment makes a real difference in their lives!

An Interview With The Volunteers

At the Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience, you will be able to take part in the rehabilitation and conservation of some of the country's most vulnerable wildlife. Learn more about this incredible project directly from the volunteers.

The Origin of The Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience

The Sloth Conservation and Wildlife Experience has a wonderful back story of two young girls who wanted to save the rainforest. We sat down with the founder of the project, Jennifer for a chat about their incredible history and what volunteers experience whilst on the project.

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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Three meals per day
  • Full orientation and support from the project managers
  • All activities on the project site
  • Wi-Fi
  • Laundry facilities (once a week)
  • A monetary contribution to the project

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers (can be arranged for an additional cost)
  • Insurance
  • Snacks and alcoholic beverages
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987