Refuge for Wildlife
Focus: Animal care and Conservation.
Founded in January of 1999, the Refuge for Wildlife has been a place for injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife from Nosara and the Nicoya Peninsula region of Costa Rica for 17 years. Initially, these animals arrived at the Refuge for Wildlife from our local neighbourhoods, then from the entire Nosara region and now from all over Costa Rica. Many of the new arrivals are very young orphaned Howler Monkeys.
While the Howler Monkeys compose the majority of the animals that pass through the Refuge, they are certainly not the only visitors.
We receive a wide range of wildlife that has included the other three native species of Costa Rican primates; squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchins. We also receive a wild variety of birds including, parrots, toucans, hawks, owls, pelicans, doves, vultures, as well as margays, squirrels, porcupines, opossums, pizotes, raccoons, kinkajous, snakes, porcupines and bats. We also have a long term resident at the Refuge – Mariano the scarlet macaw who unfortunately has a permanent injury to his wing since his rescue many years ago.
Our Emergency Response Team responds to more than 200 wildlife emergencies each year and is specifically trained to deal with monkeys and other wildlife who are injured by falling from broken branches, high-voltage electrocutions, cars and attacks from other wildlife or domestic pets. The Refuge receives and treats all types of wild animals, but howler monkeys have become our specialty. Because of our expertise and experience with rehabilitating howler monkeys, we also receive monkeys that have been injured in other locations from all over Costa Rica.
At the Refuge Clinic, our team of professionals and volunteers provide immediate and long-term medical attention. Injured adult animals that require continued care are quarantined for a period of time and then transferred to outdoor enclosures, where they continue to receive supervision and medical evaluation. As soon as the adult animals are deemed healthy they are returned to the jungle and whenever possible, to the same location from where they were rescued.
The orphaned, infant Howler Monkeys and other young animals are raised at the Refuge Nursery until old enough to transition to the outdoor enclosures, usually this is at about 10-12 months of age. There, they join with other young monkeys. Our goal is to help them create a new family group in preparation for their journey to a new life as a wild monkey in the jungle.
Our goal for every animal that arrives at the Refuge for Wildlife, is to return them to the jungle as quickly as possible. At the age of 16-to-24 months the newly formed family of young monkeys will be transferred to a release center to begin their reintroduction to the jungle. This portion of the program will usually take another 18-to-24 months. Other young animals such as, pizotes, raccoons, opossums, porcupines and birds are released in areas determined best for them to survive and thrive.
Costs & Benefits
As a volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife you will be helping us with our injured and orphaned baby monkeys and other wildlife. This is a life-changing experience and a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals.
Volunteers with all levels of experience are welcome, including veterinary students, nurses, and doctors, but anyone with a love for wildlife and a passion for saving monkeys can volunteer at Refuge for Wildlife!
The types of duties our volunteers in our Educational Volunteer Program perform at Refuge for Wildlife:
Hand-feeding baby animals
Assisting our veterinarian in the clinic
Cleaning enclosures and laundry
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.
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 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.
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 email@example.com for pricing and availability.
We ask that volunteers commit to at least one month (four weeks) and agree to work for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week
Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, or 18-20 with letters of recommendation.
Volunteers need to have traveller’s health insurance.
All volunteers MUST get a flu shot at least 30 days before volunteer work begins. 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).
A $150 cash refundable security deposit is required from both on and off-site volunteers on arrival. The deposit will cover any damages to equipment and/or the facilities and will be returned at the end of the agreed upon volunteer period.
*NEVER volunteer if you are sick or have travelled 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.
Refuge for Wildlife
Refugio Animales de Nosara S.A.
Nosara, Costa Rica
Location:Nosara, Costa Rica
Average cost per day:
Focus: Animal care and Conservation
Skills needed: Volunteers must be at least 21 years old