Wildlife Sanctuary Veterinary Internship

Esparza City - Costa Rica

Only 720€ per week!

Care for birds, mammals and reptiles in an animal sanctuary before they are released into the wild or kept within the sanctuary for protection.

During your time at the project, you will assist the local veterinarian in residence in caring for injured animals of various species. These animals will later be released into the wild if possible. Your tasks will vary depending on your level of experience.

Community Engagement
Physical Demand


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Program Description

You will be working with local staff as they care for animals in the animal sanctuary. These are either former pets which were illegally kept, or injured animals, taken to the sanctuary by the government. The intention is to release them to the wild. This placement is very much what you make it. There is a vet in residence two days per week, but they are in need of assistance. They will leave tasks to be completed in their absence. There is a basic theatre for minor operations. Obviously, the level of your involvement will depend on your experience and knowledge. With the vet you will review exam results and feeding and medicine routines. You may also euthanize animals if necessary. Without the vet you will be performing exams, administering medicine and monitoring progress. You must be flexible to the needs of the centre. The owner and others are experienced, but not qualified, in caring for the animals.

What we offer

  • Guaranteed internship placement with assigned project and professional work environment.
  • Guaranteed Spanish and English language working environment .
  • Guaranteed 25+ working hours per week (4 or 5 days a week, depending on the requirements of the intern’s educational institution). If there are emergencies, the hours can be long while you care for injured animals. 
  • Learningful and meaningful internship/ work assignments that are relevant to the interns field of study
  • A predefined professional role for the intern.
  • Guidance, Supervision and on the job training.
  • Frequent (bi-weekly/monthly) feedback and progress sessions with the hosting company/ organization.
  • 24 hour in-country Support (emergency phone number).
  • Welcome and pick-up at the airport.
  • Accommodation, max 2 – 4 pax per room, in an international environment with other interns and like minded people.
  • A proper (physical) workplace for the intern at the accommodation.
  • Three meals per day provided
  • The accommodation and the internship placement is in the same sanctuary. Your accommodation is surrounded by nature.

Aims & Objectives

The overriding aim is to rehabilitate injured animals and release them into the wild. Your veterinary experience will be invaluable in caring for injured birds, mammals and reptiles.


Monday to Friday

Your schedule will be flexible, but you should be prepared to be active for 4-8 hours a day. You will have lunch with your local co-workers and pax and can expect to be occupied between 09:00 in the morning until just before 16:00, depending on your schedule, giving you plenty of time to immerse yourself in the project and to get to know co-workers.

The project site and accommodation is near a small town, and near Puntarenas.

   Note:   When confirming your dates please take note of Public Holidays in the Holidays section. During such times, there may be disruption to the programme, as we work with local organisations, and so must be flexible to their needs .

   Note:   This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Participant Criteria & Requirements

Standard Requirements

Minimum age:

Maximum age:

Minimum English level: Intermediate

CRB required: On Signup

Passport copy required: On Signup

Resume copy required: On Signup

Required qualification: Intermediate Spanish

Additional Requirements

  • You must be interested in the work and ready to get your hands dirty! This placement is aimed at those who have a good level of scientific knowledge.
  • Internship requirements from the educational institution (if applicable)
  • Proof of qualifications (if applicable)
  • You must be willing to bring biodegradable toiletries. As you are staying in a sanctuary, everything must be environmentally friendly.

***We require a CV and letter of motivation, either in Spanish or English. The placement is not confirmed until the CV is accepted by our partner organization.***

Additional Equipment

  • Casual dress is appropriate during your time on the project. Please be aware that your clothes will get dirty. Closed shoes are essential.


Esparza is a medium-sized agricultural town nestled amongst the mountains above Rio Barranca, in the Central Pacific Coast area of Costa Rica. The area was first settled by the Chorotega and Huetar peoples. The Chorotega people fled from Mexico 1,500 years ago and brought their traditions with them. This is a possible reason why there are Mexican words which jump several countries and turn up again in Costa Rica.

The Spanish town was founded in 1577, making it the second oldest in the country. It has a rich history which includes legends of hidden pirate gold. Esparza is the second largest canton in the province of Puntarenas, covering an area of 216.80 km², and with a population of approximately 35,000.

The pace of life is relaxed. It is not unusual to see horses being ridden in the street. The town itself is off the tourist trail. However, the nearest beach for surf and relaxation is only 20 mins (14kms) away. Within a distance of 25 kilometers, you can also find canopy tours as well as the world-famous attractions of Puntarenas, including a marine park and a newly renovated marina. Likewise, the nearest national park, Carara, is only an hour’s drive away.

About the Accommodation

During your internship, you will be placed in a sanctuary where there will be 1-2 persons in each room. Your accommodation includes running water and furnishing, which will be included in your program.

The accommodation is located in an existing established business environment of multiple (international) organisation and companies, Expats and English speaking professionals with the possibility for the intern to interact with.

Food Arrangements

Three meals a day on weekdays (two on weekends) are included during your stay. The meals will mainly be a mix of traditional and modern Costa Rican food, so you may experience the Costa Rican take on foods you will be familiar with. Most meals will include either fish, chicken, pork or beef, but vegetarians can be catered for.


There are shops within 300 metres of the centre, and bars, restaurants, and an excellent public pool within 15 minutes walk. There is an ATM within 1km and more ATMs in town, about 2kms. Buses into town and further afield leave from within 300ms of the centre.

Esparza and the surrounding area has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants within easy reach.

Activities & Events

No scheduled activities outside the program.

Sights & Surroundings

Esparza and Puntarenas have plenty to offer for weekend activities, including horse riding, watersports (surf is huge), game fishing, canopy tours, hotels to suit all budgets, and some of the best scenery in the world. Puntarenas is also ideally suited to take a scenic ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula and its many secluded beaches.

Esparza is on the Panamerican Highway, so access to the rest of Costa Rica and the rest of the American continent is at your doorstep.


From this location we do not provide free transport to other locations.

Quick Facts

Name: Republic of Costa Rica

Population: 4.8 million

Capital: San José

Language: Spanish

Currency: Costa Rican Colón (CRC)

Time zone: UTC -6

Country Information

Pura vida (“real life”) has become the unofficial motto of Costa Rica. And for a reason. Costa Rica is, in essence, a slice of tropical paradise in Central America, and its inhabitants, AKA “the ticos”, are justifiably proud of it. Perfect waves for surfing, breathtaking sunsets, misty crater lakes, waterfall-filled hiking trails, white-water rapids, sun-kissed beaches, adventure-filled paths and wildlife that includes howler monkeys, capuchins and other friendly-looking animals await you in this small, yet magnificently varied country.


Costa Rica has a reputation for being a tropical paradise, and rightly so. However, due to its diverse terrain, the country boasts a range of different climates.

Costa Rica has no real summer or winter due to its proximity to the equator, and the average temperature ranges from 21°C to 27°C. However, a rainy season does exist, and takes place between May and November. The central valley is often cooler than the coastal areas.

The Pacific coast tends to be hot and dry all year-round, especially the northern part (known as the Gold Coast), while the highlands (around Monteverde) are filled with mist during much of the year, due to the high altitude. The Caribbean coast is quite hot and moist, and receives rain during most of the year. The lowlands have quite a warm climate, with an average temperature of 26°C, and the Central Valley, including San José, is said to have the best climate in the country.


Costa Rican culture, as in most Latin American countries, is heavily influenced by Spain, as a result of colonization. However, parts of the country have other strong influences, such as that of Limón, which has more of a Jamaican feel to it. There are also several indigenous areas throughout the country.

A great part of the music and folklore of Costa Rica comes from the north of the country, where Mayan culture mixes with Afro-Caribbean trends. Costa Rica has a distinctive musical genre known as punto and most of its music can be easily distinguished by a very unique rhythm known as tambito.

Costa Rica goes by the motto Pura Vida, which means “pure life” and the phrase can be used as a greeting or a farewell, or just to say “that’s great” or “all’s good”. The phrase was originally from a Mexican film, but was soon adopted by Costa Ricans, and is used in several contexts to express a positive outlook on life.


The cuisine of Costa Rica relies heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fish and meat. Rice and black beans are traditional and included in most meals. Potatoes are another staple of Costa Rican gastronomy as wells as plantain, a member of the banana family.

Due to the tropical location of the country, you will be able to find many exotic fruits that you might have never heard of before!

Due to the amount of tourism that Costa Rica boasts, international food is offered in many sites – from Japanese to Mexican to Peruvian.



Two domestic airlines (NatureAir and Sansa) connect major tourist towns

Shared shuttle

Shared shuttles are available to popular destinations on a daily basis and they will pick you up from your accommodation and return you, making them the most stress-free option.


Traveling by public bus is the most affordable way to get around Costa Rica. It can be time-consuming for many Costa Ricans, as many routes are based in and out of San José. However, Esparza is 1.5 hrs away from San Jose by direct bus, and Puntarenas has access to much of the Pacific Coast by bus, so Esparza is well situated for bus transport to the whole country and beyond.


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