Orphan Care and Veterinary Internship in Costa Rica

Work on the frontline of wildlife conservation in a wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica

This is the ideal internship for a veterinary student with a passion for wildlife conservation. You’ll travel to one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and work on the day-to-day treatment of sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife.

This internship places you in a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica. This region has 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity and has areas with the highest animal density in the world. This nonprofit wildlife sanctuary works to rescue and treat animals that have been injured, domesticated, abused, or disabled, ultimately aiming to release them back into the wild. In cases, when the animal can’t be released, the sanctuary also serves as a refuge. The clinic sees mammals, birds, and reptiles from an array of species each day, and provides life-saving wildlife care.

As an intern, your role will be to assist in the day-to-day care of animals in the sanctuary. You’ll attend to the care and upkeep of the animals in the nursery, and rehabilitation areas, and assist with examinations and procedures of new intakes too. You’ll gain unbelievable first-hand experience treating and caring for a diverse range of Costa Rican wildlife. You’ll develop extensive knowledge of a variety of wildlife, and build a deep skillset in veterinary surgery and animal care, all while contributing to being a valuable asset to Costa Rican wildlife conservation.


Based in Costa Rica, this nonprofit organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of wildlife in the Alturas region of the Puntarenas province. This area loses a lot of its wildlife due to road accidents, electrocutions, domestic animal attacks, and the pet trade.

The organization runs a 24/7 veterinary clinic where they treat injured, sick, or orphaned animals with the primary goal being to release them. In cases where re-release isn’t possible when the animal has been domesticated or disabled, the sanctuary also serves as a refuge. Established in 2014, they have already established themselves as a valuable asset to conservation efforts in the region and have saved over 2000 animals.


Your days will be spent on a mix of animal care duties in the nursery, rehabilitation and quarantine areas of the sanctuary and shadowing veterinary staff. The exact focus of your internship can be personalized to accommodate your individual interests and skills but you can expect to gain experience in a wide range of tasks and duties.

What you’ll do

Your duties will include:

  • Assisting and observing animal emergencies and triage
  • Observing and assisting with animal surgeries
  • Training in necropsies and ultimately completing them independently
  • Administering anesthesia for surgery and delivering medicines
  • Honing critical care skills like bandaging techniques, inserting catheters for an IV, suturing, and fluid therapy
  • Assisting with physiotherapy for the wildlife
  • Assisting with animal husbandry in the sanctuary
  • Preparing diets for the different nutritional needs of different animals
  • Writing reports and managing bookkeeping
  • Facilitating weekly educational lectures and workshops
  • Must be studying towards or have completed a degree in veterinary studies, biology or a related field
  • Two academic and/or professional references
  • Ideally prior experience in wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary work, or animal husbandry
  • A passion for wildlife conservation and community outreach work
  • Hardworking and responsible
  • Strong team player
  • Public speaking
  • Fluent English language skills are required, Spanish is a bonus


The organization is situated in the biological corridor that connects the Pacific Rainforest to the Osa Peninsula. This area houses 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity and contains the highest density in the world. The accommodation for this internship provides an up-close experience of one of the most exciting, and scientifically significant ecosystems on the planet.

Interns will stay in the Wildlife Sanctuary’s on-site volunteer house. Here, you’ll enjoy private or shared bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen, laundry services and Wifi. Monday-Friday, you’ll have all your meals with the Sanctuary, and over the weekend, you’ll be provided with groceries to cook. You’ll also be able to enjoy a range of outdoor activities like surfing, yoga, hiking, and waterfall tours.


Arrival always on Wednesday or Sunday (mid day to 8PM). The exact start and end dates will be discussed with you during the selection process.

What you’ll pay (2024 fees)

4 weeks USD 2,006
6 weeks USD 2,668
8 weeks USD 3,302
10 weeks USD 3,910
12 weeks USD 4,493

What you are paying for:
  • Careful matchmaking. It takes time to find the right internship for each person, and we take this process very seriously.
  • Initial interview with one of our team to gauge your skills, interests, and desired learning outcomes.
  • An academic internship eligible for university credit. Check with your university to confirm if this internship qualifies for credit or alternatively we can assist you with purchasing transfer credits.
  • Accommodation based on a double room. Please contact us if you are interested in an upgrade to a single room or accommodation with aircon.
  • Three vegetarian meals a day from Monday to Sunday (NB. During the week a chef will prepare lunch and dinner for you, during the weekend you prepare your own meals using food provided)
  • Wifi access
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement and other preparations
  • An orientation program with your supervisor
  • Supervision and support during your stay
  • Regular check-ins during your internship with your supervisor
  • Troubleshooting if needed
  • A reference letter at the end of your internship
  • Flights to Juan Santa Maria Airport
  • Transfer from the airport to the organization (private taxi, shuttle bus, or public bus)
  • Visa and medical/travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing)
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities
Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
Animal Welfare  and Conservation NGO
Veterinary Assistance, Reporting, Animal Care 
4-12 Weeks
From USD 2,006
  • Gain international experience in a nonprofit context
  • Receive practical training in animal surgery and veterinary work
  • Build an expansive knowledge of Costa Rican wildlife and ecosystems
  • Contribute to a valuable wildlife conservation work
  • Live and work in Costa Rica
4 WEEKS USD 2,006
8 WEEKS USD 3,302
12 WEEKS USD 4,493

See Detailed Rates



If you’re ready to apply for this internship, here’s what to do:


Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) which includes sharing your CV to us


We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.


If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.


If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, getting started with the booking process and all the info you need.


Only once we receive payment of the deposit your placement will be confirmed.


Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this internship first, just fill in the contact form below. We’ll be happy to assist!


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