Volunteer Work, Animal Welfare
near Puyo, Pastaza Province, Amazon
year-round, flexible start and end dates between Sunday and Thursday.
This volunteer project takes place in a sanctuary for wild animals that have been victims of illegal animal trafficking and those saved from inappropriate living conditions mostly in private households. The staff rescues animals, rehabilitates them and, ideally, releases them back into their natural habitat. You will work directly in the local natural environment, and your support as a volunteer in Ecuador contributes greatly to the ongoing efforts of this project. You will experience nature and animals up-close while contributing to their protection and conservation. The project also cooperates with local indigenous communities.
Although the work of the animal rescue center may appear miniscule, the efforts they carry out are very important. The Amazon jungle in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil, and other fragile ecosystems in Central America, Mexico, Argentina, and Paraguay, have become sources of wild species trafficking. Reptiles, panthers, parrots, boa and python snakes, monkeys, birds, and butterflies are just some of the wildlife species in danger of extinction due to human abuse.
Although the illegal trade of wildlife is regulated in many countries, an estimated one-third of the annual 25-billion-dollar industry of animal sales is illegal - an illicit business surpassed only by arms and drugs trafficking. The situation is absolutely heart-breaking.
The Amazon Jungle is the world's largest rainforest and has the most diverse flora and fauna on earth. Animal trafficking is destroying the delicate ecosystem in the Amazon at a time, when the rainforest is already facing an increasing threat due to deforestation caused by controversial plans for new roads, gas pipelines, and other development projects as well as fires.
The animal rescue center in Ecuador cares for about 70 animals (number subject to change!), including monkeys, such as the Squirrel Monkey, Woolly Monkey, Titi Monkey, and Capuchin Monkeys. There also are Peccaries (musk-hog), and other carnivores, like the Coati, Tayra, and Kinkajou.
Furthermore, there are tortoises, snakes, turkeys, and many species of parrots, including Macaws and Toucans. An average week for a volunteer involves cleaning cages and feeding the animals and, if needed, constructing and maintaining cages and enclosures. There are also enrichment projects where you are encouraged to spend a couple of days observing the behavior of your favourite animal. You can then build a toy for the animal in order to observe how it is used and how it benefits the animal. This work is valuable to the animals, as it relieves the boredom of their captivity and is a contribution that volunteers really enjoy. Since the volunteers must develop these enrichment projects themselves, it is important that they are proactive and creative. As a volunteer in Ecuador, it’s important that you have the desire to work outdoors and a passion for animals.
You are responsible for the welfare and day-to-day care of the animals and facilities. In addition to daily feeding and cleaning duties, volunteers will also take part in construction and maintenance work to improve the animal’s living conditions. If you have experience in any area of conservation or have veterinary experience, the center would greatly benefit from your knowledge and participation in this project.
The rescue center will try to accommodate any interests that you have. The volunteers are a great support for the local staff. All ideas or suggestions from volunteers are welcome, and many have been implemented in the past. The more time and effort you are willing to put into this project, the more will get back in return!
Typically, you will work Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 12 pm, and from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm (subject to changes!). On Saturdays, a couple of hours are required to clean the volunteer house and feed the animals, and then you are free for the weekend to explore the surroundings. Please keep in mind that the work schedule may vary depending on the number of volunteers in the project, climate, and other special situations. Volunteers should be flexible and lend a hand where needed. Days off and free time should be discussed as a team, keeping in mind not only one’s personal interests, but also those of the project, other volunteers, and supervisors.
During your stay, you will gain unique experience working with animals that need your help, dedication, and love. In addition, you will enjoy spending your days in a friendly, cozy environment in the beautiful outdoors of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Amongst volunteers and the staff, you will surely find friendship, companionship, time to rest, and plenty of laughs, making memories for a lifetime.
Note: The tasks may vary. They depend on factors such as number of volunteers, weather, season, current needs of the project, as well as self-motivation. Not every volunteer may be fully involved in all these tasks.
The volunteer accommodations in this project in Ecuador are in wooden bungalows with dorm style rooms. The bungalows have showers (only cold water), which feel like a real luxury after a hard day's work. Separated from the dorms is a kitchen and living room. The kitchen is fully stocked and has a gas oven and filtered drinking water on tap. The living room has sofas and chairs to relax and a book exchange is available as well. Outside, there are comfortable hammocks in a thatched area.
Volunteers take turns to wash up, clean the house, etc. In the evenings, the volunteers cook, eat and chat together. Vegetarians join the project regularly, so the project is able to adapt to different people's preferences. All volunteers get together to make a food list (basic items) for the week that accommodates everyone's taste and then the items are provided. Specific things, such as beverages and snacks, have to be bought by everyone on their own. Please keep in mind that you live directly in the Amazon Jungle, so no luxuries should be expected!
The center only has electricity by a gas generator. Therefore, electricity will only be available for a couple of hours each day. There is no Internet access at the center or volunteer house due the project’s remote location in the jungle. The next town with internet access is Puyo, about an hour per bus away. Cellphone connection is available.
The animal rescue center is located in Colonia Bolivar, an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian rainforest, 22 miles outside of the town of Puyo and approximately 6-7 hours southeast of Quito. It provides breath-taking panoramas of the Amazon jungle and is the perfect base for an unforgettable stay and cultural immersion experience in Ecuador.
Puyo is located in the province of Pastaza, in the eastern part of the country. It is a small colonial town with a population of approximately 30,000 people. It provides touristic infrastructure since in recent years, tourism has become increasingly important, especially in the field of ecotourism and adventure tourism. So, Puyo is one of the most commercial towns in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
The local village of El Triunfo is located 15 minutes away by bus from the project site and has very basic shops, and a couple of bars. For restaurants, supermarkets, and Internet, volunteers need to travel to Puyo. Some people in the local community also run small shops in their homes for specific needs or cravings.
The region has tropical climate with rainfall all year round and on average 25 °C during the day and 17 °C during the night, so although the animal rescue center is in the Amazon rainforest, you will not feel suffocated by the heat. The rainiest months are August to December and March.
The area around Puyo is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts: Not only do you live in the middle of pristine nature, but there is also a lot to discover in your free time! The hot springs of Baños de Agua Santa are not far away and invite you to take a relaxing bath. The way there itself is a highlight: Just an hour from Puyo you will find the spectacular "Devil's Gorge" (Pailón del Diablo). Here you can take an almost vertical hike over breathtaking stairs and come to a stand next to or above a waterfall that thunders down into the gorge.
Daring ones can swing over the jungle via canopy and go trekking to the active volcano Tungurahua on the weekend. If you love nature, the region will delight you!
In our Wildlife & Nature projects, our volunteers get along well with English language skills.
For optimal program preparation and cultural integration in the destination country, we recommend participating in a Spanish course in Ecuador (optional).
Pre-departure and in-country support
Before arrival, our experienced team will be at your disposal to assist you throughout the booking process and travel planning. With the booking confirmation you will receive our 24-hour emergency number, so that you can reach us 24/7 in case of emergency.
In addition to the assistance given by our office staff you will be supported by the on-site volunteer coordinator in Ecuador.
Costs & Services
Our volunteer project in the Animal Rescue Center in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador includes:
- Shared room in Volunteer House
- Full board
- Professional English-speaking advice
- Translation of your application documents
- Volunteer Work Placement in Ecuador
- English-speaking in-country support
- Country handbook Ecuador
- Intercultural guideline
- 24/7 emergency number
- Information about suitable travel insurance
- Certificate of participation
Application fee: US$ 150
Program fee: US$ 500 (minimum stay 2 weeks)
Extra week: US$ 145
Additionally, you can book:
Our tips (experience more + see more = save $$)
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All our stay abroad programs can be combined with each other: So, you can combine different volunteer projects in the same country or in different countries, or you mix Working Holiday with volunteer work or Farm Stay with Working Holiday ...and so on …
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