I was in two projects in Costa Rica. On the one hand I worked in the Jaguar Rescue Center, on the other hand in Reserva Playa Tortuga.
The two projects were very different. The first two months I was in the Jaguar Rescue Center.
My duties consisted of cleaning the cages of the sloths and birds, bringing food to the animals, also taking care of the rats and mice (on a volunteer basis), raking, sweeping, doing laundry, watching the birds, watching the baby sloths, and my personal highlight: playing with the baby monkeys.
The longer you are there, the more responsibility you get and your wishes are taken care of. You get to make things happen. You can turn cages into a jungle with banana leaves and hibiscus, feed baby monkeys with bananas, and catch all kinds of animals trying to escape (get creative).
Reserva Playa Tortuga, on the other hand, was a reserve. There were no cages and one did not have so much direct contact with the animals. The animals were observed and everything was recorded in writings. People would often go on hikes and count the different species of birds or walk along the beach looking for parrots. The reserve also had a butterfly garden and sometimes they went to the jungle looking for bats.
There are boat tours to look for crocodiles and night tours to catch caimans and snakes to measure and weigh them.
The main activity is working with the turtles, if it is turtle season. At night, the beach is patrolled to locate egg-laying sea turtles. The eggs are then buried in a large nest which must be checked several times a day so that the baby turtles can be released into the sea after having hatched.
At the beginning of both projects I was alone with another volunteer and towards the end we were a group of 15 people of all ages and different backgrounds. Working together was a lot of fun and you can easily improve your Spanish, French and English speaking skills. And even if there are difficulties with communication, you always understand each other and have fun together. Both times I stayed in a hostel. This is the best thing you can do because you are on site. You are constantly surrounded by animals and you can have a much closer connection with the team and the other workers and volunteers, even in your free time.
My assignment was very useful. Since I was in both projects for about two months, I had a lot of responsibility and did work alone, taking care of the animals and getting to know new volunteers. I dedicated these 4 months to the animals and tried to help them as much as possible.
But the special moments are with the animals, when you manage to make them happy and see how they react to your work - the bird that is suddenly lively again because you have turned its cage into a land of milk and honey, the sloth that is happy about the hibiscus flower, the baby turtles that swim towards the sunrise or the baby monkeys that immediately jump on you when you come into their cage. Then they won't let you go. You can't leave the cage until they fall asleep.