Volunteer at Zoorefugio Tarqui in Ecuador

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Volunteer in a zoo in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Work hands on with our animals including feeding our Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots and our various species of Monkeys, be involved in enrichment programs for our resident animals and designing and building new enclosures. You also have the opportunity to complete research, be involved in our conservation, education and tourism work, learn Spanish, go on jungles tours and visit local communities and shaman. We offer quality accommodation and 3 meals a day. Spanish is not required and volunteers are asked to stay a minimum of 2 weeks.

A large part of the zoo's work involves working closely with the Ministry of Environment to rescue animals that have fallen victim to illegal wildlife trade and attempt to release as many animals into the wild as we can as part of our wider conservation work as well improving the quality of life of the individuals we are unable to release.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing unbeatable experience.

I Travelled all over South America volunteering in various animal refugees and this for me was the best!

Not only are you involved in very hands on animal work you really do experience true Ecuadorian life living with an amazingly friendly family. The staff who work at the zoo are very friendly and helpfully even if your Spanish is none existent you can still form great friendships.

After a month of volunteering i found it very hard to leave and i am still in contact with the zoo and fellow volunteers.

I enjoyed my experience so much that I cant wait to return and i am currently saving to return as soon as possible!!

What would you improve about this program?
a few aspects of the zoo are not up to the standard on english zoos, but are still alot better than other zoos i saw and they are constantly using funds to improve the living standards of the animals.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A great hands on experience

I went to Tarqui not really knowing what to expect and I came away having had an awesome experience and having learnt a lot.

The zoo is principally a center for animals that have been rescued from trafficing and the zoo provides the funding for this as well as the money from donations, fundraising and the volunters. They do not recieve any help from the governement as they cannot release most of the animals as they have become domesticated or are injured. Where they can they release animals but this is a process and they are not willing to release an animal unless they are certain that it will thrive.

There is lots to do on a daily basis however when I was there there were only 2 of us and as more people came the work load decreases. However, as I was constantly reminded ´you are in Ecuador!´ which is Ecuadorian for ´Chill out´. Everything is pretty relaxed there as it is throughout South America.
The jobs include feeding the animals, cleaning the cages, checking for health issues, keeping the zoo clean and tidy, helping the vet, building enclosures, monitoring the jaguars (or other conservation work) and Fanny and William are always looking for ways to improve the tourism aspect of the zoo and help fund their cause.

The work

You get 1 day off a week and they ask that you dont take this at the weekend as that is their buisiest time. (what I did was leave it for a week then have 2 days off the next week so that I could go stay somewhere for a couple of days).

Breakfast is from 7ish to 8 ish when the morning rounds start. We usually ate croissant or bread with pineapple marmalade but you can cook whatever you fancy. There is lots of juice.
Lunch break is 2 hours from 12 to 2ish so enough time for a siesta in the hammock. Lunch is usually a broth or soup to start. Meat, salad, rice, potatoes and pasta for main. Lots of carbs here. Dont be surprised if you have spaghetti bolognaise as a topping for your rice.
Work finishes between 4 and 5.
You are going to get lots of hands on animal experience and handling. And you are going to get really dirty. Thankfully the house has really nice hot showers so you can wash off the papaya and bird poo and get ready for the evening.

Puyo is big and there is a fair ammount to do. There are bars and places to go out for meals and dancing. They do a leathal 90% proof sugar tequila here which is totally horrible and I would absoultely recommend it if thats what you fancy, which I do. They make it into a lovely mojito style drink for those of you that dont like shuddering after your drink. Basically the night life is what you make it you can chill out or party, the options are open. The Ecuadorains are lovely and you will not be short of things to do.

One thing I will say is take the time to learn some Spanish. Seriously. I didnt and I spent a lot of time that I could have been spending chatting and enjoying myself being confused and silent. Few people here speak English. There are neighbouring tourist towns like Baños where everyone does but here you are thrown in the deep end. Bring lots of clothes as every day your clothes will be dirty (they have a laundry service).

Come with an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in with both the lifestyle and the work and you will not only have a fantastic time but participate in somtheing that makes a difference.

One last thing. They have a pet called Ponky. He is one of the rarest animals that the least is known about on the planet and is like a pet dog a - perro de montain. He will bite your boots, dont be fooled by the cute squeeks.

What would you improve about this program?
I should have learnt spanish.

It was quite hard to see so many animals in cages that in England would be considered too small. But this place needs funding to expand eveything.

I also really couldnt cope with feeding the live chickens to the pumas. Pumas are sweet to scratch through the cage but I hate Pumas now.

I should have brought more clothes. I was going travelling afterwards and I packed light so I bought clothes here.

Im not really much of a carbs person and I found the ammount of carbs and oil a bit overwhelming for my stomach but I got used to it.
1 person found this review helpful.