Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Volunteer with Wildlife Ecuador



We have a dynamic team of people who encourages volunteers to help think of ways we can improve the park. We are currently caring for well over 100 animals, including: capuchin, tamarin, red howler and woolly monkeys; many species of parrots and macaws; kinkajous and other small mammals; and sometimes felines. Because rehabilitation is an important part of what we do, the group of animals we look after often changes, with animals being released or moved to other refuges, depending on the care and environment they need. In general we have around 10 to 15 volunteers from all over the world at any one time. Our rehabilitation work has a strict hands-off policy for most of its animals! As we try to focus on rehabilitation, it is very important to minimize any human interaction with the animals, as this is the first vital step towards their rehabilitation. Animal care is rewarding work but certainly not a picnic in the park. We feed the animals three times per day. The feeding rounds take between 2 to 3 hours each time. In the morning, we gather at 7.30am to prepare the animals food, and then we divide into groups to clean different animal cages and feed the animals. After the feeding, we take time to prepare breakfast and get ready for the rest of the day. Some people will feed the parrots and nocturnal animals, while others are on projects such as animal life enrichment, general park maintenance and chores. Lunch is around 1.30pm. We gather to feed the mammals again at 3pm, after which there is time to hang out with other volunteers, enjoy the scenery, swim at the waterfall or river, or relax in a hammock. Volunteers work 5 1/2 days per week, alternating free days. Sundays are so called lazy Sundays in which we feed the animals only once a day and do chores, but no other work is done, leaving plenty of time to relax or enjoy the surroundings. Once a week we try to organize a communal activity too, either doing a project in the centre or visiting a place outside the centre. Most volunteers stay in our 6-sided jungle abode, which consists of a large dorm-style room, housing up to 11 volunteers. For volunteers staying long term there might be space in a cabin too. There is also a large deck area where we usually eat our meals, relax in hammocks, or strike up a game of cards. Our bathroom facilities are next to the volunteer house, and consist of composting toilets and our famously hot showers. People make their own breakfast and lunch, but take turns in preparing the communal dinner. In the Amazon, the weather runs from brilliantly sunny to downright wet (it is the rainforest), so we recommend raingear and clothes you can layer (and liquorice or chocolate if you really want to get in good with the managers). We provide gum boots and working clothes, as well as linen and blankets. If you are prone to chilliness, we recommend bringing a sleeping bag for extra comfort. There is no electricity in the centre but we provide candles. A flashlight or headlight is necessary for the dark jungle nights. The longer people stay, the smoother the centre runs. That is why our fees are lower when more time is spent at the centre. Occasionally we have openings for long-term volunteers to help us with training new volunteers and the day to day running of the park. People who we have worked with before, or have been here for a while, take priority. We live at the reserve, which is a 15-minute taxi ride from the town of Mera. Any bus towards Puyo will pass by Mera's central square from where you can take a green and white pick-up taxi, called Transmera to the centre. Contact: merazonia@mail.com  WhatsApp: +593984213789.


Merazonia Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre

Mera, Pastaza

None, but all extra skills will be taken into account! Also open for people with interest in construction and maintenance

Dates of program:
Year round

Duration of program:
2-4 weeks minimum (depending on time of year)

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+

We do not receive any government funding. For the wellbeing of the animals we do not receive tourists in the centre either. Therefore, we depend on volunteer fees to cover the basic costs of running the centre. Currently, this fee is US$160 per week for the first three weeks, which covers lodging and food. It also includes a contribution to medical supplies and animal food. For those staying longer, the fee for weeks 4-6 is US$140 per week and every week thereafter, the fee is US$115 per week.

Other information:
We are open to student projects. We also always need people working in construction.


Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
"This is a magical place where I finally reconnect with Mother Nature and with myself. Volunteering work: The well-being of the animals is their first priority - they have a strict hands-off policy and do not accept tourists. Work is physical but manageable and no special skills or knowledge required. Animals do pee and poo (like we do), so cage cleaning connotes picking up their faeces (gloves are provided). I stayed for 4 weeks and was lucky to have a chance to take care of some baby monkeys. When I was there, the centre was planning the release of a group of woolly monkeys. It's really rewarding and touching to know that after years of combined effort of many coordinators and volunteers, the animals can finally return to where they truly belong. Facilities: Their hot shower is AMAZING! They use composting toilets, which do have smell but they are cleaned every day. Kitchen is fully equipped and there are a variety of food, fruits, spices, sauces and tea. You are in luck if you happen to be volunteering with a group of French or a baker! Short-term volunteers live in dormitory, it's basic but the sheets and blankets provided are clean, and NO bunk beds! No electricity, but they have a generator and you can charge your phone and cameras twice a week. Work clothes and gum boots are provided but you would still need your rain gear (it's called rainforest for a reason). Well, I actually gave up wearing raincoat / keeping myself dry after a while. For personal clothes, I took them to laundry shop in town once a week because it basically takes forever for clothes to dry in the jungle ;) If you are attractive to mosquitoes, brace yourself. Natural mosquito repellent and anti-itch cream are your best friends. A volunteer suggested bringing or buying skin allergy pills (if you are particularly sensitive). People: People are amazing here! You got to meet a lot of smart, interesting and kind-hearted people who love animals and nature. The founders' and the coordinators' devotion to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation are truly respectable."- Cheng Wai Ting
An amazing experience!
"I first visited this project about 5 years ago, and I fell in love. Most recently, I went back for a second time and spent 6 months there. It's a great organization. It is not open to the public, so it 100% relies on volunteers. It is an amazing experience living in a cloud forest surrounded by nature and good people. Would 100% recommend."- Andrea Burkholder
Amazing experience!!
"When I was thinking about an experience that would be grounding, empowering, full of compassion and connection, I did not think that it would be in Ecuador. A friend of mine volunteered with this organization six years ago and upon telling her how unhappy I felt in a previous job, she said, why not volunteer with them? I spent four incredible weeks connecting with humans from all around the world who cared just as much (if not more) with how animals should be treated and rehabilitated. This organization values as little direct animal-to-human contact in order to preserve the animals best interest and ability to return to their natural environments. I felt humbled on a daily basis by seeing how bringing fresh leaves, fresh food and positive energy to the animals made a positive impact to their lives, many of which had been traumatized by humans who either kept them captive or who murdered their relatives, leaving them to try and survive. The weeks I spent here were life-changing and I plan on returning in the future to be a part of something bigger than myself. I fell in love with the simplicity of staying here and focusing on the well-being of all the animals. Focusing on lives other than my families or my own provided me with a sense of purpose I had not felt in a long time. I recommend this project as a place to find peace, connection and love of humans and animals!!"- Irina Rasner
Best Decision Ever!!!
"I went here not really knowing what to expect, having never worked with animals, or even owning a pet. It quickly became the best decision I ever made. The people are very welcoming and with a vast array of nationalities and experiences, there are many stories to tell and hear about. Also, working with the animals is very satisfying as you quickly become attached to their personalities and characters. The longer you stay and the harder you work, the more responsibilities you get and with it more satisfaction. I was lucky enough to be asked to take Nakane up to the Woolly Monkey release cage, for the release project. I was originally going to stay for 4 weeks, but ended up staying 6 weeks and it would have been longer had life allowed it. Without a doubt you will gain memories and friendships for a lifetime."- Jonathan Seekings
Best place on Earth!!!!
"I have been here twice, and it's the most magical place I have ever laid eyes on. The people are amazing especially the main Coordinators Louisa and Frank. Everyone is very hardworking and working towards the safety and health of all the animals that arrive and live until they're able to be released back into the wild. If I had to put this project on a scale from 1-10 it would be a 15! Because this place is more then amazing."- Sibyl Major
Best wildlife refugee center!
"I had the best time here!! The people there are amazing and they truly devote their lives to the rehabilitation of Ecuadorian wildlife. All volunteers work, hangout and eat together which creates a really nice environment. I ended up extended my stay with two months and even after those two extra months didn't want to leave this magical place."- Kaya De Reede

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