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Animal Rescue Centre - Ecuador

POSTED ON 21 Feb 2024
placement Details

You will be volunteering in the Amazon forest in Ecuador, getting first-hand experience on how to protect exotic and endangered animals and helping to preserve one of the most fascinating and important ecosystems in the world.

The project's mission is to ensure the well-being of the region's wild animals. To provide a safe place, medical care, and food for animals in need, all in a cage-free environment when it's possible, so animals can come and go as they please as well as quietly get used to life in nature to be reintroduced into their natural habitat when they are ready.

Main Goals

  • To nurse back to health and care for mistreated, neglected, or abandoned animals which have been the victims of trafficking.
  • To rehabilitate said animals: to re-educate them about how to survive in the wild, and to help change any maladaptive behaviour.
  • To release the animals back into the wild and give them a second chance at life.
  • To educate the local population and any visitors as to the issues surrounding illegal trafficking, the work the center does, and the ways in which they can help.
  • To create a lasting bond between the environment and the community.

Please note that at least a basic level of Spanish is required, as there is little English spoken at the project site. 


The work at the Animal Shelter can be quite varied depending on current needs and projects as well as the weather; from hard physical work to creative and educational projects or scientific research, depending on your interest, skills, and experience. We highly encourage you to take the initiative and to come up with your own fresh ideas on how to improve the Shelter and the lives of the animals and locals.

Your duties will encompass the following but will depend on the needs of the project, so don't expect to do them all:

  • To help with the preparation and distribution of the animals’ food on a daily basis.
  • To help clean the animals’ cages, also on a daily basis.
  • Helping to carry food for the animals (fruits, etc.) from the drop-off point by the river and into the fruit storage cellar.
  • To act as a guide for any visitors who come to the center.
  • To assist in constructing and/or maintaining cages when necessary.
  • To assist with the health treatment of the animals (ONLY on very particular occasions for a select few, as contact with the animals must be minimal in order for them to prepare for life back in the wild).
  • To help keep the compound clean and tidy.
  • To maintain the recycling system.
  • To help plant trees.
  • To assist with monitoring tasks by filing reports for NGO Taxi.
  • To maintain a diary of your time with the project (incl. photos and blog/experience report).
  • To obtain daily provisions, run errands, and other administrative tasks.   


You will soon learn that timekeeping and punctuality in the jungle, and South America in general, is not taken as seriously as you might be used to, which might frustrate you sometimes, so be prepared to be flexible and open minded. You will work five days a week and two days off, those days will depend on the needs of the project and are not necessarily Saturday and Sunday, but will always be consecutive days (Monday and Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday for example). This is an example of a daily schedule. The hours or the tasks might vary.

Timings                        Monday to Sunday (except your free days)

7.00 - 9.00                Work at the project

9.00 - 9.20                Breakfast          

9.20 - 13.00              Work at the project

13.00 - 14.00            Lunch break

14.00 - 16.00            Work at the project

16.00                          Free time, although sometimes there are some                                                      extra activities that need to be done, such as feeding the tapirs and checking the Kinkajous once a week.

Once a week, you and another volunteer will be responsible for making dinner for all the volunteers. Every Sunday after work the weekly volunteer meeting is held. Attendance is mandatory for all volunteers, even if it is your day off. In the meeting one discusses any upcoming changes or issues that need to be addressed, volunteers ask for canoes etc. 


The centre takes care of aprox. 300 animals which live in captivity and semi-captivity (free around the center), although this number is constantly in flux due to new animals being received and others being released. Most of the animals are not potentially liberable. That is why they are in the tourist area and are used to help share the message against wildlife trafficking with the centre’s visitors. Those that can be released are in semi-freedom around the center or in the non-tourist part to avoid human contact as much as possible. Human interaction creates stress and dependence and prevents them from having the necessary skills to survive on their own. In addition, human interaction makes them very easily hunted by illegal hunters in the wild.

The Animal Rescue Center is home to 6 different types of monkeys (wooly monkeys, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, tamarin monkeys and capuchin monkeys); coatis; tapirs; pecaris; jaguarundis (eyra cats); oncillas; parrots; turtles; snakes; caimans; and toucans.

This is a real rehabilitation center so, for security reasons and for the well-being of the animals, there is a policy of no direct contact with animals; however as a volunteer you will see the animals every day whilst cleaning, feeding or running tours.

Why can’t I interact with the animals?
The project's goal is to rehabilitate as many animals as possible, and to ensure that the permanent residents have the most dignified lives possible. Human interaction can work against these goals and make animals used to human contact. This puts them in risk of being caught by animal traffickers again.



During your time at the project, you will be living at the volunteer house, at the project center.
The house is simple but nice and tidy. You will either have a private room, a double or triple, sharing with other volunteers. The center provides sheets, blankets and pillows (although you can bring your own) but you need to bring your own towel. There is a shared bathroom with 4 toilets and 4 showers, with cold water available. There are some spare mosquito nets but it is recommended to bring your own. Although both days and nights are hot, early morning hours before sunrise can be quite chilly.
There is also a kitchen with a gas stove you can use.
There is no internet at the project site, but Wifi is available at the school which is 10 minutes walk up from the center. Additionally, there is 3G cellular phone coverage with the phone company Claro, which you can use for whatsapp or other social media to be in contact with family and friends. You will need to buy a SIM card before arriving at the project.


During the week, there is a cook who prepares breakfast and lunch, whilst dinner every day and breakfast and lunch weekends are prepared by the volunteers on a rotational basis. There is a simple kitchen, well equipped and tidy, which you can use to cook.
Food is fairly basic in the Amazon, and spices and herbs can be hard to procure or very expensive; the most frequent ingredients are pasta, rice, flour, powdered milk, eggs, meat, fruit, and vegetables. Vegetarians can easily be provided for. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and water are all included.


You will be met by your Volunteer Coordinator upon arrival in the country at either the bus station or airport and taken to your accommodation for your Spanish course. The transport from Quito to your project near Tena will also be arranged. You will find more information in your Pre-Arrival Pack should you chose to volunteer with us.



During your free time and breaks, you can go and explore the jungle, swim in the river, go and relax in Liana Lodge and use their free wifi or simply lounge in the hammocks with the rest of the volunteers and play board games or read. You have two consecutive free days, so you can also go and visit and stay in the nearby town of Tena, where you can:

  • Go rafting
  • Visit the caves of Jumandi
  • Go swimming in the blue laggon Visit indigenous communities 
  • Try local food
  • Visit a Cacao plantation
  • Much more

There are not many foreigners living in the town so you might get a lot of attention from the locals at first, but remember that you have a responsibility to be polite and respectful.


We include a 1-week full immersion FREE Spanish course because we believe that it will allow you to have a greater impact on the project, as you will be able to interact with local people and communities and share knowledge and skills. The Spanish course is catered to your project and will teach you specific vocabulary that you will need during the placement.

Your included Spanish course will take place while you stay in Quito, during the mornings, from 8.30am until 12.30pm (including one 20 minute break) from Monday to Friday. You will be studying at a very well-respected Spanish school in the center of Quito, which was founded 28 years ago and includes a staff of well-trained and experienced professors, all with university degrees in linguistics or literature. You will be in a class of 2-6 people, all at your language level. Additional free activities that the school offers includes salsa and cookery classes, in addition to offering excursions to local attractions (at an additional cost).

You should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations when traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel. Routine vaccinations include:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) 
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis
  • Polio

Required travel vaccinations include: 

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow Fever

Please make sure that you have up-to-date vaccinations for all of these diseases. NGO Taxi cannot be held responsible for the provision of vaccinations for their volunteers. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure that they have followed up-to-date medical advice.

In Ecuador, you are granted a 90 day visitors visa upon entry to the country, and it is possible to get a visa for an extended stay (90 more days) once you are here only with your passport. If you want to stay more than 180 days, you have to get a temporary resident visa, as a volunteer, a student, or a professional. These require certain type of documents you will have to bring from your own country, so if you are planning on staying more than 180 days, you have to plan ahead. Take a look at this website to find out more about the documents you will need for a temporary residency:

Start Dates: 
1st and 3rd Sunday each month. 

Individual Start Dates:
+ € 150,00 – Start your placement any Sunday of the month.
+ € 250,00 – Choose your own start dates and change them up to 3 times before your trip.

€ 1349,00 – 1st month
€ 1299,00 – 2nd month
€ 1249,00 – 3rd month, and after.

There are special prices if you want to come and volunteer with a partner or friend. Please contact the organisation.


"I volunteered at the Animal Rescue Center located in the jungle, Napo province. Here I lived in the project’s volunteer house within a lovely nature reserve, containing many birds and monkeys amongst other animals. I worked observing and conserving the wildlife at the Center. If your Spanish isn’t good, this is a place to learn because everyone is willing to help you learn fast! Basically relax and enjoy, speak as much Spanish as possible and always ask for advice while doing the work. Every day you feed the animals, but the group tasks change daily. One day you will pick fruits and vegetables for the meals, the next day you will clean cages or work in the local greenhouse, and other days you can help with the construction of new cages for the rescued animals. I think is important to say that this place is not a zoo, it’s a ‘Rescue Center,’ meaning that its purpose is to rescue animals that have been abused or that have been victims of animal trafficking, this makes our time volunteering really positive! All in all, it was a fantastic Ecuadorian experience, with great support from all the staff who made my journey easy."

Annika, Germany, NGO Taxi Volunteers

"At the Rescue Center in the Amazon, the staff really go above and beyond to make sure you get the most out of your experience. The actual work was a really cool experience too. Every day we got to feed the animals and clean out their cages as the very first activity of the morning. After breakfast, the group activities at the project vary. During my month as a volunteer we built some cages for the parrots, which involved pouring cement, painting, putting in posts, nailing on the wires, etc. We also worked in the greenhouse, prepared food for the animals, and worked with local staff carrying bananas and fruits. We were very productive, but at the same time, the atmosphere was relaxed, and we had a lot of fun during the working hours. This program gives you the opportunity to see exotic things every day that you may never be able to see elsewhere. It’s important to keep in mind that you will be working with many different people and that you need to be open minded. I loved my time there and miss being a part of the project!"

Jared, USA, NGO Taxi volunteer

During your time in the jungle you will learn many things. You will see how local people live and how their lives and ways of thinking are different from yours. You will find out how little you actually need to live simply and happily. There might be things you like and find interesting, but there may also be things you don’t like, don’t understand or that frustrate you. Don’t worry, it’s all part of your learning experience and of broadening your horizons. Make the best of it and see it as a wonderful opportunity for mutually beneficial exchange; you learn from the people and animals at the project and they learn from you.

We at NGO Taxi hope your overall experience at your project will be a positive one and will give you a multitude of new skills to take into your future career.
You will find that in Ecuador, things don’t always go as planned and it can in general be very slow and disorganized. We would therefore ask that if you decide to take on this project with us you stay positive, patient, and flexible, and take it as a learning opportunity and a chance for you to become familiar with a culture so different from your own.

We look forward to receiving your application and hopefully, you can join us as a helping hand on one of our volunteer placements soon!


NGO Animal

NGO Taxi


Animal Rescue Centre - Ecuador


Conservation Projects


Conservation projects, Environmental Work, Wildlife

Included with this course
  • Food included
  • Airport pick up

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