Rescue Center Costa Rica is considered the best animal volunteer program in Costa Rica. We are located in Guacima, Alajuela on a 10 acre farm which is just a short drive from the Juan Santamaria International airport.

We have an on-site hospital staffed by dedicated vets/interns and comfortable living quarters which can house up to 100+ volunteers at any time. The animal enclosures include but are not limited to an aviary, sloth gardens, and monkey cages all surrounded by nature in order to allow the animals a place as close to their natural habitat as they recover from their wounds.


Vanessa Lizano started the Rescue Center in Limon, Costa Rica over ten years ago. She worked hard over the years and grew the project from a small farm with a few animals to over 100 total in 2013. She took a hiatus that year after the death of her good friend and fellow conservationist, Jairo Mora. During her time away her parents were able to maintain the project for a few years until October 2018 when they asked Vanessa to come back and manage the project. She immediately said yes and went to work. The changes she made included building a new website and back-end platform, hiring a team of private safe drivers, incorporating a brand-new menu with healthy alternatives and changed all protocols and procedures for the staff. The changes were drastic but the reviews on google and trip advisor over the past year prove that she runs the best volunteer program for animals in the country. For Vanessa, the animals come first and she works hard to make sure they are well-fed and cared for each and every day. She implemented strict rules for animal handling to ensure the animals that can be released will be released. It is her passion, hard work and tireless love that made the project something truly special. In September 2019 after a year her parents expressed the desire to take back management of their farm. Although Vanessa was disappointed she knew that the changes she made and the lessons she learned over that year could be implemented in other places of Costa Rica. She spent a few months investigating different locations and then was able to purchase and open her own 10 acre farm in Guacima in January 2020. Her passion to make a difference and her love of animals are the keys that will make her new project at her new location truly special.

Click here to read more about Vanessa’s history.

Click here to read a recent article about Vanessa in VICE magazine.

Click here to check Vanessa's LinkedIn.


Laura Lizano handles the day to day operations of the Rescue Center. She arrives early each and every day to meet and greet all new volunteers as well as the coordinators. She is responsible weekly for planning the work that needs to be done as well as organizing the adventure and turtle tours. Volunteers who sign up direct with Rescue Center can count on Laura to handle any problems or needs you may have during your stay.


The veterinarian team at the Rescue Center is comprised of our vet employees as well as a combination of volunteers and interns. Raquel is our head veterinarian and the main person making the decisions on the animals. Larissa and Josimar are our two biologist and in addition to taking wonderful care of the animals are a great compliment to Raquel. The members of the vet team are the only ones who are allowed to physically handle the animals. Volunteers and interns are rotated and we work hard to make sure as many volunteers get to spend time working in the hospital. Daily duties include but are not limited to feeding our orphaned or injured animals, administering necessary medicines and ensuring our permanent animals are healthy and well-fed.


The Rescue Center employs a staff of anywhere around 10 people at any one-time.. The employees are part of our family and they all care deeply about their work and the animals. In addition to their normal duties, you will often see them helping with human and animal food prep, enclosure cleaning as well as farming and cage building. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated and motivated team. As a volunteer during your stay you will quickly see why we are so appreciative of their hard work and compassion.

Rescue Center Costa Rica - Trip Advisor Reviews