How to volunteer with sloths

Volunteers taking a selfie

Are you planning a gap year abroad and want to do something meaningful as well as fun?

Do you want to take your kids on a family holiday but want them to experience the joy that comes in helping others while they travel?

Are you a sloth lover who wants to help make the world a nicer place for sloths who have fallen upon hard times?

Or do you want first hand experience working with a scientific team and contributing to world leading sloth research?

Volunteering with sloths might just be the perfect item to add to your travel itinerary! But how do you do it?

Let’s check out your options.

Sloth Assistant Team Member

Organisation: The Sloth Institute Costa Rica

Suits: Individual, adult, researcher

Length: One month

Cost: $400 plus food and travel costs.

The Sloth Institute accepts two Sloth Assistance Team Members a month to help the technicians and wildlife director in fieldwork activities.

You need to be active and passionate about sloth conservation for this role. You’ll be working up to 8 hours a day in not always very comfortable conditions. The Sloth Institute is not a sanctuary, it is a research institution that believes that sloths are better off with limited contact with humans – so don’t apply for this role expecting to be cuddling sloths all day. You will, however, get experience working with a scientific research team, and will be involved in conducting world-first sloth research.

Find out more about the position here, including how to apply.

Sloth Institute Costa Rica needs interns

Sloth Technician

Organisation: The Sloth Institute Costa Rica

Suits: Individual, adult, researcher

Length: Three months

Cost: You pay for travel/flights and immigration expenses. Basic accommodation and meals provided.

As a Sloth Technician you’ll be working long days and nights, 6 days a week with little time off. You need to be extremely dedicated to sloth conservation and willing to be uncomfortable for the benefit of scientific research.

You need to be fit and healthy, and also have field research experience as well as behavioral research experience. You’ll also need to have studied or worked in zoology, environmental education, wildlife ecology or a related field.

This sounds like a serious gig for a seriously dedicated scientific researcher. Find out more here.

Wildlife Volunteer

Organisation: NATUWA

Suits: Individual, adult, traveller

Length: negotiable

Cost: $40 per day

volunteers maintaining an enclosure at natuwa

NATUWA is serious about minimizing the impact that humans have on animals. Their goal is to spread awareness that people should not remove animals from their habitats. Volunteers can’t interfere with the animal’s natural behaviors, so if sloth cuddles are on your bucket list, this is not the right program for you.

A NATUWA Wildlife Volunteer’s role is to help with feeding the animals, cleaning enclosures, helping with rehabilitation and release of animals, planting trees, giving tours of the sanctuary and more. It won’t just be sloths you are working with either. NATUWA cares for macaws, tortoises, monkeys, wild cats among others.

In return for your work at the sanctuary you will be provided with dorm room accommodation and meals, as well as WiFi. You are responsible for all costs in getting there, plus $40 a day.

Check out NATUWA‘s website and see if it might be a good fit for you!

Family Volunteer Adventure

Organisation: DiscoverCorps

Suits: Families

Length: 8 days/ 7 nights

Cost: $2995 per adult, $2695 per child

excited young girl with sloth hanging from branch

Experience the wonders of Costa Rica with your children, and give back to the community while you do it.

On this week long holiday you’ll learn about Costa Rican culture with cooking classes, dance performances and school visits. You’ll experience Arenal Volcano, hot springs, Montverde cloud forest and beautiful beach towns. Manuel Antonio National Park is not forgotten, of course. You’ll spend two mornings volunteering – helping out with a reforestation project and volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary.

You can request a detailed itinerary here.

Rescue Center Volunteer

Organisation: Rescue Center Costa Rica

Suits: Individuals, adults, travellers

Length: varies

Cost: $50 per day includes meals and accommodation

As a volunteer at the Rescue Center Costa Rica you will be preparing food for over 100 animals daily: sloths, monkeys, squirrels, birds, kinkajous and olingo and more. You’ll help clean and maintain their enclosures and even help build new ones. You will also help by making toys for the animals, and participating in community education projects.

You’ll get three meals a day and I really appreciate the fact that they list their menus online and are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free friendly. Dietary restrictions can be a big concern for many of us when travelling to other countries, and it looks like Rescue Center Costa Rica is very accommodating. I also really like that they have a volunteer enrichment program. Each week volunteers can participate in activities like yoga, quiz nights, night walks and dance nights – for free!

Jess Travels has written about her experience volunteering here, you might like to have a read. And of course check out Rescue Center Costa Rica for more information.

sloth monkey and parrot with caption make a difference

Rescue Center Day Visit Volunteer

Organisation: Rescue Center Costa Rica

Suits: Families

Length: 1 day

Cost: $20 per person, or $30 including a meal. Children under 2 are free.

If you’re travelling with your kids this might be a great option. Tour the Rescue Center for an hour and then hang around for the rest of the day to help work with their team of volunteers. There’s no additional charge for this and you’ll receive three meals in return for your help.

Costa Rica Animal Rescue and Conservation Volunteer

Organisation: GoEco

Suits: Adults, travellers, individuals

Lenght: At least two weeks, three is the recommended minimum stay. Maximum 12 weeks.

Cost: £780

woman holding a baby sloth

This program allows you to work with other volunteers from around the world to help protect indigenous Costa Rican wildlife such as sloths, jaguars and parrots. They emphasize ethical volunteering and wildlife interactions. If you’re really hoping for baby sloth cuddles, this might be your chance. Of course, human interaction is best kept to a minimum, but some of their baby sloths need extra tender loving care – perhaps you can be the one to provide it.

The first week of the program is a language course, then you move to the sanctuary. You’ll stay in home-stay or dorm-style accommodation depending on which sanctuary you are placed at. All meals included whilst at the sanctuary, you’ll need to find your own lunch while you’re taking part in the first week’s language program.

Find out more about the program and application process here.

Are you planning a volunteering stint with sloths? We’d love to hear about it!

Have you volunteered with sloths? It would be awesome if you could share your experience (and photos) in the comments, it would be really helpful for other sloth loving volunteers-to-be.

You can also check out Hanging with Sloths Pinterest board Volunteer with Sloths for more volunteering options.