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Interview With Izzy, A Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center Veterinary Intern

Veterinarians in scrubs operating on a sedated animal in a clinic
Veterinary Intern Izzy performing an operation on a Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center resident

This past week, I had the honor of learning about the experience of one of the first wildlife veterinary internship participants at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center: Izzy, who came in 2021 for five weeks.

How did you find out about Rescate Wildlife? 
Izzy: Through an internet search of different veterinary internships for wildlife students. It was during my junior year of college and COVID had canceled my two study abroad programs. I was yearning to live abroad and have always loved the rainforest of Costa Rica.

What were your responsibilities here?
Izzy: I worked in the wildlife rehab clinic assisting the veterinarians with the medical care of the animals, daily treatiments, assisting in the surgery, preforming necropsies, running lab work…I also helped out with environmental enrichment for the endangered macaws and the monkeys.

Izzy helping with enrichment

How did you have fun here?
Izzy: I loved living in the volunteer house (eating ripe mangos from our front yard), doing Zumba in the restaurant, playing lots of Uno Flip…and our Friday night movie nights in the rescue center’s on site movie theater. 

When you weren’t performing veterinary duties, what did you do in Costa Rica?
Izzy: I think very fondly of our trip to the Osa peninsula. I loved going on the night walks to find snakes and frogs. Those little bungalows housed some of the noisiest yet sound nights of sleep I have ever had. We ate pineapples straight from the ground. I saw the scarlet macaws flying above — truly in the wild — and decided they would always be my favorite bird.

Photo of a macaw, courtesy Izzy

How did this experience help your career, studies, and views of wildlife?
Izzy: I learned about the cultural importance of wildlife conservation to the people of Costa Rica.  I made a lifelong friend and mentor, who I recently lived with in Tucson and worked as a vet tech in her clinic. She is so special to me and I met her at Rescate. 

Bird-watching with a new friend

Izzy has another amazing Pura Vida connection: Her parents met in Costa Rica during their study abroad experience in Monteverde! 

Are you studying to be a vet or share a passion for wildlife conservation, and are interested in creating your own memories as a Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center veterinary intern or volunteer? Contact Jeanne Marie Pittman at with your questions and availability!

** Article by volunteer Lisa Martens, all photos courtesy Izzy

Would you like to get involved yourself?

Become an Intern and have a unique wildlife experience.

Veterinary Internship

Veterinary interns work directly with our highly experienced veterinarian and our rehabilitation staff. You will assist with with animal intakes, exams, treatments, surgeries, feeding and record keeping.

Wildlife Internship​

Work hands-on in the Lifetime Care Sanctuary, Endangered Species Breeding Center and the Rescue Center, feeding animals, conducting behavioral research, and creating enriching experiences for our non-releasable animals or even clicker train our Jaguar „Guapo“.

Road to freedom Internship

This internship gives you the unique opportunity to not only see, but to play an active part in what we call: The Road to Freedom. Aid the animals in their release, monitor and research them and their second chance at life in the wild, the final step on their Road to Freedom.

Alajuela, COSTA RICA