Close this search box.

Veterinary Internship

Are you looking for a Wildlife Veterinary Internship, pre Vet Internship, pre vet volunteer opportunity, Vet Tech Internship, or veterinary clinic volunteer opportunity? Look no further and explore opportunities at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center-Zoave.

About the veterinary and vet tech internship

Incoming animals

Over 3,000 wild animals are admitted to the rescue center on an annual basis and include orphans, injuries, electrocutions, confiscations and surrendered pets. In addition, there are 800 non-releasable wild animals in the Life-time Care Sanctuary that require medical management.
The case-load will vary widely depending on the time of year and the species, age and condition of the animals admitted to the center during the intern­ship. Typical species include parrots, passerines, raptors, monkeys, sloths, various small mammals, iguana, turtles and other reptiles, with 70% of the intakes being avian species.

What you will do as a Veterinary Intern

This internship will help prepare you for a career in Veterinary Medicine.
You will assist our veterinary team in the clinic:

What to expect

Interns should expect a busy, highly variable environment with a high number of emergency cases and/or confiscations coming in at a moment‘s notice. The level of participation in clinical cases will depend greatly on the skill and experience level of the student and the number and type of cases presented during the internship period.

Internship opportunities and projects outside the clinic

The interns also have the opportunity to attend lectures, wet labs and round tables organized by the wildlife and veterinary internship coordinators covering different topics in biodiversity conservation. Interns staying longer periods of time have the opportunity to develop their own small projects during their internship period.


Students participate in rehabilitation and clinic activities for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week with two days off for rest or travel. The clinic is staffed from 6 am to 6 pm. Students work roughly 8 hours per day on a flexi-schedule depending on the needs of the clinic, the caseload and the time of the year.


Accommodation is provided in a guest house with shared bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. Towels and blankets are provided. Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center is fenced and has 24-hour security.

Gallery of the wildlife veterinary internship

QUALIFICATION and requirements

We are seeking serious, passionate individuals with the desire to dedicate themselves to helping us return Costa Rican wildlife back to where they belong.

Coursework in pre-vet, veterinary medicine or veterinary nursing is required.

Some experience working with animals is preferred, particularly in a clinic setting.

Over 18 age restriction alert icon

Must be 18 years of age or older.

You must be able to speak and read English or Spanish to participate in our programs. Spanish language skills are not required, but many of our staff members do not speak English and an understanding of some common Spanish words and phrases will help you integrate into our team.

The experience traveling to a tropical country and living in a group setting are helpful but not required.

Flexibility, ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Having the ability to maintain a positive attitude in stressful situations is essential.

What is included?

What is not included?

Meet the team!

Who will you work with?

Veterinary interns work directly with Dr. Isabel Hagnauer and Dr. Sofia Astorga, our experienced wildlife veterinarians, Dr. Sara Goñi, our intern coordinator and the rehabilitation team.

Dr. Isabel Hagnauer


Dr. Sofia Astorga


Dr. Sara Goñi

Veterinarian & Intern Coordinator

Apply now for the Veterinary Internship

Fill out this application form to start your wildlife experience at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center - Zoave. By filling out the form, you will receive more information via email and be directly redirected to the application and booking tool. If you have any questions during the process, don’t hesitate to contact us directly. See you at Rescate! 🙂 🦥 🌴

Internship Experiences

Interview With Izzy, A Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center Veterinary Intern

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. …

Intern Reviews

Mirella Schönlechner
Mirella Schönlechner
Austria, February 2022
Read More
I did a veterinary internship last february. I loved working with the nice team (Sara❤️❤️❤️) and how they never make you feel stupid, even when you have never worked with some of the species. They always took time to explain stuff and let us work independently - which I enjoyed very much! I got the feeling to be a part of the team and even got my own patients to look after. It was an amazing time and I learned a lot in a very short time 😊
Norm Desjardins
Norm Desjardins
Canada, October 2023
Read More
My experience at Rescate was more than I had hoped for thanks to the program staff (Jeanne Marie, Raquel, Valeria, Matius) and restaurant staff (Marco, Jason, Charlie, Melissa), as well as your housekeeper (Damaris) and driver (David). Everyone was incredibly responsive to my needs and questions be they work, logistics, or culture/Spanish pronunciation-related. Jeanne Marie, Raquel and Valeria regularly checked in with me that my requests were appropriately handled in a timely manner. I also appreciated the links and documents of fauna shared with me by both Raquel and Valeria. These managers placed a high priority on safety throughout my stay (I was reminded more than once to avoid putting my hand on the trunks of Acacia trees...and I needed those reminders :). This was all done with a consistently positive attitude no matter how busy they clearly were. Thanks to everyone!

I forgot to mention that I appreciated the workshops provided on birds (with Eduardo), reptiles (with Luca and Monika) and Wattled Cranes (with Jeanne Marie). They helped broaden my understanding of animal observation and care 😊.
Natalya Redmond
Natalya Redmond
England, 6.–26. August 2023
Read More
This internship has taught me so much about wildlife medicine, from working up a case without a history and handling wild animals to species behavior and conservation. The team is absolutely fantastic, very supportive and the work that they do is so important, I would really recommend anyone considering it to get involved 😊
Hannah Sollohub
Hannah Sollohub
Grenada, May 2022
Read More
My veterinary internship at Rescate was absolutely incredible! Dr. Isabel and Dr. Sofía made it a great learning experience and allowed me to get invaluable hands on experience. This internship made me realize my passion for wildlife conservation and medicine and is something I will cherish as I continue my path as a veterinary student. I would love to go back because I know I would still learn something new everyday and I hope that so many others get to discover the amazing place that Rescate is. I recommend this internship to everyone pursing an interest in exotic animals, rehabilitation, and Costa Rica’s biodiversity!
Rúben Joel Proença Seguro
Rúben Joel Proença Seguro
Portugal, 21st February–21st May2022
Read More
I went to Costa Rica to have a new experience, a new culture shock and to learn more about one of my passions in veterinary medicine, wild animals! Being able to collaborate with the amazing Rescate project was a great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment on my part! I was always very well received by everyone, I met people and made friends that I will carry with me forever. I loved living in Costa Rica and I leave feeling like a better person, with a new culture and new knowledge.


Frequently asked questions
What to expect on your Internship at Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center.

This depends on the Internship you’re choosing. For more information just apply on our application-form and we will send you a detailed list of everything you will be doing. Alternatively you can also check out each Internship-Website here: Veterinary Internship, Wildlife Internship & Road to Freedom Internship

No, there is a strict policy on contact with the animals. If you are in the Vet program you will have a little bit more hands on approach, but it is strictly based on medical care. You will not be cuddling any animals. Wildlife and Road to freedom interns will not have any physical contact with the animals.

Costs vary depending on length or stay or time of year. For more information, enquire now!

We can organize for a driver to pick you up at the airport or anywhere in Costa Rica. We are located in La Garita, Alajuela about 15 minutes from the San Jose airport. For more information click HERE.

Once you sign up for our programs, we will send you a packing list and a manual to help you prepare for your experience with us. For more information fill out this form here.

We require the Covid vaccine or a negative covid test. We recommend that you are vaccinated for tetanus.

Interns work 5 days per week, 8 hours per day with two consecutive days off.

We have various different things that can be done in the evenings including night tours, our onsite movie theater, going out for dinner with other volunteers/Interns, heading to the local farmers markets, games nights and more!

There are various tours and activities that can be done as a day trip from the central valley, or you are able to explore the country with maybe a visit to the volcanos, Manuel Antonio, or other beach areas.

For the Veterinary Internship we limit participation to 4 interns, for the Wildlife Internship we limit participation to 10 participants and for the Road to Freedom Internship we limit participation to 6 participants.

Yes, for more information on traveling outside of your stay with us, you can email Amy at amy(at)

Yes, we have free wifi in the Internship-houses and various parts of the sanctuary, including the main entrance and restaurant. There is not wifi on all of the trails.

There is a pool at Rescate in La Garita Alajuela, and a pool at the local hotel near Bosque Escondido in Nicoya.

Follow us Social Media for more wildlife stories and behind the scenes insights.
Alajuela, COSTA RICA