Rescue Center
Costa Rica

If you’re passionate about caring for animals, like to travel, and considering a career in veterinary medicine, this is the program for you!

Experience the life-changing power of working with animals as you help veterinarians and conservationists provide care to animals that have been the victim of wildlife trafficking.

Prepare for the future

At Rescue Center Costa Rica, you get the chance to contribute to the vital efforts of a respected animal care facility as you learn from the experts that run it. That means you can look forward to:
  • Caring for native species like sloths, kinkajous, monkeys, and parrots
  • Completing rotations in the on-site animal hospital
  • Exploring Manuel Antonio National Park, home to hundreds of species of animals
  • Meeting new friends who share your passion for animals

By attending Rescue Center Costa Rica, you can earn up to 40 veterinary hours, a required part of every vet school application.

2024 Program Dates & Tuition

  • 9 Days
  • June 8–16
  • June 15–23
  • July 20–28
  • $5,899

What’s Included

Local meals, prepared family style

On-Site Accommodations

10:1 Teaching Vet-to-Student Ratio

Up to 40 veterinary hours

Round trip airfare*

*Roundtrip airfare from the designated international airport hub is included. Any travel costs from your location to that hub are not included.

Program Highlights

Emergency Vet Med

Shadow a teaching veterinarian for the duration of the program as you learn about emergency care procedures like suturing wounds, proper animal handling technique, and specialized diet preparation.

Animal Rehabilitation

Learn what it takes to practice long-term care for animals that have been the victim of wildlife trafficking or who otherwise need care, including for special species like toucans, spider monkeys, porcupines, and kinkajous.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Home to sloths, monkeys, anteaters, and over 180 species of birds, you’ll spend a full day exploring the natural beauty of this 680-hectare park, one of the most biodiverse national parks in the world!

Hospital Rotations

You’ll take turns rotating through different shifts in the on-site animal hospital. You can look forward to providing enrichments for the large sloth enclosures, shadowing clinical staff as they perform physical examinations, and performing ethograms in the lab.

Itinerary Highlights

Day 1

Arrival in Houston

  • Registration at a hotel nearby the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Group introductions and welcome dinner

Day 2

Journey to Costa Rica

  • Group flight to Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
  • Transport to Rescue Center Costa Rica
  • Introduction to Rescue Center Costa Rica (RCCR) and tour of facilities
  • Orientation and group dinner

Day 3

Learning Rotation I

  • Lecture: Wildlife Capture and Restraint
  • Learning Rotations*
    • Animal Care Team
    • Sloth Team
    • Clinical Team
    • Enrichment Team
  • Group lab work: physical exams, behavior, and enrichment
  • Salsa Night

*Students will be split into 4 groups and spend one day exploring each rotation topic

Day 4

Learning Rotation II

  • Learning Rotations
  • Lecture: Zoonotic Diseases
  • Animal Hospital Rounds
  • Trivia night

Day 5

Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Transport to Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Nature hike: animal identification practice
  • Beach Time
  • Return to RCCR
  • Game night

Day 6

Learning Rotation III

  • Veterinarian shadowing and practice
  • Learning Rotations
  • Lecture: Ethics and Animal Welfare
  • Animal Hospital Rounds
  • Movie night

Day 7

Learning Rotation IV

  • Learning Rotations
  • Lecture: Veterinary Diagnostics and Therapy
  • Group lab work: suturing, clinical skills, hematology
  • Karaoke night

Day 8

Closeout and Transfer to San Jose

  • Closing session and address: program debrief
  • Transfer to San Jose
  • Evening and Final Farewell Dinner in San Jose

Day 9


  • Group flight to IAH

The events included in this itinerary are subject to minor changes before your program.

Please note: For the safety of students, staff, and animals, not all animals may be touched or handled by participants. The teaching veterinarian and other professional staff members will advise students of the proper time, place, and method to handle animals when it is safe to do so.

Image Gallery

What some of our students and their parents are saying…

I loved getting to work with actual vets at the Rescue Center, and I loved the activities we did.”

Attending Rescue Center Costa Rica “increased Sophia’s confidence and interpersonal skills and confirmed that she wanted to be a vet.”

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For the safety of students, staff, and animals, not all animals may be touched or handled by participants. The teaching veterinarian and other professional staff members will advise students of the proper time, place, and method to handle animals when it is safe to do so.