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Volunteer with Animals & Wildlife

Animal lovers will love Maximo Nivel’s dog rescue, reptile rescue, alpaca project, horse rehabilitation, and university zoo programs!

Maximo’s Animal Care programs are available in Guatemala and Peru. Volunteer placements are available at specialized dog rescue shelters where love and care is greatly needed for these abandoned little fellas. As well, we work with an exceptional amphibian and reptile rescue center in Guatemala and a small university-run zoo in Peru. These more specialized placements are available on a limited basis, so please mention your preference when registering.

In Latin America, pets are not viewed as family members as they are in more developed countries. There is a deep lack of care, education, and understanding of animals and their unique needs (e.g. spaying and neutering). Side streets are often filled with small packs of abandoned dogs and cats who suffer from hunger, disease, and abuse. The lack of spaying and neutering also means these animals breed quickly. Shelters and rescue programs work to save these street animals and rehabilitate them by providing veterinary care and placing them in loving homes when possible.

What will you do as an Animal Care volunteer?

At dog shelters, volunteers assist in providing medical treatment, grooming, love, and other daily care. You bathe, brush and walk the animals, provide basic obedience training, clean cages. You may also lead education programs, or help with fundraising events or spay/neuter programs. The project in Peru houses over 300 dogs and almost 100 cats, and the shelter in Guatemala houses over 50 dogs. Both project sites depend heavily on the help of volunteers. These projects are great for animal lovers!

Maximo’s zoo program cares for endangered species, manages rehabilitation and release programs, and works to spark a life-long love for animals in children. The zoo hosts approximately 30-40 visitors daily. Work revolves around the day-to-day maintenance of the zoo, including animal feeding, cage cleaning, light construction work, and some conservation work. You may also help host visitors. Professors and students from the Zoology and Biology faculties of the university are often onsite, working with volunteers.

The Amphibian and Reptile Rescue Center focuses on the R’s of conservation: Rescue, Recovery, and Relocation. Volunteers help support the treatment of injured or sick reptiles, and release healthy adults back into the wild where they belong. Daily work revolves around maintenance of the center, feeding, cage cleaning, and some conservation work. You may also help host visitors to the center.

The Alpaca Project in Peru sees volunteers working on a farm owned and operated for more than 10 years by a local Huayllarcocha family. The farm’s main objective is not only to support the local inhabitants, but to allow tourists the opportunity to learn about textile making in Cusco. Volunteers will spend most of their time feeding and caring for the llamas and alpacas on the farm, helping with the treatment of sick animals, and developing the farm to include informational signs and new houses for the animals. Depending on your Spanish level you may be asked to participate in other assignments. The owners love volunteers who are eager to learn and take initiative, so make sure to wear a smile and to ask about the other ways in which you can assist!

The horse rehabilitation project in Guatemala has a fundamental purpose- to treat rescued horses with respect and help with the rehabilitation to make sure they live long and healthy lives. The project also educates locals on how to properly care for their horses to lead longer and healthier lives. Volunteers will help in the daily care of the horses and is a perfect fit for a volunteer wanting to learn more about the everyday needs of horses. Volunteers can expect to groom, feed and help clean out the horse stables, clean hooves, and help care for sick or elderly horses at the stables. Currently the projects also give horseback riding tours and private lessons to help educate others on what type of care and attention is needed with horses.

CountriesGuatemala and Peru
Program DurationMinimum 1 week
Work Schedule3-4 hours/day Monday-Friday; Working hours are split into morning and afternoon shifts; schedules vary according to the project’s needs.
Volunteer Requirements– At least 17 years of age
– Flexible; Willing to do various tasks based on season and project needs
– Be healthy and physically prepared to do manual labor for most of your volunteer time.
– Hard working, ready to do anything!
– Spanish language skills are not required
Apply Now!

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What our Animal Care Volunteers are saying…

“Not only did I have the time of my life, but in just 3 short weeks my life changed for the better! Maximo showed me what an adventure really is. I was engulfed in a world that was unlike anything of my own or anything else I’ve experienced. Culture, adventure, experience and memories is what I took from this trip and nobody will get anything less than that I GUARANTEE it !! I spent 10 days living on a wildlife conservation and took care of animals that wouldn’t even be allowed as pets in my own country. I climbed the ancient ruins of Tikall. I ziplined alongside two different species of monkeys. I climbed a volcano and roasted marshmallows over lava rocks. I learned how to surf and fire spin in El Salvador, which now is a new hobby of mine. I even tried to Salsa with my house mother! Nothing was short of excitement and adventure which is what the fantastic Maximo team offers and will make sure is given to each and every volunteer. I’m just biding my time until I come back and see my GUA family again.”
“My daughter and I enjoyed our experience but were saddened by the lack of funding for the dog shelters. The owners of the shelter were amazing at taking care of so many dogs with so little funding. We actually brought a dog from the shelter back to the U.S. with us! Thanks Carla from Maximo Nivel for all of your help with getting Orejas back to the States for us! My daughter and I had an amazing overall experience and our host family was the best we could have asked for!”
“Just want to say a huge thank you to Maximo Nivel for coordinating an awesome 3 weeks in Peru. I was fortunate enough to work with both the amazing people and animals at the local university’s zoo. I am so thankful for this life-changing experience!!”
Jillian Paige Merritt‎ , Animal Care Volunteer in Peru
“I spent a week in Guatemala at the Exotic reptile sanctuary and reserve. I absolutely loved everything about it, I got to feed and handle all types of reptiles from turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodiles and many more. Everyone I met in the house I was staying in, the place I volunteered at and the people within the organization were all so nice and helpful. I felt like my time spent volunteering was greatly appreciated by the workers and owners of Antigua Exotic and they were kind enough to take us with them for the day at their crocodile reserve. It was the most amazing experience to help catch and move a crocodile, I will never forget that! They also fed us a purely traditional Guatemalan cuisine made all from plants on the reserve. I got to totally immerse myself in their culture and day to day life. I’m so thankful for my experience and the impact I’ve made!”