Proyecto Asis Animal Rescue Center
Last Updated: Apr 05, 2013
Founded in 1995, Proyecto Asis is dedicated to fostering intercultural connections and building a new environmental consciousness through day tours, volunteer opportunities and Spanish immersion. The organization focuses on community education, and serves as rescue center for injured and orphaned wildlife.
Location : Jabillos, 9 miles from Arenal
Area : 8 acres
Hours : 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily
Telephone : 2475-9121 or 8722-8282
Entrance Fee : $25 adults, $15 children
Named "Asis" for the patron saint of nature, the shelter was founded by a locally famous veterinarian to house the many orphaned and injured animals brought to his practice. For day trippers, the project's focal point is the Wild Animal Rescue Center. Due to human interventions, habitat destruction, illegal hunting and accidents, injured wildlife arrives at Proyecto Asis in need of medical attention and rehabilitation. In coordination with the Monteverde Conservation League and Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy, the rescue center provides surgeries, medicine and rehabilitation to wildlife in need.
Though many animals heal sufficiently to be released back into their natural habitat, others are not so fortunate. Visitors and volunteers will meet Hercules the spider monkey; Rafael, a scarlet macaw; Benjamin the kinkajou; and Perla, an affectionate white-lipped peccary. Animals live in enclosures that accurately recreate their native habitats, and all are treated with respect and care.
The center's eight acres of primary and secondary forest include wetlands that attract native species like caiman, alligator snapping turtles, boat-billed herons and black-billed whistling ducks.
Proyecto Asis offers volunteer programs for individuals, families, groups and veterinarians. There is also a daily volunteer program that allows visitors to help with animal rehabilitation. ($45 adults, $25 children, including an Animal Rescue Center tour.)
Programs focus on conservation and social development, and volunteers from all backgrounds are welcome at Proyecto Asis. Opportunities at the animal rescue center include feeding, cleaning cages and constructing new enclosures. Volunteers with environmental conservation at heart gravitate toward local recycling and reforestation projects, where they learn how to make artisan banana paper, which is sold by a local women's co-operative to support their families; or prepare seedlings for delivery to regional reforestation programs. Social volunteers try their hand at community construction projects or eco-friendly gardening, and those with a gift for language can help teach English in public schools.
The Veterinary International Program partners with Iowa State University to educate volunteers and provide students with college credits. Participants study veterinary Spanish and immerse themselves in work-study programs with local dairy and beef cattle farms and industry businesses. This program has a minimum 15-day commitment.
Volunteers commit 20 hours each week to their projects; visitors involved in Volunteer-Spanish Immersion programs will spend 10 hours per week volunteering and 10 hours per week in classes. Weekly programs include a homestay with meals, training and a completion certificate. All volunteer fees help support the local community and animal rescue center.
Average temperatures vary from 67-88 °F. During the rainy season (May-November), pack a rain jacket and water-resistant hiking boots.
From La Fortuna, head east on Route 142 through the towns of El Tanque and Los Angeles. After passing Los Angeles, stay on the same road and follow signs for Javillos. Make a right at Bar Javillos; Proyecto Asis is on the right-hand side after crossing a small, yellow cement bridge. If you pass La Roca, turn around.