Volunteer in a wildlife centre and marine aquarium

  • Volunteer in support of a vet in a wildlife and conservation park& aquarium
  • Observe and get involved in animal rescue, rehabilitation, reproduction and release
  • Ideal for volunteers interested in zoology, biology, conservation and ecotourism
  • A variety of wildlife, from sharks and crocodiles to marine birds

Project summary

This project is a marine wildlife centre that exists to educate and promote the themes of conservation and environmental protection to the school children and locals of the area. They also provide a rehabilitation centre for wildlife that has been rescued in the local area, including brown pelicans, whistling ducks, and stranded sea mammals, in particular those that have been mistakenly caught and injured in fisherman’s nets.

The centre has for a long time educated on and supported the protection of the Olive Ridley turtles that nest on the local beaches and they run a small reproduction programme for macaws, parakeets and parrots that have been adversely effected by the use of pesticides.

All of these activities take place in the environments of a commercial aquarium, aviary, museum, botanical garden and education centre that is used to host schools and for paying visitors. In the aquarium there are sharks (that you can swim with), sting-rays and sea lions (also your play pals) among others, acting as an attraction. There is a veterinary area responsible for the welfare of all the animals.

This would be ideal for volunteers and gap year students with an interest in ecotourism, biology, zoology, conservation, veterinary volunteer work and working with wild animals.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Based with the vet in the hospital of the aquarium, the volunteer’s first responsibility is the preparation of food, cleaning of the enclosures and observation of those animals held in the clinic.

Volunteers are able to support the work of the veterinary team both in the clinic and more generally outside the aquarium, when they are called upon to help pick-up injured animals off the beach, or support strandings of marine wildlife (typically January-March).

Outside the clinic volunteers rotate around the different animal conservation areas, performing a range of activities. Volunteers will be involved in the feeding, cleaning and maintenance of all the animals and their enclosures, including swimming inside the large marine tanks with sharks for those who are brave enough.

Volunteers with an interest in marine biology or zoology are also encouraged to observe reproductive behaviour and the observation of pregnant females.

There is an aviary where volunteers collect the nests of the birds and observe their reproductive behaviour. This takes place from March to September. Volunteers also monitor the eggs and the growth of the offspring during these months.

During the turtle season (August to December) volunteers can help preserve turtle nests and the incubation of eggs, before releasing the hatchlings off the local beach with the participation of the public.

Those volunteers with an interest in the management of the aquarium can also be involved in leading tour parties or helping with educational work with the visiting schools.

How you can make a difference

Volunteers are not essential to the day to day operation of the project. However English language skills are useful to showing the tourists around and extra pairs of hands always helpful for all the manual work. This is a conservation project trying to run on a budget and the support of volunteers just helps it do a better job all round.

This would be ideal for anyone with an interest in biology, zoology, conservation, veterinary volunteer work and working with wild animals.

What is distinctive about this project:

While this project is run primarily on commercial grounds, it offers volunteers a rare opportunity to gain experience in a breadth of bird and marine wildlife issues, including learning about conservation in the local area, rescue and rehabilitation of different species and time working alongside a veterinarian.

Blue Tiger Features:

This project is a wonderful opportunity to get involved caring for a range of marine wildlife, birds and reptiles. They have everything from a small frog pool to a number of American crocodiles to satisfy your thirst for diversity. They do not take many volunteers, so you need to be confident in making your contribution to local staff and integrating with the community you live and work with. It is a cultural opportunity as much as a wildlife one.


The project is open all year round.


Most of the staff and visitors only speak Spanish, so volunteers will benefit from having a moderate level of Spanish. The animals are largely indifferent.

Experience required:

No experience is specifically required, but volunteers should have a realistic expectation of how much manual work is involved in caring for animals, and level of fitness to do so comfortably. Obviously this is also a project for those with a confirmed passion for working with and handling animals.

Good to know:

You’ll be living with a local family a few miles from the wildlife centre, in a thriving and attractive town on the pacific coast of Mexico, so plenty to see and do in your recreation time.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, excursion. One week of 121 tuition in a small group.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Whale watching
  • Beaches
  • The Old Town

Country co-ordinator

Greta Ruiz

Greta lives close to our project base in Puerto Vallarta and has been working with us since 2006. She lived in London for three years where she completed her MSc in veterinary science. In addition to supporting our volunteers she now works as a Pilates instructor. She is brilliantly organised and works relentlessly to improve our programmes and offer support to the Mexico volunteers.

About Mexico