ARCAS is a non-profit Guatemalan NGO formed in 1989 by a group of Guatemalan citizens who became concerned as they saw their precious natural heritage – especially their wildlife – rapidly disappearing before their eyes.

ARCAS was originally created for a very specific and urgent purpose: to build a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government.

Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown into one of the largest and most complex rescue centers in the world, receiving between 300 and 600 animals of more than 40 species per year.


ARCAS has two centres: at Peten in northern Guatemala; and at Hawaii on the southern coast of Guatemala.

Number of volunteers required?

This is flexible because volunteers can stay for short or longer periods, depending on their availability, anything from a few days to several months.


ARCAS produces its own comprehensive Volunteer Guidebook, which is available for download here. The ARCAS website provides details of the organisation’s work, its background and history, where its volunteers come from, the tasks they carry out and so forth. It can be useful for volunteers to have some knowledge of Spanish, although this is not necessary as many of the staff and volunteers speak English.

A typical volunteer day might look something like this:

TIME                         DUTY

6:30                         Get up, feed the animals, clean cages

8:30                         Breakfast

9:30                        Chores around the center

11:00                     Pick up foodbowls, clean cages

13:00                     Lunch

14:00                     Feed the animals, clean cages

16:00-18:00       Individual projects, swimming, hiking, construction…

18:00                     Dinner & socializing


Volunteers have the opportunity to learn much about Guatemala’s wildlife and its ecosystems. There will be opportunities to get to know other international volunteers, for travel within the region and to improve Spanish language skills. Volunteers are responsible for travel to / from Guatemala, visa costs and health / travel insurance. Accommodation with local host families is provided at approximately 80 USD per week.

Current volunteers?

None from UWCs as this is a new partnership in 2012.

Former volunteers?

Rudy Herrera Marmol (Guetemala; UWCRCN 04-06)