Inti Wara Yassi

For over 20 years the CIWI has taken care of wildlife in Bolivia, giving the opportunity to young unfortunate boys to work in contact with animals and thus giving them a purpose in life, this also taught the population to respect wild animals.

The main objective is to help animals that are victims of illegal trafficking, and in the last few years, CIWI has also focused a lot on preventing animal trafficking.

As CIWI is the main organization for wildlife rights and care, it hopes to make drastic changes in the wild population’s vision of wildlife and to one day end all of the cruel trafficking that rips animals from their homes.

The Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi is a Bolivian legal organization, made up of Bolivian professionals and volunteers, as well as volunteers from all over the world.

The organization was founded in 1992, in the beginning CIWI worked with orphans and poor children, with the aim of helping them in their personal growth and build their self-esteem through work with animals, the defense of the environment and the sensitization of the population towards the importance of respect for biodiversity. See the website


Over the years, CIWI has unveiled and denounced the illegal trade that many animal species were subject to. Despite the indifference of the authorities responsible for the control of these crimes, the organization assumed the responsibility of caring for and offering a second chance to the victims of this trafficking.

As an organization, CIWI wants to bring significant changes to Bolivia and raise awareness among the population. At the moment they manage three parks – Machia (Cochabamba), Ambue Ari (Santa Cruz) and Jacj Cuisi (north of La Paz) – these operate as wild animal shelters (CCFS).

The mission of CIWI is to offer the best possible quality of life to the animals saved from illegal traffic and to reduce this one through educational programs and public actions, in collaboration with authorities and other organizations. Through this work they try to inspire humanity to sustain values ​​that promote the conservation and recovery of biodiversity.

CIWI’s vision is a world in which wildlife lives freely in its natural habitat; free from the dangers of indiscriminate hunting, capture, and destruction of their ecosystem.

The objectives are:

    • Defend the environment and conserve biodiversity
    • Recover and rehabilitate the wildlife fallen victim of trafficking and abuse.
    • Take care of all wild animals recovered from captivity.
    • Coordinate and offer research and educational programs that support and contribute to the conservation of our ecosystem.

Chiunque può fare il volontario Presso CIWI, il periodo minimo è una settimana ed a seconda di dove vi recherete troverete condizioni di vita differenti, comunque sia dimenticatevi i vostri ostelli, ricordatevi che chi viene qui viene per lavorare, non è una vacanza allo zoo, si lavora dalle 8 alle 13 ore al giorno, i lavori vanno dalla costruzione di nuovi alloggiamenti per gli animali, pulizia delle gabbie, sfamare gli animali, ed in alcuni casi portarli a spasso nella foresta.

Volunteering in Bolivia with Pumas

Anyone can be a volunteer at CIWI, the minimum period is one week and depending on where you go you will find different living conditions, however, forget about your hostels, remember that you go there to work, it is not a holiday at the zoo, you work from 8 to 13 hours a day, the work goes from the construction of new housings for the animals, to cleaning the cages, feeding the animals, and in some cases take them for a walk in the forest.

The period from April to September is one in which there are more the volunteers and where work is also focused in the expansion of the structures, the climate is mild and the rains are scarce. The period from October to March is the one where there’s more need for volunteers, the work is mainly with the animals because the season is hot and rainy, it is the rain season, so expect 10 to 20 days of rain a month.

As you can easily discover by searching in the internet, volunteering is often prohibitively expensive, especially if you are a penniless like me, they usually ask you $200/400 a week to work, unfortunately the associations have no money and you are a cost, even if I doubt so high, CIWI itself will ask for a contribution to work, sleep and eat in their parks, the cost fortunately is not as high as in other cases, it is 60/70 Bolivianos per day, 6/8 euros, therefore in a month you are at about 200/250 euros, but the cost varies depending on the park in which you decide to go.

The community owns 3 parks:

Parque Machia

Parque Machia is the oldest park, the largest and best organized, inside there is also a path for tourists to visit the animals, many of whom live free in the park.
Work is mainly divided between cleaning the park and the cages, preparing the food, etc.
Depending on the animals you will entrusted with, you will have different responsibilities and depending on the time you will be left with different tasks.

Parque Ambue Ari

Parque Ambue Ari is the second park of the community, this park is quite large too, with over seventy animals of twenty different species offering a great variety of works in it. The territory of the park is almost 1000 hectares, and the hosted animals range from servals, tapirs, pumas, howler monkeys, jaguars and many others.
The work inside the park is divided between cleaning the cages and the park, preparing food, maintaining the park, taking care of the animals and leading the felines to walk. The number of volunteers is around 30/60 depending on the season.

Parque Jacj Cuisi

The Jacj Cuisi park is the one that I know best, there I spent almost four months as a volunteer. It is a place suitable for those who do not like crowded places, the number of volunteers varies from four to twelve. The 300-hectare park is the newest of the three, located at the edge of Madidi National Park, it’s a wild place, connected by a single dirt road.