Conservation Research and Advocacy

Vivarium de Quito - Quito, Ecuador
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-636 Location: Quito, Ecuador Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Conservation Min Duration: 2 weeks Lodging: BaseCamp or Host Family Language: Basic
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Volunteer Job Description

Vivarium de Quito is a specialized center preserving specimens of amphibians and reptiles. Recognized as one of the largest taxonomic storage centers in Ecuador and home to approximately 10,000 specimens.

Ecuador has so much biodiversity that the Vivarium needs the help of people who are interested in conservation issues. Volunteers who are aware that the preservation of all species in nature is important to the existence of human life as we now know it.

A conservation awareness volunteer at this center is needed to help in the workload of the staff in their varies departments. It may include: in the reptile research department, in the direct care of the amphibians and animals, in their educational section to the school children and/or the surrounding communities or in their center's visitor division.

Volunteers may be asked to provide educational knowledge of amphibians and reptiles to visitors to the Vivarium; creating an environmental awareness about the threats facing these animals and their importance in the ecosystem for current and future generations.

At the Vivarium they always look for volunteers with new ideas on how to create awareness in their specialized field of conservation. However, a conservation awareness volunteer does not require any environmental studies or experience. The center needs help from volunteers who enjoy working with various species of animals or are keen to learn how to do so. The volunteer should be flexible in their duties at the center and have good communication skills.

Volunteer Tasks Required

Clean Cages

A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to help with the general duties in the care of the animals at the Vivarium eg. snakes, frogs and lizards. Your main work would be to be sure that each species has a clean environment, water and food.


A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to help in the visitors section of the Vivarium. One of a volunteer's tasks may be to guide the visitors in the center. This would be especially true if the visitors were native to the volunteer's own country.


A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to help the biologist of the Vivarium with their research on various wildlife in Ecuador. This would be especially beneficial to volunteers who are considering a career in animal conservation issues.

Front Desk

A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to be in charge of the front desk or information center once they have been educated to the necessary data for this position.

Host Organization Details

Vivarium de Quito

Vivarium de Quito is a specialized center preserving specimens of amphibians and reptiles, in their optimal conditions. Recognized as one of the largest taxonomic storage centers in Ecuador and home to approximately 10,000 specimens.

The collection covers a very broad taxonomic range; 90% of the known amphibians and reptiles in Ecuador have been preserved, documented and digitized.

A great amount of the data and collection of species have been obtained from: the Amazon region (provinces of Sucumbios, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe), the northwest of Ecuador (especially the provinces of Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and Pichincha) and the South of Ecuador (provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Gold).

Since the creation of the Museum of Amphibians and Reptiles, (FHGO) in 1989, numerous projects have been carried out by this institution, including information and collection of various herpetology fauna specimens. In addition, the Museum of Amphibians and Reptiles, provides a work space for university students and researchers interested in developing projects such as: wet collection taxonomic issues, bio geographic, ecological and natural history of amphibians and reptiles in Ecuador.

The current OBJECTIVES of the Museum are:

1) to focus on the natural history, taxonomy and ecology of reptiles, without neglecting the study of amphibians in collaboration with other research centers. 2) to be recognized as an non government organization working on conservation issues. 3) to collect species that are threatened or ecologically sensitive to the environment and may be affected dramatically by the extraction of other species or environmental change. 4) to maintain a collection of specimens of amphibians and reptiles of Ecuador preserved in optimal conditions and in accordance with international standards. 5) to conduct scientific research through information exchange, loans or other related activities. 6) to support scientific research through the development of projects related to conservation, natural history, ecology, taxonomy, phylogeny, bio geography and biology of amphibians and reptiles of Ecuador. 7) to support education in scientific research, through the participation of university students and foreign researchers interested in learning and understanding amphibians and reptiles of Ecuador. 8) to cooperate in the collection of data, for the publication of the results of research projects.

When They Were Founded

Gustavo Orcés Herpetological Foundation (FHGO) is a non-governmental organization. Created July 5, 1989, with the aim of contributing to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Ecuador through research and education of environmental issues promoting awareness of the rich herpetológy of Ecuador.

The foundation is named in a tribute to the work of DR. GUSTAVO ORCES, who was self-taught and dedicated his life to teaching and research in the field of zoology. Professor Gustavo Orcés, born in the early 20th century in Quito, dedicated his life to an almost symbiotic relationship with scientific research and teaching. He was a college professor for nearly 50 years at the Central University of Ecuador. Founder and ex - director of the Museum of Natural Sciences of the National Polytechnic School, one of the largest in the country. He received a PhD in Natural Sciences after submitting a thesis on marine fish, being the first Latin American to establish a list of this fauna.

How Are They Funded

The Gustavo Orcés Herpetological Foundation receive funding from the Government and some Scientists from the Universities in Ecuador , one of them is Universidad Catolica del Ecuador to help with conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Ecuador.

Placement Location Information

Quito, Ecuador

The park is surrounded by the avenues Shyris, Eloy Alfaro, Amazonas and United Nations.

With 67 hectares of land, this is one of the largest urban parks in the district, the country and South America. During the week, this area hosts regular sportsmen who enjoy the quiet atmosphere offered by the site in the mornings, while on weekends it receives approximately 50,000 people.

Here you can frolic in the gardens or play football, basketball, do aerobic exercises, horseback riding or just walk with your family or friends. The park has soccer, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, as well as bike racing, track skating, bicycle stunts, sports exercise area, playground, exhibition center, five car parking, and a dining and socializing center.

The modern design was created by the Department of City Planning in 1976 and is currently being remodeled.

Transfer From BaseCamp

From Basecamp, walk one block down the street to 6 de diciembre, where you are going to find the Ecovia bus. Pay the .25 fee, and travel to the south of the city. Get off at the Vella Vista Station and walk east from the bus station. You will find Carolinas Park, next to Mall el Jardin.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 10 KM
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 0:15

Weather in the Area

Because Ecuador is located on the Equator line, Quito's weather is very unique. Due to the Equator, Ecuador has no seasons; there is summer and winter. The year has six months winter and six months summer but the number of months for each changes from time to time.

Because Quito is so high up in the mountains, the sun is very strong and the wind blows really hard; it can get pretty cold at night. Quito always has a temperate climate with temperatures ranging from 10 to 27 ° C.

City/Village Description

Quito or also called "Luz de America", is the capital of Ecuador; a country located in South America, on the Equator line. Quito is considered one of the most beautiful cities in South America because of its amazing colonial architecture, historical sites, fantastic landscapes and panoramic views all surrounded by incredible mountains, rivers, parks and volcanoes.

Quito was founded in the 16th century by the Incas Tribe and is located at an altitude of 2,850 meters above sea level.

Centro de Quito, (colonial city) is the largest and best conserved colonial city in South America; this is why the UNESCO named it a "World Cultural Heritage Site" in 1978. The city's structure on the 320 hectare compound is an outstanding example of superb architecture from the sixteenth to the twentieth century; surrounded by volcanic stone with very narrow streets within, (built stone by stone), there is much to see.

The historic centre of Quito has ancient colonial homes, priceless churches, chapels, monasteries, convents, as well as plazas, museums and republican buildings with interesting architecture.

Once outside of the historical centre of the city, Quito takes on a completely different personality in the “new town” where many high rise and government buildings are found.

Though Quito is old and historic, the public transportation is fairly efficient and the city is served by a network of buses that travel throughout most of the areas; it is a cheap way of getting around. Since the city is very long and narrow, it is divided into three zones and many buses run in each zone of the city.

Currently, the heart of the capital is full of vigour and culture, such as "Heritage Nights" where citizens and visitors can enjoy the unique attractions in the, "jewel in the crown of Ecuador", through images and videos.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Clìnica Pichincha
Paez N22-160 y Veintimilla
TEL 1: 593 2 2998-777

Placement Address

Vivarium de Quito
Av . Amazonas 3008
Y Rumipamba

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Ecuador at our BaseCamp Center in Quito. Given that this placement is less than a 1 hour and 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers working here will have the option of living with us at BaseCamp or living with a host family.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Ecuador. Once you have completed our application, you can let our staff know if you would prefer to live with a host family. Otherwise, your application will default to having you live with us at BaseCamp.

If you have any questions about the difference between life at BaseCamp or life with a host family in Ecuador you can always give us a call or send us an email. Our contact details are listed in the footer of every page of the site.

BaseCamp Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador
BaseCamp Ecuador Address

Juan Rodriguez E8 - 72 Y
6 De Diciembre
Quito, Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador Contact Details

Tel: 593 2-254-7737 (Guest House Jazmines)
Mobile: 593-0-998-221-438

BaseCamp Ecuador is located in the trendy Mariscal district of Quito. Within easy walking distance of banks, restaurants, internet cafes and more; BaseCamp in Quito is perfectly situated for any need. Whether you are taking advantage of the rich and vibrant night life of La Mariscal or visiting a local market, BaseCamp Ecuador is always just a few minutes away.

There are six dormitory style guest rooms and five wash-rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There are two common areas on the main floor, including a small resource centre, containing books, magazines, games and other Ecuadorian publications. As well there is a large selection of local movies and documentaries which are available for guest viewing. In addition to the two common areas, BaseCamp Quito has a rooftop terrace, the perfect spot to watch the street come awake with a morning cup of coffee, or spend an afternoon relaxing in the sun.

BaseCamp Quito is also the orientation and training centre for international volunteers visiting Ecuador. In addition to accommodation and meals, BaseCamp Quito also provides volunteers with orientation, Spanish Language training (1 - 8 weeks), placement consultation and work plan seminars, as well as follow up and continued support while volunteers are at their placements. All of these services are available to guests who are interested.

Living With a Host Family in Ecuador

Living with a host family in Ecuador is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Ecuador.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Ecuador

  Registration Fee
  1 Week
  2 Weeks
  3 Weeks
  4 Weeks
  5 Weeks
  6 Weeks
  7 Weeks
  8 Weeks
  Additional Weeks

Ecuador wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried

Program Dates

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Dec 03, 2021 Jan 07, 2022 Feb 04, 2022
Mar 04, 2022 Apr 01, 2022 May 06, 2022
Jun 03, 2022 Jul 01, 2022 Aug 05, 2022
Sep 02, 2022 Oct 07, 2022 Nov 04, 2022
Dec 02, 2022 Jan 06, 2023 Feb 03, 2023
Mar 03, 2023 Apr 07, 2023 May 05, 2023
Jun 02, 2023 Jul 07, 2023 Aug 04, 2023
Sep 01, 2023 Oct 06, 2023 Nov 03, 2023


These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message