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Deep in the depths of the Guatemalan jungle, something quite marvellous is afoot. But like every heroic story, its origins lie in adversity and darkness. For decades, the menagerie of weird, wild and wonderful animals which call this tropical rainforest their home have had to evade the constant threat of predators, not least among them man.

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Opportunistic poachers are always on the lookout for exotic creatures to capture and sell into the illegal pet trade, spelling troubled times for the hapless beasts. Fortunately, for every unscrupulous villain there appear to be ten heroes, as is evidenced by the existence of ARCAS rescue centre.

Founded in 1989 by concerned local citizens, the sanctuary focuses on rescuing and rehabilitating some of the most majestic (but unfortunately maltreated) animals on this planet. Deer, cheetahs, anteaters, monkeys, macaws, turtles, alligators… all kinds of creatures are catered for at this modern-day Noah’s Ark which works tirelessly to ensure that each and every beast which comes into its custody receives the best possible care and the best possible chance at returning to its natural habitat.

Of course, they can’t achieve such a praiseworthy feat singlehandedly. Every year, the centre welcomes over 500 volunteers who give up their time and a small donation to help out around the sanctuary. What do they receive in return? That’s easy – an invaluable, unforgettable opportunity to experience these wild animals first hand and play a meaningful role in nursing them back to health.

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With three locations in Hawaii, Guatemala City and the thick of the rainforest in Petén, this non-profit NGO makes a real difference to countless animal lives… and you can too. It’s one investment you certainly won’t regret.

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