Volunteering with animals abroad

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When people think of me they generally think of two things – animals and travel. After all they are my two main loves in life, the two things I know I will never get bored with, so the fact that I can combine the two while also gaining experience for my career ( Veterinary Nurse) is just fantastic. I took my first rehabilitation trip this January where I spent two beautiful weeks in the South African bush working with Chacma baboons, it was one of the best times of my life. I wrote a post about why everyone should volunteer abroad  at least once; whether it is with animals or people, and I honestly believe everyone should – it is such an incredible experience.  Since then I have made a pact with myself that I will try my darn hardest to volunteer at an animal rehabilitation centre around the world at least once every two years, not only will I be gaining invaluable veterinary experience I will also be exploring new parts of the globe for a lot cheaper.  My list of centres I want to visit could already fill the next decade of travel, so I thought I would share some of them with you.

 Where to volunteer abroad with animals:

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre – Borneo
Since working with Baboons I have found a new love for primates. Spending day in, day out with them you learn just how incredibly intelligent these animals are, there is so much more going on than some people care to think. Orangutans are next beautiful primates on my list to help rehabilitate, in Borneo they often fall victim to deforestation or the illegal pet trade but Sepilok are actively working to get these stunning creatures back to the wild.

elephant nature park
The Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai, Thailand
I visited the ENP for a day in 2014 and fell in love, they are doing such beautiful work here. This sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing Elephants from the logging and tourist trade to give them a life of peace, alongside tirelessly educating tourists on the horrors behind riding the Elephants. The ENP have opportunities for volunteers to stay longer durations to help with the gentle giants, and I can not wait to go back as a Veterinary Nurse.

The Rhino Orphanage – Limpopo, South Africa
Unicorns are real, they just have curves and live in South Africa. I am in love with Rhinos, maybe it stems from my love of dinosaurs but there is just something about these magnificent beasts, I just think they are fantastic. I unfortunately never managed to see a wild one on my last visit to South Africa, so it would be a dream to go back to South Africa to help rehabilitate and Nurse the Rhinos. The Rhino orphanage is dedicated to raising Rhino calf’s that have lost their mothers due to poaching, their aim is for all to have a successful release back to the wild.

The Sloth Sanctuary – Columbia, South America
I do not think this one needs much explaining. Sloths kind of scare me a bit, but they also fascinate me, I have spent sometime working with Tamanduas, who are from the same family, and they are amazing little creatures so I really want to do some Veterinary work with Sloths. Also I really want to explore South America so this would be the perfect opportunity. The Sloth Sanctuary in Columbia is doing vital work to help rehabilitate Sloths rescued from the tourist and pet trade.

Australia Wildlife Warriors – Queensland, Australia
Created by the late and great Steve Irwin, the Wildlife Warriors centre is dedicated to rehabilitating all injured and orphaned wildlife that is brought in, from birds to Koalas. I was actually given a rare opportunity to undertake some Veterinary work experience there, but unfortunately had to turn it down due to not being able to get enough time off of work. Since then I am so determined to make time to go work at this beautiful place.

charm baboon
Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) – Phalaborwa, South Africa
I could not do a volunteer post without mentioning CARE, this incredible place stole my heart in January of this year. I still cannot listen to Africa by Toto without welling up! Even though I have already spent a few weeks as a Veterinary Nurse here, I know 100% one day I will go back and do it all over again, hopefully for a longer duration this time as well. I whole heartedly would recommend this place to everyone, the baboons, the people and the incredible location help to make this place perfect.

This is just the very tip of my list and if people want to know of more places please let me know. For most centres you do not need to be veterinary trained to volunteer, although you will do different tasks to the veterinary team you will still get plenty of hands on time with the animals. These experiences can also be added to your C.V if you are planning on getting into a career with animals.
For any centre you decided to volunteer at, please research them throughly before to make sure that their intentions are as good as they make out. For example unfortunately a few of the South African Lion centres provide for the canned hunting trade, but obviously they will not mention that. If you would like a post on how to find a reputable centre to volunteer at please let me know or even about becoming a Veterinary Nurse, I will be happy to do one. 

Let the wild rumpus start!

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where the wild things are

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  • Reply
    March 19, 2016 at 8:33 am

    This is a very helpful post for me as I have been thinking of doing some kind of Volunteer work myself. Your post made me think that I can do this.
    I love your images as well .

    It would be so great if you can help with a few pointers to finding a reputable centre to volunteer at.

    • Reply
      March 19, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Volunteering is the most rewarding experience and a completely new way to travel! I think i will do a post on this, as a lot of people have asked so I will let you know when it is up 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy Trumpeter
    March 19, 2016 at 10:20 am

    That baby Rhino is so cute, and I love the Sloth! I’m thinking of doing a dog rescue project in Thailand, but I will need to see how time goes. I should get my rabies shot if working with animals – I presume that is recommended?

    • Reply
      March 19, 2016 at 11:04 am

      I love the baby rhino!! Yes it is recommended, especially working with stray dogs. If you are looking for other dog charities check out http://www.missionrabies.com they are currently working in India and Malawi, they are an incredible charity!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Interesting. I’ve never thought of volunteering with animals – but it could be a good idea if you have some more time 🙂

  • Reply
    Tess Andrade
    March 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Oh my goodness…the little baby rhino!!!! It’s gotta be one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life! I LOVE animals so much and I love the idea to volunteer at an animal sanctuary. So far I have only volunteered in projects with humans. You have given me some great idea especially for my upcoming Southamerica trip. Thank you for this!

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    March 19, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Sounds like an amazing experience Sam – and all the more awesome an opportunity to add it to your CV. We’ve been wanting to visit Borneo for a while now, and were thinking about 2017 – I had no idea you could actually volunteer there though (the wildlife is our main reason for wanting to go), so perhaps we’ll do this instead of a regular tourist tour.

    Thankyou for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    March 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I think this is a brilliant idea. I have been to an elephant “farm” in India and I felt so sorry for those poor animals. The way they are treated is not fair. But animals in India are not really protected by law unfortunately:(

    How was the experience in the sloth sanctuary? I bet they are lovely creatures

  • Reply
    Marleen Zoë
    May 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    I’m happy to see such a girl like you enjoying the company of animals so much.
    I frankly wouldn’t know what to do if there were no animals on this planet. You sound like some one sincerely into animals.
    I hope your experience was pleasant and I’ll be happy following you on our adventures


    • Reply
      May 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thank you! Such a lovely comment. Yes please do stick around for lots more adventures x

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