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.
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.
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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