If you love to travel, and you love to support animal rescue groups, becoming a volunteer abroad is for you!
Being a volunteer abroad when you choose a truly eco-friendly organization, is a rewarding experience that lets you experience a very special part of the world, and leave a lasting and positive impact.
We all gripe that tourism is ruining the world. How incredible monuments and historic sites are overrun with tourists and vendors hawking cheap trinkets. Well, consider doing something different the next time you travel.
Consider a volunteer vacation and get ready for a truly, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Efforts to provide quality and sustainable care to endangered animals or animals involved in animal tourism are thriving around the world. You can be a part of the meaningful work by choosing to take a volunteer vacation the next time the travel bug hits.
We’ve compiled a list of nine animal volunteer travel opportunities that actually help support conservation efforts instead of contributing to the problem.
Wait until you learn about the dancing bears rescued from the streets of India, the last breed of wild horses in Mongolia, donkey assisted therapy in the UK, collecting turtle eggs on a secluded island in Nicaragua, and many more!
These animals need your help, and the organizations are eager for volunteers.
GIVE volunteers can help with the Endangered Hawksbill Turtle Conservation project in Nicaragua. These turtles have been pushed near extinction because of poaching and habitat destruction.
Volunteer alongside a local research team and venture to one of the most critical nesting sites in Central America to collect endangered turtle eggs and protect them from predators until they are ready to hatch and to be released.
ISV partners with numerous conservation organizations in Thailand to support operations rescuing and rehabilitating elephants and other wildlife. Thailand has a huge, illegal, exotic animal trade, so ISV also needs volunteers to assist with conservation, education and outreach to the community for sustainability and lasting impact.
Volunteers provide vital assistance when they help with feeding and bathing the elephants, and maintaining and enriching their habitat. The centers promote positive animal-based tourism, and volunteers have the opportunity to work with a sanctuary that cares for sick, abused and disabled elephants as well.
Workaway is a unique organization that matches host families with volunteers. You can spend hours searching their seemingly endless database of amazing, free, volunteer opportunities around the world.
One such opportunity is living on a family farm in Finnish Lapland and helping take care of huskies, which includes, feeding, grooming and training. You will also be an integral part of helping with their tourism business and Husky Safaris, so you can expect to be doing laundry and preparing meals for guests as well.
You’ll get to enjoy a remote and beautiful part of the countryside, as well as indulge in the sauna! Free time includes visits to national parks, spas, learning about gold panning, and skiing or snowshoeing.
Live in a yurt and help monitor the Tahki, a rare and endangered subspecies of horse native to the steppes of central Asia. The data and information you collect is used by biologists and researchers help them manage the reintroduction of the Tahki into the wild. These majestic horses are the last remaining breed of wild horses, and an important part of Mongolian culture.
Volunteer activities include: observing horses in the field, noting behavior and growth of foals, and population and distribution of horses. You will also be able to ride horses and participate in opportunities to teach English to local children.
Kangaroo Island is called the Galapagos of Australia. The Hanson Bay Sanctuary is the best place to see a sustainable habitat of koalas in Australia, and as a volunteer you can help with monitoring koalas and other wildlife. They are home to the only pure strain ligurian bee stock, and produce gallons of unique, organic honeys to help support flora and fauna conservation and rescue projects.
Hanson Bay needs help with beekeeping, surveying, photographing, planting trees, assisting with tourists, seed collection, and many other tasks. In your free time, you can swim or fish on the beautiful beaches, go Bush walking, visit caves and the National Park, visit seals or dive with dolphins.
Panda International helps to preserve the numerous Panda Reserves in China through captive breeding, habitat restoration, veterinary care for wild and captive pandas, and re-introduction into the wild. They always welcome volunteers.
You can help as a volunteer by prepping food and feeding the pandas, carrying bamboo, scooping poop, and many other helpful tasks to keep the centers running smoothly.
Please remember to visit pandas in reserves, and say no to travel trekking tours to see a panda in the wild. Trekking contributes to habitat destruction, which perpetuates the endangerment of these beautiful creatures.
Animal Kingdom Foundation, Inc has rescued more than 7,000 dogs from the illegal dog meat trade in the Philippines. Help them promote an animal-welfare-conscious-society, and work to educate people that dogs are pets and not food.
As a volunteer abroad, you can help rescue the animals doomed to slaughter, and provide rehabilitative services to prepare them for re-homing and adoption. You can also participate in community education projects to support animal welfare awareness.
The Donkey Sanctuary has six UK locations that offer donkey assisted therapy to children and adults with special needs. They are warm, affectionate animals that have a calming influence on people, and help boost confidence and self-esteem.
Volunteer with the mobile units and take the donkeys to visit people in the community, assist with grooming and riding instruction, or help with fundraising tasks, and office needs.
As of 2009, all dancing bears were rescued from the streets of India. Now, they are being rehabilitated for physical and emotional trauma in safe and beautiful sanctuaries. Many of the sloth bears need surgery and medical attention from the atrocities they suffered. These sloth bears will never be able to reintegrate into the wild, but the sanctuary provides a safe haven where they can live free from fear and pain.
As a volunteer abroad, you can assist with food prep and distribution, maintenance of enclosures, ground care and numerous other tasks. If you can’t volunteer abroad, consider Adopting a sloth bear and become a vital part of their care team through a generous donation.
To volunteer abroad with the Agra Bear Sanctuary, you must sign-up here through Wildlife SOS where you will also have the chance to volunteer with rescued elephants as well. Or, by emailing the International Animal Rescue team to see what current volunteer opportunities they have available.
Travel Volunteers are a Vital Part of Sustainable Animal Conservation
As you can see, there really is something for everyone when it comes to travel and volunteer opportunities. Feeling the wanderlust? Invest in animal welfare and consider a volunteer vacation. These organizations rely on the help of people like you to keep their operations going.
Remember to do your research on conservation organizations, so you can rest assured you are helping a group committed to sustainable care, and not perpetuating the destruction of ecosystems or animal endangerment that comes from the animal tourism industry.
Do you know about other great opportunities to volunteer abroad or nationally with animals ? Leave a comment and let us know about your experience with volunteer tourism, animal conservation, and travel volunteer opportunities!