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Voluntourism: Wild Animals

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For animal lovers there are few experiences more rewarding than devoting some vacation time to helping creatures in need. Here we cover voluntourism options at wild animal sanctuaries and zoos around the world, places that are helping animals that cannot survive in the wild. To volunteer with organizations helping save stray dogs around the world, see the Helping Hounds list.
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209/2 Sridom Chai Road, ตำบล กื้ดช้าง อำเภอ แม่แตง เชียงใหม่ 50100, Thailand
Learn about the history of elephants in Thailand, feed the elephants by hand, learn commands for controlling an elephant, ride bareback through the countryside, and finally spend some time in a small pond bathing your elephant. Baan Chang Elephant...
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Siberian Federal District, Russia
In Land Rovers and on foot, climb Central Asia’s mountains in pursuit of snow leopards. Volunteers search for the elusive green-eyed cats by tracking their footprints, scat, and prey: the argali (mountain sheep) and the Altai ibex. The expeditions...
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Kaya IR. Randolph Statius van Eps, Kralendijk, Caribbean Netherlands
Visitors can drive through the sanctuary in their vehicle (very slowly to avoid accidents) and be greeted by hundreds of donkeys. They come to the cars, sniff your belonging, give you kisses, and rub against your door. The donkeys here are not...
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Hluhluwe, 3960, South Africa
“Don’t move!” I was told. Perhaps that’s an odd highlight for a trip, the moments when you must remain stock still against the strong intuition to belago, run like hell. Yet these were the most exhilarating for me as a volunteer taking census data...
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South East Asia
This riverside orangutan rehabilitation camp is usually reachable only by boat. For times when the Sekonyer Kanan River runs dry, volunteers are building a 2.5-mile boardwalk to the camp. Workers are often approached by two curious orangutans, a...
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1 Rivier Street, Van Zylsrus, 8467, South Africa
Just south of the Botswana border, in the Kuruman River Reserve, you’ll find meerkats so friendly they occasionally jump on volunteers’ heads. Visitors study the effects of the mammals’ cooperative breeding, in which adults help raise each other’s...
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Entebbe, Uganda
In February 2013, my husband Michael and I set off on an 8-month trip around the world. Here’s one of the many highlights of our adventure… After going on a safari and gorilla trek where we observed wildlife at a distance, we met animals up close...
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4004 E 800 N, Battle Ground, IN 47920, USA
There are not many places where one can be a few feet away from a pack of hungry wolves and not feel like 'dinner', but Wolf Park, in Battleground, IN happens to be one of them. The center is home to research on wolf behavior -- its employees and...
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Rio Frio
I went to Costa Rica for the animals. So after a week of tour guides showing me nothing more interesting than a giant millipede (which was, granted, very cool), I felt a little disappointed. At week's end we ventured to Los Chiles, where we would...
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Volunteering in this place was amazing. It's a camp close to guarayos in the middle of the jungle. Parque Ambue Ari is one of three parks in Bolivia. The organization Communidad Inti Wara Yassi gets felines like jaguars, pumas and ocelots as well...
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The Bahamas
The Exumas are a stunning archipelago of remote islands and cays strung between Nassau and Long Island, and around a dozen of these tiny islands are protected within the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. Established in 1958 as a...
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Brisbane QLD, Australia

Koalas, koalas, koalas! The world’s first (founded in 1927) and largest koala sanctuary is home to more than 130 of the cuddly creatures—which are actually marsupials, not bears. The naturally landscaped reserve, 12 kilometers (7.5...

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2999 Co Rd 53, Keenesburg, CO 80643, USA
The elevated walkway ascends from the Wild Animal Sanctuary gift shop and orientation point. We step up the inclined path, passing above lazing leopards, tigers and mountain lions below, then continue past a green arrow pointing to the Bolivian...
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Tena, Ecuador
A highlight while staying in the Ecuadorian Amazon was our visit to a private wildlife preserve that also houses an animal rescue center named, appropriately, amaZOOnico. We were lucky enough to get a private tour and learn about their mission to...