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The Animal Lover’s Guide to The Best Animal Volunteering Abroad

Written By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer

Volunteering with animals offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, contribute to conservation efforts, and learn valuable skills. Whether you’re assisting in the rehabilitation of endangered species, caring for domestic animals, or participating in wildlife research, your efforts can make a significant impact on the lives of animals and the environment. This article explores the benefits of volunteering with animals, what you can learn from the experience, and how to get involved in both local and international programs.

Why Volunteer with Animals?


Volunteering with animals is a rewarding experience that allows you to connect with nature and help those who can’t speak for themselves. Whether it’s rescuing injured wildlife, rehabilitating endangered species, or simply providing care and companionship, your efforts can make a significant difference in the lives of animals. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to contribute to conservation efforts and learn about the importance of preserving biodiversity.

What Does Volunteering with Animals Teach You?

Volunteering with animals teaches you compassion, responsibility, and the value of hard work. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of animal behavior and the challenges faced by wildlife and domestic animals. It’s also a chance to develop skills in animal care, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are valuable in various aspects of life and career.

How to Volunteer with Animals


Volunteering with animals teaches you compassion, responsibility, and the value of hard work. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of animal behavior and the challenges faced by wildlife and domestic animals. It’s also a chance to develop skills in animal care, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are valuable in various aspects of life and career.

How to Volunteer with Animals

To volunteer with animals, start by researching organizations that align with your interests, whether it’s local shelters, wildlife conservation groups, or international animal welfare organizations. Many programs welcome volunteers of various ages, including opportunities for teens, retirees, or going as a family.  


For those specifically interested in helping endangered animals, look for organizations that focus on conservation and rehabilitation efforts. These programs often involve working in reserves or sanctuaries in regions such as Africa, Costa Rica, or Australia, where you can contribute to protecting species at risk.

Where to Volunteer with Animals?

There are numerous places to volunteer with animals, both locally and internationally. Some popular destinations include:

Australia: Engage in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, especially in regions like the Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Perth.

Africa: Participate in conservation projects with animals like elephants, lions, and rhinos in countries like South Africa and Kenya.

Costa Rica: Assist in preserving the rich biodiversity, including sea turtles, monkeys, and exotic birds.

Europe: Contribute to various animal welfare initiatives in countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Can I Volunteer with Animals Abroad for Free?


It’s important to understand that reputable volunteer programs abroad typically require a fee. This fee helps cover the costs of hosting volunteers, such as accommodation, meals, and project expenses. Additionally, paying to volunteer supports the ethical and sustainable operation of these programs. It ensures that the organizations can continue their conservation and animal welfare efforts without diverting resources from their primary mission. 

Some programs may offer scholarships or fundraising assistance to help with costs, but it’s rare to find opportunities to volunteer with animals abroad completely for free. When researching programs, it’s crucial to consider the reputation of the organization and how transparent they are with costs, ensuring that your contributions are genuinely making a positive impact.

Animal Volunteer Programs Abroad


Explore the following reputable providers with great programs that allow you to volunteer with animals worldwide!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Volunteer with animals through IVHQ and contribute to wildlife preservation and animal care with over 30 programs in 22 destinations. Learn from local experts and enjoy a fully hosted experience with accommodations and 24/7 support. Make a difference for species like elephants, rhinos, wolves, and domestic animals with IVHQ’s affordable and impactful volunteer opportunities.

dog shelter volunteer in

Here are our top picks for IVHQ animal volunteering programs:

  • Animal Care Volunteer Project in Costa Rica: Assist at horse therapy centers and animal welfare initiatives in San José, caring for and rehoming abandoned animals while experiencing Costa Rican culture and landscapes.
  • Animal Care Volunteer Project in South Africa: Work at an animal shelter in Cape Town catering to neglected cats and dogs, providing care and companionship, and aiding in their rehoming process in a coastal surfing town.
  • Animal Care Volunteer Project in Thailand: Support the welfare of abandoned dogs and cats in a natural environment, contributing to their health and potential adoption, while embracing Thai culture and landscapes in Chiang Rai.
  • Animal Care Volunteer Project in Mexico: Help non-profit organizations care for stray and abandoned cats and dogs in Mérida, improving their chances of finding new homes in the community while exploring Mayan culture.
  • Elephant Welfare Volunteering in Sri Lanka: Contribute to the well-being of domesticated elephants subjected to harsh working conditions at a sanctuary in Randeniya, and raise awareness of elephant welfare through English teaching at a local school.


Volunteer with animals through GoEco and embark on a journey that combines adventure, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to make a tangible impact. As a wildlife volunteer, you’ll experience life as a local and contribute to the well-being of animals in need. GoEco offers a unique chance to explore new countries, develop valuable skills, and find fulfillment in helping others, all while being part of a global community of like-minded individuals.

volunteer at koala sanctuary

Discover our favorite GoEco animal volunteering opportunities:

  • Australia – Wildlife Animal Sanctuary: Volunteer at a Heritage Listed wildlife sanctuary near Sydney, providing a lifelong home for rescued animals and breeding endangered species. Work with koalas, kangaroos, and other native wildlife in 170 acres of natural bushland.
  • Costa Rica – Animal Rescue and Conservation: Help care for sloths and other indigenous animals at a renowned wildlife rescue sanctuary in Costa Rica. Gain hands-on experience and contribute to conservation efforts while immersing yourself in Spanish language and culture.
  • South Africa – African Wildlife Ranch: Join conservation efforts and work closely with African animals at a widely accredited wildlife ranch. Gain experience in animal care, participate in community projects, and enjoy cage diving with crocodiles.
  • Thailand – Asian Wildlife Rescue Center: Volunteer at a Wildlife Rescue Centre in Southern Thailand, providing care and rehabilitation for threatened animals. Learn practical wildlife welfare skills and explore Thailand’s largest national park and nearby beaches during your time off.
  • Portugal – Wolf Conservation and Lisbon Experience: Contribute to wolf conservation in Portugal while experiencing the vibrant city of Lisbon. Work at a wolf reserve in the Greater Lisbon Area, helping with food preparation, feeding, monitoring, and habitat maintenance.

Maximo Nivel 

Volunteer with animals through Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, and make a real impact in Latin America. Join community projects and immerse yourself in the local culture. Enjoy all-inclusive programs, professional field management, and 24/7 support, with the opportunity to earn academic credit for your service. Experience a life-changing journey with a locally-based organization committed to sustainable volunteering.


Explore our top selections for animal volunteering with Maximo Nivel:

  • Animal Care Volunteer Projects: Volunteer with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru to support animal welfare initiatives, including working in shelters, rescue centers, and farms, assisting with medical care, rehabilitation, and education efforts.
  • Sea Turtle Conservation Projects: Join Maximo Nivel’s Sea Turtle Conservation projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala to help increase the survival rate of baby sea turtles through activities such as hatchery management, beach patrols, and community outreach.
  • Veterinary Internships in Latin America: If you’re an aspiring veterinarian, participate in veterinary internships with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, gaining hands-on experience in animal healthcare, assisting with examinations, surgeries, and community education on proper animal care.

Projects Abroad

Volunteer with Projects Abroad in wildlife conservation programs across diverse environments like the savanna, rainforest, and islands. Work alongside international teams to protect endangered animals and ecosystems, all while living and learning in some of the world’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. Enjoy ethical and sustainable volunteering that makes a real impact on the preservation of nature.

Volunteer Forever - Peru

Check out our preferred Projects Abroad programs for volunteering with animals:

  • Giraffe & Lion Conservation in Kenya: Join the conservation efforts in Kenya’s Soysambu Conservancy to protect the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and lions, participate in research and community outreach, and live alongside other volunteers in a ranch house for an immersive African adventure.
  • Volunteering with Wildlife in Botswana for Teenagers: Work on a reserve in Botswana to conserve wildlife and ecosystems, focusing on elephants, leopards, lions, and giraffes, while engaging in activities like building waterholes and tracking animals, and living with other teenagers at a camp near the Limpopo River.
  • Rhino Conservation in Nepal for Teenagers: Help protect the greater one-horned rhino in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park through tracking, data collection, and anti-poaching patrols, conduct surveys of birds and butterflies, and live with other teenagers in the park’s Community Forest.
  • Volunteer with Animals in South Africa: Gain practical experience working with abused domestic animals or injured seabirds at a shelter or rehabilitation center in South Africa, assist in animal care and rehabilitation, and live with a host family to explore local culture.
  • Veterinary Medicine Internship in Romania: Observe and learn from local vets at a veterinary clinic in Brasov, Romania, assist with medical procedures and animal care, and live with a Romanian host family to gain practical veterinary medicine experience and explore Eastern European life.

African Impact

Volunteer with African Impact in veterinary and animal care programs across Africa to support wildlife conservation efforts. Gain unique practical experience with African wildlife, help rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals, and work in stunning natural environments. Contribute to ecosystem restoration, big cat research, and the protection of endangered species while living in the African bush or coastal areas. Enjoy the support of experienced field teams and make life-long memories as you embrace the adventure of wildlife conservation volunteering.

Big Cat Conservation

Dive into our top picks for engaging in animal volunteer work with African Impact:

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Project in South Africa: Join the rescue and release team at a wildlife rehabilitation center near Kruger National Park to care for injured and lost wildlife, with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat.
  • Wildlife Veterinary Program in South Africa: Gain hands-on experience in wildlife capture and veterinary procedures, working alongside South African wildlife veterinary professionals, and contribute to wildlife conservation efforts through population management and breeding initiatives.
  • Horse Riding and Hands-on Elephant and Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe: Contribute to the conservation of endangered rhinos and elephants at Imire Conservancy in Zimbabwe, engaging in conservancy monitoring, anti-poaching efforts, and community education while riding horses.
  • African Big 5 Volunteering Project in South Africa: Immerse yourself in the African bush and contribute to the conservation of the Big 5 (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo) through animal tracking, monitoring, and data collection in the Greater Kruger Area.
  • Big Cat & Elephant Research and Conservation in Kenya: Conduct applied wildlife research on lions, cheetahs, and elephants in the Pardamat Conservation Area within the Greater Maasai Mara Ecosystem, contributing to long-term conservation and conservancy management plans.

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

Volunteer with Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) on animal welfare projects abroad, whether you’re a veterinary professional or an animal lover. IVI offers a variety of programs focusing on the responsible treatment of wildlife while providing support and hands-on experience for volunteers.


Take a look at our favorite animal volunteering programs offered by IVI:

  • Lemur Conservation: Volunteer at a local reserve in Nosy Be Island, Madagascar, to assist with the care and rehabilitation of native lemurs. Duties include feeding, cleaning cages, maintaining enclosures, and planting trees for natural food sources. Help preserve Madagascar’s unique wildlife and contribute to ecological research and conservation efforts.
  • Turtle Conservation: Assist in increasing the birth rate and survival of turtle hatchlings in Costa Rica. Support local biologists and researchers with hatchery management, beach patrols, data collection, and community education. Contribute to protecting natural habitats and maintaining marine ecosystems.
  • Alpaca and Llama Farm: Volunteer at a family-run farm in Cusco, Peru, caring for alpacas and llamas. Support the farm’s operations and help with the production and distribution of Peruvian textiles made from the animals’ wool. Assist with educational outreach about the importance of these animals in Peru.
  • Volunteering for Animals: Assist at local animal shelters in Nadi and Lautoka, Fiji, providing care for unwanted animals. Get involved in community education, outreach, and adoption services. Depending on experience, assist with medical procedures and help educate the community about animal welfare.
  • Stray Dog Rehabilitation: Work at dog rehabilitation centers in Kathmandu, Nepal, to care for abandoned and mistreated stray dogs. Socialize, clean, feed, and care for the dogs, preparing them for potential adoption. Participate in community outreach programs to educate about the importance of animal welfare.

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)

Volunteering Solutions offers Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Abroad Programs for animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. These affordable programs provide the opportunity to live amidst nature, work with animals and professional conservationists, and contribute to their well-being. 


Here’s our curated list of VolSol programs for animal volunteering:

  • Animal Rescue Center in Alajuela, Costa Rica: Assist with the care, rehabilitation, and study of Costa Rican wildlife. Volunteers contribute to the treatment of injured, sick, and orphaned animals and support their release back into the wild. Tasks include feeding animals, cleaning enclosures, and assisting with rehabilitation efforts. Volunteers work alongside a team of experts and gain valuable experience in wildlife conservation.
  • Volunteer with Elephants: At an elephant village in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where responsibilities include working with mahouts, collecting elephant feed, assisting with vitamins, taking elephants for walks and baths, and caring for baby elephants. Volunteers also make organic products from elephant waste. This program is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts and those willing to do outdoor hard work.
  • Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Program in Yackandandah, Australia: Care for injured and orphaned native animals at a local wildlife shelter. Volunteers assist with feeding, cleaning, maintenance, and enrichment work. This opportunity provides first-hand work experience and the chance to meet new friends from around the world while contributing to Australian wildlife welfare.
  • Penguin and Marine Bird Rescue Center in Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Work with vulnerable African Penguins and other marine birds. Duties include feeding penguins, preparing their feed, cleaning the area, and participating in Sea School and Bird School. This unique opportunity allows volunteers to make conservation efforts for marine life and explore the diverse Algoa Bay.
  • Family Volunteer Adventure in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia: Work on wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, community development, and education. This program is designed for families to actively participate in conservation efforts, learn about rainforest animals, and explore the picturesque destination of Sabah. Volunteers gain international work experience and contribute to the well-being of the region’s flora and fauna.

Global Vision International (GVI)

GVI’s wildlife conservation programs offer the opportunity to study and protect animals in breathtaking remote wildernesses. GVI ensures ethical animal interaction and impactful volunteering, aligned with global conservation standards.

volunteer in Thailand with GVI

Discover our choice picks for animal volunteer work with GVI:

  • Sea Turtle and Marine Conservation Teen Volunteering: Join a teen volunteer project in Kefalonia, Greece, to conserve loggerhead turtles, monitor nesting activities, protect hatchlings, survey seagrass meadows, and collaborate with local organizations to protect turtle habitats.
  • Dolphin and Whale Conservation Teen Volunteering: Volunteer in Tenerife, Canary Islands, to conserve cetaceans, collect data on whales and dolphins, learn about conservation challenges, and share sustainable travel and conservation information with the public.
  • Wild Cat Conservation: Research wild jungle cats in Costa Rica’s Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve by setting up camera traps, collecting data on cat behavior, and contributing to conservation strategies and awareness programs.
  • Volunteer with Elephants: Support community efforts in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand, to reintegrate elephants previously used in the tourism industry, monitor their behavior, and work alongside mahouts and locals to establish alternative livelihoods.
  • Big Cat Conservation Research: Participate in big cat conservation research in South Africa by collecting data on lions, cheetahs, leopards, and their prey, assisting with spatial utilization, interactions, and predator impact monitoring.

Paws, Claws, and Conservation

Volunteering with animals presents an extraordinary opportunity to forge a deep connection with the natural world, contribute to vital conservation efforts, and acquire invaluable skills. Whether you’re working hands-on with animals in your local community or participating in international wildlife conservation projects, your contributions have the power to bring about positive change. 


By dedicating your time and energy to volunteer with animals, you not only aid in the preservation of biodiversity but also embark on a journey of personal growth and fulfillment. So, take the leap, explore the diverse opportunities available, and make a lasting impact on the lives of animals.