Why not put your passion for wildlife into action? Volunteering with animals abroad can greatly benefit those creatures you love. The World Wildlife Fund’s list of endangered species shows animals across the globe need help. And there are plenty of exotic animal volunteer opportunities – whether you’d like to volunteer with savannah animals as a wildlife sanctuary volunteer abroad, or just volunteer in Africa with animals in their natural habitats in other regions, there are so many opportunities. Without further ado, let’s get you started on finding the right animal volunteer program.
Animal Volunteer Duties
Generally, the main goal of animal volunteer abroad programs is to enable the species to live naturally in their native habitats. Your duties may include:
- Hands-on care for animals
- Community outreach to raise awareness
- Assistance with wildlife park management, such as anti-poaching patrols
- Restoring habitats, such as reforestation
Here, we’ve listed popular programs across six continents and regions below:
Volunteer with Animals in Africa
Africa is a diverse continent with an amazing mix of cultures, traditions, landscapes, and wildlife. You have many options for volunteering with animals in Africa, from shark conservation in South Africa to black rhino conservation in Zimbabwe. Taking time to volunteer in Africa with animals can be an incredibly rewarding experience – below are a few Africa volunteer programs that involve animals.
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Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) is an award-winning organization committed to affordable, adventurous volunteer opportunities. When it comes to volunteering with animals in Africa, Plan My Gap Year has some of the most extensive offerings.
One PMGY program for volunteer work in Africa with animals is their South Africa Big 5 Wildlife Experience. An animal lover’s dream, this program involves hands-on conservation work with animals in Africa, including savannah animals like lions, or even tigers, wild dogs, and more (starts at $435). This program lasts one to 12 weeks.
Volunteer with Animals in Asia
Home to a diverse range of bustling cities and gorgeous natural areas, Asia is truly a great place to volunteer with animals. You have ample options, from caring for elephants in Thailand to protecting sea turtles in Sri Lanka.
Since 2007, International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) has built a great reputation for sustainable, responsible travel initiatives. For volunteering with animals in Asia, this organization is great.
Popular IVHQ programs include:
Volunteer with Animals in South America
With the Amazon River, Galapagos Islands and other epic natural scenes in South America, the continent is truly an exciting destination for wildlife volunteering. There are lots of great programs, like this wildlife research project in Guyana or this jungle reforestation effort in Peru.
Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers has become a highly respected organization because of its commitment to transparency and cost-effective volunteering. You can’t go wrong with them.
Popular Love Volunteers programs include:
- Amazon Animal Conservation in Ecuador: Journey to Pastaza Province to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals. The program lasts from two to 12 weeks, starting at just $679.
- Animal Rescue Program in Argentina: Work at a shelter in Buenos Aires, taking care of animals that have been abandoned and/or abused. The program lasts one to 12 weeks, starting at only $519.
Volunteer with Animals in North and Central America
In North and Central America, you can encounter everything from polar bears in Churchill, Canada, to ocelots across eastern Mexico. Wonderful volunteer project on this continent abound.
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel runs internationally accredited programs in Central America. Their environmental conservation initiatives in the region have earned them much praise.
Popular Maximo Nivel programs include:
Volunteer with Animals in Europe
Beyond the charming historic cities, Europe boasts natural wonders and amazing wildlife. Do everything from protecting biodiversity in Spain to support wolf conservation in Portugal.
Since 1998, Global Vision International (GVI) has been running high-quality conservation programs. They’re one of the industry’s most trusted names.
One very popular GVI program is the Sea Turtle Conservation Internship in Greece. Head to beautiful Kyparissia Bay, and protect and research one of the most important Loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas in the world. The program lasts six to 12 weeks (priced from $4,195).
Volunteer with Animals in Australia and the Pacific Islands
Koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, Tasmanian devils and more await you in Australia — a continent full of awesome wildlife. Protect the region’s creatures through any one of the numerous conservation projects, like these various opportunities for volunteering with animals in Fiji.
Frontier manages over 400 projects worldwide and has a range of initiatives going on across Australia and the Pacific currently. They’re a great organization if you want to immerse yourself in local culture while volunteering with animals.
Popular Frontier programs include:
- New Zealand Ethical Conservation: Restore and protect the country’s rich natural environment and unique native species. Costs start at $1,045 for two weeks (lasts up to six weeks or longer).
- Kangaroo Island Koalas and Conservation: Assist in the conservation of Australia’s most endangered species, including the koala. The program lasts two weeks and costs $1,395.
Find the Right Volunteer Program with Animals
No matter where you are or where you want to go, you can find a suitable volunteer program with animals, whether it’s contributing to sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica or working with lemurs in Madagascar. Exotic animal volunteer opportunities await if you research and apply. You might like to be a wildlife sanctuary volunteer abroad, work with savannah animals, or volunteer abroad helping primates in Asia.
Look for the program that matches your interests, passion, and budget — and start your search as early as possible. You’ll find your dream animal volunteer program.
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.