Vacations can be a lot more fun when animals are involved. Volunteer vacations offer an excellent opportunity to take a trip that’s good for both you and the animals. In this slideshow, find out fun and exciting ways you can do your part to help animals in different parts of the world from cats in Belize to orangutans in Borneo.
1. Cat Sanctuary in Belize
Imagine yourself on a beautiful tropical island where you are surrounded by cats. Now, that’s heaven for a cat lover. The goal at the Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society on the island of Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize, is to give every cat a forever home in a country where the concept of domesticated cats doesn’t exist. Before being rescued, most of these homeless cats lived in the wild, lurking in the dark, hunting for food and digging in garbage. At the Sanctuary, volunteers get to help with cat care, humane education, construction and gardening among other duties. Accommodations are available.
2. Best Friends Animal Society, Utah, U.S.
Best Friends Animal Society has the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. The sanctuary, located on more than 3,700 acres of red rock canyon country near Kanab, Utah is home to 1,700 rescued animals, all living out their lives in peace. Volunteers can help out in the Cat World (550 to 600 cats), Dogtown (400-450 dogs), Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise, Bunny House, Wild Friends and Rescue Village areas. There is something for everyone. If you really want to help out, volunteer during the winter months when the sanctuary gets less applicants. No fees for volunteering.
3. Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre, Gobabis, Namibia
Imagine the thrill of playing with cheetah babies or feeding a lion cub? Located in the stunning Omaheke Region, the family-run Noah’s Ark has been involved with caring, rehabilitating and housing orphaned, injured, neglected and abandoned wild animals. Animals like the cheetah and leopard are considered pests by farmers trying to protect their livestock. At this Enkosini Eco Experience operated project, get some hands-on experience helping these endangered species at the Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre. Volunteers assist with reintroducing the rehabilitated animals into the wild, building infrastructure to provide a safe home for these animals and assist field guides on daily tours. Cost: $1595, www.enkosiniecoexperience.com/NoahsArk.htm
4. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is home to more than 200 rescued goats, cows, pigs, chickens and more. Located in Upstate New York, this picturesque sanctuary is a perfect getaway from the hustle of the city. Volunteers help with daily chores, and get to hang out with the cool farm animal residents. Guests can stay at the newly opened Bed & Breakfast.
5. Sea Turtle Conservation, Montezuma, Costa Rica
Volunteers stay up overnight to keep a watchful eye on sea turtle eggs on the pristine beaches of Montezuma. Experience the thrill of seeing turtles hatch and crawl towards the ocean in a country known for its conservation. Volunteers also help with collecting eggs from nests on the open beach and placing them in protected areas away from predators. www.basecampvolunteerabroad.com
6. Amazon Rainforest with Biosphere Expeditions, Peru
Go on a wildlife volunteer expedition in the upper Amazon rainforest with Biosphere Expeditions. Volunteers get to experience living and working in the jungle with local biologists on important wildlife surveys of jaguars, pumas, primates and other endangered rainforest species. Participants set camera traps and create databases to record species populations to aid the ongoing conservation efforts. One week costs $1780.
7. Gibbon Conservation Center, Santa Clarita, CA
At the Gibbon Conservation Center, volunteers help care for the nearly 40 gibbons who live at the center. Gibbons are endangered animals and need our help. The center breeds and provides these amazing animals a secure and stimulating environment. The gibbons at the center live in family groups and volunteers get a chance to get up-close and personal with these wild and rare primates. Tasks include providing fresh food and water, cleaning the enclosures, and helping with behavioral observations. A minimum of one-month stay is required. There is no fee and housing is provided on travel trailers.
8. Surin Project, Thailand
Due to dramatic reduction in available legal employment in the logging industry, captive elephants in Thailand are left jobless and their owners with no choice but to feed their families by making their elephants beg for food in tourist areas in cities like Bangkok. To help mahouts and get their elephants away from busy city streets, Elephant Nature Foundation started the Surin Project. Volunteers take the elephants on daily walks to watering holes to get them off their chains. They also plant grass, sugarcane and bamboos and build shelters. Accommodations are provided onsite. The money from the volunteer project provides much needed revenue for the mahouts. Cost is $384 for 6 days and 5 nights.
9. Donkey Sanctuary, Aruba
The Spaniards brought donkeys to the Caribbean island of Aruba 500 years ago. These animals provided the primary mode of transportation until cars began to take over. When Arubans no longer needed them, the donkeys were let go to roam in the wild. Over the years, an increase in vehicles created a hazard for both humans and the donkeys. In 1997, two local islanders gathered a group of supporters and decided to open a sanctuary to save the donkeys. Today, a safe haven exists for the neglected and formerly domestic donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary. Volunteers are always needed to assist the vet, maintain the sanctuary, sell items in the gift store, teach children about donkeys and provide tours.
10. The Great Orangutan Project, Borneo
These all look amazing! They are all sure to give you a mix of relaxation in a beautiful place and since of giving back and helping animals! What a great vacation!Help the endangered orangutans through the Great Orangutan Project at the award-winning Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, Borneo. Get a chance to work behind the scenes helping improve husbandry standards, construction of infrastructure and enrichment of the orangutans in the Kubah National Park which is in the backyard of Matang Wildlife Centre. Volunteer project provides much needed financial and physical assistance to the conservation of orangutans. Accommodations are provided. Two weeks costs $2112.