Animal volunteering abroad is the perfect opportunity for all you animal lovers out there who want to do something good whilst traveling! All over the world, there are animals in need of protection, be it endangered exotic species, street dogs, neglected horses, wildlife or marine animals.Are you fascinated by wild animals? Work for an animal conservation project abroad. Volunteer in Africa, Asia or South America and see your favorite animals in real life. If you love cats and dogs, support an animal shelter and care for abandoned pets and street animals. You’re passionate about marine life? Join a diving and marine conservation project. Take action on conservation and saving animals!
Volunteering with animals abroad is an amazing experience that gives you the possibility to step out of your comfort zone, forget about the daily grind, and become physically active. All over the world, there are animals in need of protection, be it in the desert, forest, ocean, or on the streets. If you have an interest in veterinary medicine, biology or simply love animals and want to give back to them, joining animal volunteer work abroad is the perfect choice for you.
The protection and welfare of all kinds of animals is an important topic that has been internationally recognized and has led to changes in hunting and trading laws as well as regulations about the keeping of animals and animal conservation. However, there are still many dangers for animals both wild and domesticated. Some of the biggest threats are:
The most “famous” example of this sad development is the decline of elephants that are poached for their ivory tusks. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), out of the three to five million elephants roaming our planet in the early 20th century, only 450.000 individuals are left today.
There are many different ways you can contribute to protecting animals. Whether you’re intrigued by wildlife or have a soft spot for stray animals, there are countless animal volunteer opportunities for you to help out.
There are many different approaches to save endangered wildlife. Some animal conservation projects focus on protecting the habitat of the animals while other animal volunteer work focuses on injured and rescued animals in sanctuaries. In some cases, breeding critically endangered animals in a sanctuary environment is the last hope of conserving the species.
A very successful example is the giant panda that has recovered from declining numbers thanks to specialized conservation and breeding efforts.
In many countries worldwide, domesticated animals and pets face a very sad reality as well. Cats, dogs, and other popular pets are being abandoned by their owners and live on the streets where they reproduce and add to the problem of an overflow of street animals. It is estimated that there are about 600 million stray animals worldwide.
In many countries, the governments cannot provide shelters or adoption for these animals so they have to be captured and put down. Larger domesticated animals like horses, goats, or donkeys are being mistreated and neglected by their owners as well and live in unworthy conditions.
As a volunteer working with animals, you have the chance to support on-site teams all over the world in their important work and give mistreated pets a second chance at life.
Social projects are dependent on volunteers in many different areas of animal protection. Take a look at the following categories to find out which animals need your help, what risks they are facing, and what you can do as a volunteer with animals abroad.
As one of the last big secrets that have to be solved on our earth, the ocean still offers a wide range of species and myths, which an animal volunteer can help explore. Many of the species that have been discovered are already endangered due to human influences on the marine ecosystem.
Some of the biggest threats to the inhabitants of our rivers and oceans are:
A lot of species are already affected today and are considered endangered because of their rapidly declining numbers. Some of the marine animals you could be working with during your animal volunteer work abroad are:
Take your chance and get hands-on during beach patrols where you collect sea turtle eggs and help to release the hatchlings once they are big enough to survive in the ocean.
Engage in underwater studies about dolphins, whales and sharks and improve your diving skills at the same time. You will gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the complex interactions between the different species and their habitat that lead to a balanced ecosystem.
To prevent further damage to these endangered species and ensure their sustainable protection, you will also be working closely with coastal communities in environmental education and recycling programs.
If you would like to volunteer with wild animals in an exotic country but you still want to have some interaction with the animals, a primate conservation project is a great animal volunteer opportunity. There are many primate shelters and centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that care for injured monkeys, animals rescued from the illegal pet trade, and orphaned baby monkeys that have lost their mothers due to hunting or other accidents.
Especially the care of baby monkeys is an important cause in most monkey sanctuaries where physical contact and close care is vital to keep the babies alive. Keep in mind however, that adult animals that have a chance of being released back into the wild will be treated like wild animals and no human interaction is allowed. This is necessary to increase their chances of surviving in the wild and not becoming victims of hunting.
Volunteering with primates is also a great way to learn more about daily work at animal sanctuaries and rescue centers. In some projects, you will work directly in the habitat of wild monkeys and great apes, where you’ll be responsible for building hides and look-outs for research as well as for the potential release of primates such as:
You even have the chance to get in contact with the most impressive primate of all: the gorilla that lives in the deep forests of Uganda and Rwanda.
You can make a change by informing locals and tourists alike about the dangers primates are facing and the conservation efforts of your project.
You might think that you have to travel to faraway places and protect endangered wild animals to do your part, but the truth is that cats, dogs, and other pets worldwide are in dire need of care and love from volunteers as well. If you want to have close physical contact with the animals you are working with and you have a lot of love to give, volunteering with animals that live on the streets is just the right way for you to get involved.
Support animal shelters with their day-to-day duties and care for animals that are up for adoption. Some of your tasks for animal volunteer work abroad at a pet rescue center or shelter could be:
If you consider a career in the field of veterinary medicine, volunteering with animals at an animal shelter could be the perfect chance to get an overview of your future work tasks and to become experienced in the handling of different animals. During your animal volunteer work abroad at a shelter, it is very likely that you will not only be working with cats and dogs but other small and big domesticated animals like:
If you are looking for an adventure and you want to work with animals you don’t normally get to see in real life, then take your chance to become a wildlife conservation volunteer abroad. You will get to observe and occasionally interact with wildlife in their natural habitat and help to conduct research on their behavior for conservation measures. Volunteers will be involved in the daily activities of experienced on-site teams and carry out different monitoring and researching tasks.
The variety of animals that you can encounter and work with during a wildlife conservation project is almost unlimited. Whether you’d like to volunteer with injured wildlife at a rescue center in the Latin American jungles or assist in monitoring wildlife behavior in Africa – it’s very easy to find the perfect project match for every volunteer. To give you an idea of the animal variety you could be working with, check out this list of species:
Because animal protection and welfare is an important cause all over the world, there are various destinations that offer you the opportunity to volunteer with animals. Click on the map to see which projects are currently available in your favorite destination.
Volunteering with animals abroad is a great opportunity for everyone who loves animals and wants to give something back to them. It doesn’t matter if you have any experience through having pets or having worked with animals before, as long as you are willing to learn and treat the animals with the necessary respect and caution you are more than welcome to volunteer.
As the main language spoken at most projects abroad is English it is necessary for you to speak at least basic English in order to communicate with your project coordinators and fellow volunteers. Some projects in Latin America will ask you to speak basic Spanish.
Working with animals abroad during your travels or your annual holidays can be a great way to change up your daily routine and you can also bring your friends or family if you’d like.
Many volunteer projects like sea turtle rescues are happy to welcome families with younger children and it is a great way to teach kids about the importance of protecting animals and their surroundings. They will learn a lot about animals, correct animal handling, and the responsibilities that humans have concerning animals, be it caring for a pet at home or taking action to protect animals in the wild.
Volunteer projects working with wild and more dangerous animals accept volunteers from the age of 18 but there is no age limit upwards – as long as you are physically fit and ready for a challenge you are the perfect candidate to volunteer.
However, there are also a lot of animal sanctuaries that work with less dangerous animals accepting international volunteers who are under 18 years old. You can find the specific requirements for each project in their profile on Volunteer World.
Most volunteer programs require a fee to be paid by the volunteer. This is used to cover your accommodation and in some cases, support the organization. There are a number of free animal volunteer opportunities that are perfect for those looking for a low budget way to contribute. You can also use the filter on our platform to search for animal volunteering abroad opportunities within your budget. Our live chat team is happy to assist you with this!
By volunteering with animals in any place or context, you have a direct impact on the situation of the animals you are working with. And not only that, chances are that you also contribute to the protection and well-being of animals in the long run. This alone is a very good reason to volunteer with animals, but of course, there are plenty more.
Volunteering with animals is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. You can give your love to street animals, train them and prepare them for adoption. Especially for those pets that are used to living in a loving home, being abandoned and living in a shelter is a very traumatic experience. They thankfully take every form of interaction and care they can get and you will feel it when you work with them.
You can help to bring awareness to the situation of many endangered species, protect their natural habitat, and resolve human-animal conflicts. Volunteers who engage in a cause like animal protection often spread the word amongst their friends and on social media even after their work on-site has officially ended. This is a great way to show ongoing support for the good cause and can attract future volunteers and donations for your project.
When you volunteer with animals abroad you will meet a lot of different people from all over the world that share one particular interest with you: the protection and well-being of all animals. This common interest and the time you will spend working together will connect you long beyond your volunteering time abroad. But this is not only true for your fellow volunteers.
You’ll be working in close contact with locals, so take the chance to encourage a cultural exchange. You will get a lot of information about cultural habits which will help you to adjust to the country and culture you are working in. This will definitely broaden your horizon and be a great way to find new friends at the same time. You also know that your effort makes a meaningful difference, which is not only a personal benefit for you but for the whole community.
By volunteering with animals, you also get the chance to try out your dream career without making a long-term commitment.
Gain knowledge about scientific research methods, zoology or veterinary medicine. If you already have certain skills in these areas, you can easily extend them and gain new experiences that will also look great on your CV. Some of the jobs where they will come in handy are:
So you’re ready to volunteer with animals but you’re not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your animal volunteer program abroad and an unforgettable adventure:
We recommend getting both health and travel insurance. In fact, this is even a requirement for most programs abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.
Once you know your destination, take the following 3 steps before setting off on your life-changing adventure!