Volunteer with animals

Help protect endangered species and habitats.

Ecosystems like rainforests, tropical islands and mountainous cloud forests aren’t usually just beyond your doorstep. Here’s your chance to work on conservation projects grounded in science, help change the world ethically, and come face-to-face with some of the world’s rarest animals in remote, thrilling and beautiful habitats.

Overview

How can I volunteer to care for animals around the world? 

Are you an animal lover looking to volunteer with animals abroad? 

There are many different ways to volunteer to help animals around the world. Some organisations offer volunteer opportunities that involve working with wildlife in their natural habitats. Other organisations offer opportunities to work with domesticated animals in shelters or sanctuaries, such as volunteering at an animal rescue centre. 

At GVI, we offer you an animal care volunteer experience with a difference you’ll join cutting-edge conservation research teams alongside like-minded, passionate people from all over the world on remote research stations in the heart of wildernesses all over the globe: 

 

Who can volunteer to care for animals around the world? 

Our animal care volunteer abroad programs are open to anyone who wants to make a difference while they travel and is interested in animal welfare and conservation. Animal care volunteers could be: 

  • Curious young people: Who want to get hands-on experience working with animals in a conservation setting, which can be invaluable for developing an understanding of the challenges facing wildlife and the methods used to protect them
  • Students taking a gap year: Students who want to build relationships with professionals in the field and gain insight into potential career paths and develop skills in teamwork, communication and problem-solving that are applicable to a wide range of careers in conservation and beyond.
  • Career breakers: Anyone who wants to take a break from their current industry and travel abroad to dedicate time to a new cause like animal welfare and rehabilitation.
  • Older adults looking for the thrill of a lifetime: There is at least one cliche that proves true: it’s never too late. None of our volunteer programs for adults have a maximum age restriction. That means we have plenty of over 50s volunteering options available. No experience or specific qualifications are required and all necessary training is provided on the program. The only requirement is that you’re keen, passionate about making a difference, and ready for a change.
  • Conservation researchers: For researchers who want to get out of the library and into the field to gain practical experience collecting data on their focus species for their thesis, dissertation or research paper, access to expert training and exclusive data sets, or publish or co-author a research paper, we offer animal care research fellowships. Find out more here.

 

Where can I volunteer to care for animals around the world? 

GVI offers animal care volunteering programs in the following locations: 

 

What kind of animal care will I provide?

This varies from project to project. Some examples of animal care activities you may be involved include:

  • Feeding and watering animals.
  • Cleaning animal enclosures and habitats.
  • Providing medical care and administering medication.
  • Helping with animal enrichment activities.
  • Assisting with rescues and releases.
  • Educating the public about animal welfare and conservation.

 

What are the benefits of animal care volunteering?

Animal care volunteering offers a range of benefits, both for the animals you’ll be working with and for yourself. Some of the benefits include:

  • Making a difference in the lives of animals in need.
  • Gaining hands-on experience with animal care and welfare.
  • Developing skills in teamwork, communication and problem-solving.
  • Building relationships with like-minded individuals from around the world.
  • Immersing yourself in a new culture and gaining a new perspective on the world.
  • Having fun and making memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Who will be working on the animal care projects? 

All of our projects are led by local conservation organisations, governments or NGOs. Project needs and goals are based on objectives as determined by these partner organisations: 

  • In Thailand, we partner with the Thai Royal Navy.
  • In Mexico, we partner with the National Commission for the Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) 

 

And of course, you’ll be joined by passionate animal lovers and animal care volunteers from around the world. These people will become the friends you think of as family, and have been brought together by a shared mission and values: to live a wilder life. And to help change the world.

Our programs

Volunteering
Island Conservation Expedition to the Seychelles
Volunteering
Thailand Coastal Conservation Expedition
Volunteering
Endangered Turtle Conservation and Research in Thailand
Volunteering
Volunteer with Turtles in Greece
Volunteering
Island Biodiversity Surveying Citizen Science Project in Seychelles
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook traditional Seychellois Creole dishes
Visit the Mission Ruins at Venn's Town
Paddleboard across the bay
Hike through lush forests and across rocky plateaus
Explore the ocean after dark with a night dive
Discover rare and endemic species of plants
Swim at a secret beach
Go fishing with local fishers
Species

Volunteer abroad with sea turtles 

 We offer animal care volunteer programs focused on sea turtles in two locations: 

 

Our project work focuses on four species of sea turtles: 

  • Green sea turtles.
  • Leatherback turtles.
  • Loggerhead sea turtles.
  • Hawksbill sea turtles.

 

Our sea turtle animal care and research efforts centre around studying the nesting success and habits of adult turtles, including collecting and collating information such as tag numbers, carapace (shell) measurements, and number of eggs laid. You will also carry out nest evacuations to measure hatching success rates. 

Volunteer abroad with Asian elephants

Leaving behind their lives in the tourism industry, these gentle giants now live a wilder life in Chiang Mai Province in Northern Thailand, an area famous for its traditional elephant-keeping communities. Observe the elephants in their natural habitat and learn about elephant history, behaviour, training, biology and social interactions directly from the people who have cared for and worked alongside these beautiful animals for centuries.

Locations

Travel with us to some of the world’s most extraordinary and vulnerable habitats, where you can experience every kind of terrain from tall jungle peaks to colourful coral reefs and every summit, shore and isle in between.

 We offer animal volunteer opportunities in the following locations: 

Thailand 

Thailand is an abundant tropical territory home to thousands of species of mammals, fish, reptiles and insects. If you join a GVI animal care volunteer program in Thailand, either one of the following locations will become your office: 

  • Volunteer with Asian elephants in the northern mountains of Chiang Mai, working alongside the local elephant-keeping community to re-establish elephants from the tourism industry into a natural habitat.
  • Work in Phang Nga on turtle conservation and care alongside experts from the Thai Royal Navy. 

 

Mexico

Volunteers will learn about the biology and ecological importance of sea turtle species, as well as gain insights into what threatens their survival. In particular, participants will assist our local partner the National Commission for the Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) – with their sea turtle nesting and hatching monitoring programs, help in photo identification of sea turtles in the Ojo de Agua snorkelling site, and help develop and implement conservation education programs in the local community.

FAQs

​​What do animal volunteers do?

Animal volunteers work on conservation projects that are dedicated to the preservation of a single animal species and its habitat. One of the most striking features of an animal care internship is that it provides a real-life demonstration of how animals, environments and human beings can and do interact positively within an ecosystem.

​​What can I expect from an animal care volunteering program?

Volunteering to work with animals is an incredible opportunity to make a difference, learn new skills, and have fun while doing it. On one of GVI’s animal care programs, you’ll be playing an important role in helping protect some of Earth’s most treasured species, provide hands-on care in animal shelters and support locally-led wildlife conservation efforts. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about animal behaviour and conservation techniques from experts.

Is animal volunteering ethical?

Yes. GVI has a very strict and robust ethical animal handling policy on all our animal volunteer programs and research projects, which is constantly monitored and updated. You can read more about it here

How can I travel the world and work with animals?

Simple! GVI’s animal care programs make it the easiest thing in the world to simultaneously volunteer with animals in need of care and rehabilitation and travel to some of its most beautiful locations. 

Is it necessary to handle wild animals on an animal care internship abroad?

It’s not always essential to interact with wild animals to contribute to their conservation. But in some cases, the benefits of interacting with wild animals, under the supervision of experts, outweighs the risks. All of our international animal care internships only allow for interactions that are essential to the well-being of the animals involved.

Is it safe to handle wild animals if I’m providing animal care?

If you’re working with a reputable and ethical animal care organisation you can rest assured that you’ll be taking part in work that won’t put you at risk of being injured by a wild animal. All of GVI’s local staff and partners have expertise in the field and will supervise you in a way that is safe, while still allowing you to gain valuable experience. GVI also has a strict stance on animal interaction that is applied to every animal care internship we run.