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Our Ethical Standards for Animal Welfare

In this article, we explain the ethical standards that we’ve set for programs on our platform that include work with wild animals.

Linda Anderson avatar
Written by Linda Anderson
Updated over a week ago

Spending your volunteer time working with animals is an exciting and unique experience! However, you need to be aware that we pursue an absolute minimal-interaction policy for the animal care programs on Volunteer World. Minimal physical contact with wild animals is necessary to ensure the animals' welfare. 

With this policy, we differentiate between animal sanctuaries that care for injured animals, that will return to the wild and sanctuaries or rescue homes that care for orphaned animals and those that will never be released

Only use contact when it is absolutely necessary

There are good reasons for having physical contact with wild animals in case of medical or transportation purposes. While volunteering in a wildlife program, you have the chance to enjoy moments of indirect interaction with the animals, e.g. while monitoring them. In a rescue home, direct interaction may be necessary. 

It is important to keep in mind that the interaction with wild animals is not only a risk to the volunteer, but to the animals as well. If they are used to people being close to them, they might not hide from hunters or accept food that they can’t digest once they are back in their natural habitat. 

No elephant riding and swimming

In addition to the minimal-interaction policy, we do NOT tolerate programs that offer elephant rides. The process of “learning” how to be ridden exposes the elephants to brutal practices and violence. We also ask our volunteers not to support this cruelty during their stays abroad and in their free time outside the programs.

Additionally, as of 2024, Volunteer World will not promote programs that feature elephant bathing as a volunteer activity. While taking a bath can be totally normal for an elephant, keeping to a schedule and being encouraged into the water is unnatural. Alongside this, the risks for volunteers and other persons is just too high.

Constant checks of our partner projects

Volunteering at a rescue sanctuary for orphaned and ill-treated animals will sometimes require direct contact between the volunteer and the animals. Many sanctuaries are a permanent home to animals that unfortunately can't return to the wild. This is why human contact is not a danger to them and is allowed more frequently than in other programs. In some programs, direct contact between animals and humans is even required.

To maintain our ethical standards, we are constantly checking global animal protection lists and comparing them to the NGOs on our platform. Should you encounter any organizations on our website that you've heard about any potential reprehensive facts, please let us know and we will verify this immediately. We also have very strict platform standards for humanitarian projects. If you are interested in that topic, please read our article "Our Ethical Standards for Humanitarian Projects".

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