Spending your volunteer time working with animals is an exciting and unique experience! However, you need to be aware of the fact that we pursue an absolute minimal-interaction policy for the animal care programs on Volunteer World. The minimum 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, which are to be returned to the wild and sanctuaries or rescue homes that care for orphaned animals and those unable to be released.
Contact only where it is absolutely necessary
There are good reasons for having physical contact with wild animals in both options, e.g. medical or transportation purposes. While volunteering in a wildlife program you have good chances to enjoy moments of indirect interaction with the animals, e.g. while monitoring them, whereas in a rescue home direct interaction might 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 stomach once they are back in their natural habitat.
No elephant riding
In addition to the minimal-interaction policy, we do NOT tolerate programs that offer elephant rides. The process to “learn” 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.
Constant checks of our partner projects
Volunteering at a rescue sanctuary for orphaned and ill-treated animals will allow and sometimes ask for direct contact between the volunteers and the animals. Many sanctuaries are a permanent home to animals that unfortunately can't be returned to the wild. This is why human contact will be no danger to them and is allowed to a higher level than in other programs. In some places, the 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 be encountering any organisations on our website with a bad reputation, please let us know and we will check it immediately. Of course we also have very strict platform standards for humanitarian projects. If you are interested in that topic, please read our article on "Our Ethical Standards for Humanitarian Projects".