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Imagine. Witness. Explore.

Published: 02-Jul-2020

Written by: Jessica McKelson

Often I am asked which place is good to volunteer at? There are so many options and often the volunteer is confused. As a volunteer there are key things you need to research and make sure you choose the right place that is going to benefit.

Many places are available for volunteers, but really what are you getting from this experience? What do you want to do?
These are important questions and your money to pay for volunteering must also be seen to help the project, not line peoples pockets! So many times I hear about places not being the best to volunteer, unethical and treat wildlife very poorly but the cost was pricey $$. This type of volunteer experience is just a business opportunity and not a real conservation outcome for wildlife. Therefore, we request you ask wildlife professionals and they can suggest some great places. At Raw, we have the expertise to guide you in the right direction and if you are reading this now, then let me showcase the Top 5 places I suggest you start to think about.

Volunteer Benefits: 

1. It’s a very rewarding experience:
As soon as you are introduced to the organisations and get involved you will feel really good about being there, and being integral in supporting them. To be able to give back while volunteering is a feeling hard to explain and you will often leave wanting more! 

2. Meeting like-minded travelers:

The people that immerse themselves with this type of “travel” are fun, excited, and passionate about volunteering and are not afraid to get down and a little dirty. It also makes it so easy to travel on your own, as everyone on the tour has the same love for wildlife and adventure as yourself. There’s a real sense of camaraderie from the moment you meet your group, until you say your goodbyes at the end of the tour.

3. The whole process is really easy:

All the volunteer travel research has already been done for you, by us at Raw Wildlife Encounters. The accommodation, the transport, most of the meals, the tour guides and the tours. The charity organisations that you will be learning more about and helping by being there, have been really carefully selected as they are all very worthy causes. From the moment the booking was done, the rest is just so easy.  

I have combined my Top 5 locations I recommend from an ethical perspective and also which benefits the projects core outcomes and most importantly the wildlife! 

1. International Animal Rescue, West Kalimantan Indonesia

By becoming an orangutan volunteer at International Animal Rescue (IAR), you will have the opportunity to work on various projects throughout your length of stay here. With over 100 resident orangutans, many items constantly need repairs and many animals need to be enriched! Here at IAR, you will take place at an exciting volunteer project, where you witness the amazing work IAR is doing to conserve the orangutan and also work hard and be a part of the team which also is making a difference to our red head cousins! 


  • 11 or 22 days 
  • 9th & 20th every month 
  • Max 8 volunteers at any given time  

Key activities:

- Animal Enrichment
- Construction of facilities
- Maintenance of facilities
- Farming and Planting
- Cage redecorating, painting and construction.


2. Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, Vietnam

The Endangered Primate Rescue Center is a not for profit rescue center dedicated to the rehabilitation, breeding, research and conservation of Vietnams endangered primate species. The center is home to around 150 primates representing 15 species. Seven of these species are kept only at the EPRC, and at no other facility in the world. A volunteer placement at the EPRC can be an incredibly rewarding experience that at the same time supports a well-established and active primate conservation program.  We recommend combining your travel to Vietnam with a volunteer excursion to this incredible rescue centre. This is a great opportunity to learn how to become a primate zookeeper for endangered primate species and also help this program achieve conservation outcomes.  

Key activities:

- Building and installing animal enrichment devices
- Prepare food and help the keepers clean the facilities
- Maintenance of facilities
- Farming and Planting
- Research
- Giving tours to guests


  • 2 weeks - 1 month
  • Min age 18 yrs

3. Free the Bears, Cambodia.

Free the Bears now offers the chance for supporters to come and work with the bears at our sanctuary in Cambodia. You will have a unique, once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes of this world class bear rescue facility.

FTB currently house over 130 bears in 24 large outdoor enclosures covering about 8 hectares. The enclosures are very natural and have large rocky outcrops, native fauna, climbing frames and platforms, pools and other enrichments. It is a safe and happy home to bears that have been rescued from a range of different situations including poachers, the black market, the bile farm industry and businesses using them for entertainment, trades which often leave behind very young orphaned cubs.

Key activities:

- Building and installing animal enrichment devices
- Prepare food and help the keepers clean the facilities
- Maintenance of facilities 


  • 1 week - 8 weeks
  • Min age 21 yrs

4. Animals Asia.

Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears, caring for them at its award-winning bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam. Animals Asia has volunteer positions based in Vietnam and also China. Most of the volunteer positions are via application and require you to commit to minimum 3 months plus. 

We recommend that you take a look at the positions and if you have the time, passion and skills you, need to apply! 




5. Wildlife Volunteer Experience - Thailand & Laos

Volunteers are needed to help out at wildlife rescue centres, conservation projects and research facilities. Volunteering with animals in these parts of the world where the illegal wildlife trade is at it’s worst can make a huge difference for the animals under the care of the wildlife rescue projects, and have a direct impact on the conservation of the animals still in the wild. 

At both these locations in Asia, you are going to contribute to helping the wildlife have a better life and in some cases, also have the opportunity to witness their release back into the wild. 



All images are courtesy of the projects.

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