Stacey is the person I have to thank for the amazing experience of volunteering for 10 days at Safari Park Zoo. We had discussed some sort of volunteering, and she found these guys online, and I am so glad because in my 101 days in SE Asia, this was one of my favorite experiences! As such, this calls for multiple posts! I wanted to start off with an introduction telling you a little bit about the Safari Park Volunteer program and then there will be four posts giving a little bit more detail.
» COSTS «
Yes, it does cost to volunteer here, but it is so worth it. Fees vary based on how long you stay. If you stay longer costs obviously go way down. For people who just want to get a taste of the zoo, see what there is to see and pass through there are stays as little as three days, and for people who want to live the zoo life longer term you can stay as long as you want! Shorter stays are much more expensive ($62.12 per day) but if you stay 2 weeks it drops way down to $24.37. However be sure to remember that 30% goes back to the volunteer program and the other 70% goes directly to the animals.
» WHAT’S INCLUDED IN YOUR STAY? «
Included in your stay you get breakfast, lunch & dinner. Plus, there are snacks in the kitchen if you need it. You also get all the drinking water you need, your accommodation is provided (which includes wifi) and you get all of the experiences!
You can specify food needs as well. I requested the vegetarian meals and they always had plenty of delicious veggies!
» A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE ANIMALS «
» CAT TEAM:
To really work with the big cats you have to be a longer-term volunteer, but during free time you can always go up to the big cat garden and spend some time with the bigger kitties (there can be tigers, leopards and/or lions)! Check back for more about the cats August 10th.
» BIRDS & WILDLIFE TEAM:
When I was here, I only had one day where I worked with the birds because one of the team leaders was really working with the birds, but you clean the enclosures & feed these birds morning and afternoon. Read more about my day working with the birds here August 7th.
» CUBS TEAM:
Working with the cubs isn’t always the cute experience it sounds (or looks) like. When you’re in there alone with multiple leopard cubs you can be sure to expect lots of leopard nibbles and these cuddly looking cuties have their claws at this age. However, you also get to bottle feed them and then they get sleepy and cuddly. There is a potential for leopard, lion and/or tiger cubs here too! Read more about cubs on August 10th.
» RESCUE RETREAT TEAM:
This is one of my favorite teams! I got to work with binturongs, a few different birds including a cassowary and monkeys! I loved working together on enrichment for these guys and felt like I was truly putting work in here and making improvements quickly! Read more about Rescue Team August 7th.
» SAFARI TEAM:
This team has already changed a bit too since I was there, but this is my other favorite team! Whether it’s shoveling giraffe poo, carrying bags of deer feed or hand-feeding bears bananas this team is a great time! Plus, you get to work with Salapong who is without a doubt one of the greatest people I’ve ever met! Read more about Safari Team August 4th.
» Down Time «
During some of my down time I helped Salapong prepare the papaya salad we had for lunch one day, helped make sticky-rice balls for the elephants to eat and helped out on other special projects that I was excited to be involved with (usually including enrichment).
» WHY PAY MONEY TO VOLUNTEER? «
When you think about it, it takes time to train new volunteers which takes away from time of the staff, not to mention the money it takes to feed and house the volunteers. When you pay to volunteer that puts money directly back into the zoo and even more importantly, the animals! (I can personally say that while I was there I saw the staff buy materials to make for improving enclosures or making enrichment).
» THE ENGLISH SCHOOL «
Two nights a week children come down to the zoo where you can help teach the class. I helped out twice and I loved getting to know some of the children, playing games with them and watching how quickly they picked up the lessons we were teaching. It was so rewarding!
» THE PEOPLE YOU MEET «
One of the greatest parts of this experience was some of the people I met! I met some of the funnest, sweetest, most passionate and hilarious people at the zoo! We bonded over our experiences & travels, went out for beers after work and I cried when I left this beautiful little lady below! (I miss you so much, Jade!) Nothing can replace the memories with these amazing people!
I’m very eager to share more about my experiences with the animals over the next week or so. Please be sure to check back this week and truly if you’re planning a trip to Thailand be sure to look into volunteering here. Learn more here!
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