Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

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Environment & Wildlife

Top 5 Projects for Conservation Work Experience: Animal Welfare

June 3rd 2022

Tagged: animal husbandry, Animal Welfare, Internship, Volunteering Abroad, Wildlife

It is great that so many people are waking up to the fact that the conservation of our amazing global biodiversity is a real issue that needs tackling. The world needs the growing number of budding and passionate conservationists that we see today.

However, getting into the world of conservation and especially into a paid conservation job is incredibly difficult. With many employers often looking for experience over education it can make getting that first role incredibly hard for anyone, be it someone looking to change career or a recent graduate.

As such we have devised this list for budding Animal Welfare professionals who wish to get into this side of the industry. Alongside gaining volunteer experience with us it should be noted you may well need a relevant degree and/or diploma in this field for a future job.

Animal welfare job titles: Zookeeper, Animal Warden, Wildlife Assistant, Breeding Officer, Assistant Animal Supervisor, Veterinarian, Stockperson

Here we highlight the 5 projects we think will look great on your CV and give you some of that vital experience to impress employers in this field.

Wildlife Rescue Internship Project, Canada

Intern with three baby skunksVolunteer in Canada | WorkingAbroadTo the first and newest project on this list!

On this project, you will join a team of passionate individuals and get hands-on experience working in the treatment, care and release of sick, injured and orphaned native mammal species of British Columbia’s Southern and Lower Mainland.

During your stay, you will participate in all sorts of tasks to help care for the sick/injured animal residents at the centre. You will get involved with a wide range of tasks such as feeding, release and community engagement.

There were more than 1700 animals admitted to the rehabilitation centre last year and during the baby season, the project gets up to 100 calls a day regarding injured or orphaned animals!

Training for interns is provided “on the job”. You will learn how to feed, monitor, and clean up after the animals from staff members. Meetings will be held regularly with all of the interns to make sure that everyone is following procedures correctly and thoroughly.

If you are present when releases are taking place, then you will probably have a chance to go along with a staff member.

You are welcome to help enrich the lives of the animals in your care – to stimulate their behaviour and development in a positive way.


“Some of my fondest memories involve sitting in the racoon nursery and bottle-feeding my racoon kit as they gradually opened their eyes and became lively. Nothing compares to witnessing those tiny racoons grow and gain their own personalities. Throughout my internship, I worked alongside staff members and developed skills in vaccination, animal capture, and enclosure sanitation; skills that will serve me well in future animal-care employment.” – Maxwell Jenkins

Wildlife Rescue Volunteer Project, Costa Rica

Volunteer feeding baby howler monkeyVolunteer Costa Rica | Wildlife Rescue Volunteer | Working Abroad

This project provides opportunities for volunteers to work with rescued and injured animals and help improve the rescue centre. Located in the stunning Nicoya province on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in a tropical location surrounded by a large tropical garden overlooking the sea.

This Wildlife Rescue centre rescues injured and abandoned animals with the aim of returning them to the wild as soon as they are fit and able. For those who can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, we make them as comfortable as possible and hope that their presence will help to educate others about the dangers these precious animals face and what we can do to live more harmoniously with them in nature.

You can get involved in: animal diet preparation, feeding pre-release animals, enclosure cleaning and maintenance, making enrichment for animals. grounds maintenance and gardening, foraging for leaves and branches, sign painting.

Conservation and Wildlife Biology Internship positions are also available for students.

And we also offer Long Term Volunteer positions for 12 weeks which are greatly discounted in cost. You must be over 20 years to apply. Duties are all of the above in addition to: force-feeding*, tube feeding*, animal restraint*

*As long as the volunteer is willing to be trained and shows competence


“Working at the Wildlife Rescue Centre was one of the most beautiful and interesting experiences I’ve ever had. The organisation was very good and the Director explained everything very well and was there when you needed help. But he also lets you work independently. The location is gorgeous. It feels like working in paradise. There is a large garden, a beautiful pool and a nice chill-out lounge. I have a lot of respect for him, there should be many more people in the world like him. I would work with him again anytime and will definitely come back.” – Nicole from the USA

Maldives Island Volunteer Project

Volunteer holding baby sea turtle in MaldivesVolunteer Maldives | Marine Conservation | Working AbroadWhat if the ocean and marine creatures are what you are looking for?

On this volunteer project in the Maldives, you join various environmental, community, medical and marine conservation projects within the tropical island of Naifaru, the capital of the Lhaviyani Atoll.

If it is animal welfare you want to get involved with then our Marine Conservation Programme is right up your street. Help to protect and rehabilitate endangered sea turtle populations, conserve and repair local coral reefs, conduct marine life surveys & support community awareness programmes.

Here there are three stages in which our volunteers will participate:

Receiving: We believe that it is ideal to leave turtles in their natural environment without human interaction. We do not hatch turtles as it is a delicate procedure which has the potential to ‘go wrong’. This said we will always take in a turtle in need. We get turtles from a number of sources; most are donated to the centre by locals who have purchased them as pets.

Care & Rehabilitation: As our turtle conservation volunteer, you will be working to nurse the turtles until they reach a size whereby they have fewer natural predators; this is called a ‘Head Start Programme’.

Releasing: Once they have grown to an adequate size, they are relocated into the sea in a sea cage before finally being released back into the wild.

Whether you have a degree in either marine biology or oceanography or you are a student or just an ocean lover, we guarantee that volunteering in this programme will be both a learning experience and a lot of fun!


“I truly appreciated my three months here in the Maldives. I learnt a lot about myself through volunteering in Naifaru – participating in projects, writing grant proposals, talking to local residents, and getting to know the culture here. It was great getting to work with the variety of projects here, as I got to be involved with the World Bank, UNDP and UNODC programmes. I got to know my strengths and weaknesses and think about my own priorities in life. This is a unique experience and I will fondly look back on the summer days I have spent here as a college freshman.” – Michael Lueng, from Hong Kong

Big Cat Sanctuary Volunteer Project, South Africa

White lions at the sanctuaryBig Cat Volunteer | South Africa Wildlife | Working AbroadNothing caught your attention yet, well how about BIG CATS!

Here you will volunteer at an ethical big cat Sanctuary in South Africa. You will contribute towards animal welfare whilst learning about the conditions big cats face in captivity and helping to raise awareness of wildlife conservation in South Africa.

At the sanctuary, they believe in the equal importance of both humans and animals and do their absolute best to give you a great experience. They know from personal experience that this includes both quality time with animals, as well as with staff and the other volunteers. In addition to the bonds you will form with the animals, friendships will be formed and together at the end of the day we all can share stories, hopes and dreams around the bonfire with a cold drink watching the famous African sunset.

This Big Cat Sanctuary volunteer project in South Africa will offer you the opportunity to get involved behind the scenes at the sanctuary and some amazing hands-on experience with these beautiful cats. Typical tasks will include: caring for and getting to know the amazing big cats, making and implementing enrichment for the cats’ enjoyment, preparation of food and watching the exciting feeding, cleaning and maintaining enclosures, making and maintaining firebreaks, assisting with our educational visits, testing of fences and walking perimeter.


“During my stay, I was mostly involved in the physical aspect of food collection, waste disposal, structure maintenance and some small construction projects. As a group, we would routinely feed the animals and give them enrichment – objects, attention and playtime.

It was very well organised for a small project. The layout is very professional, I think the enclosures exceed international standards by far. Every morning we would have meetings to discuss the daily tasks. There was always something to do, but if you weren’t feeling well or otherwise couldn’t engage there was never any pressure to do something you didn’t want to.” – Matt Hogan, volunteered for 6 weeks

Elephant & Bear Volunteer Project, India

Elephant flicking dirt in IndiaElephant Sanctuary Volunteering India | WorkingAbroadBig cats still not enough? Maybe you would prefer to go BIGGER!

At this project, you will volunteer to help conserve elephants and bears at an ethical wildlife rescue and conservation centre in India. As a volunteer with wildlife in India, you will have the opportunity to assist with the conservation and support of both bears and elephants at the project’s ethical rescue centres.

Here you can gain some really applicable experience in Animal Welfare tasks to use in your future career. For example, typical duties at the bear sanctuary include building hammocks for Sloth Bears to rest in, constructing enrichment structures for play and assisting keepers on daily afternoon feedings. Typical duties with the elephants include chopping fruit, feeding them, and going on walks. Assisting with both species will also involve enclosure maintenance, organisation of facility resources and animal observations.

Additionally, you have the opportunity to get involved behind the scenes in some of the desk-based work. This would be a great opportunity to gain experience in things like assisting short-term guests during their visits and assisting with fundraising activities, both of which are skills you are very likely to use should you gain a role in a zoo or other animal welfare facility open to the public.


“Everyone who is able should look into volunteering here. It was a remarkable and life-changing event for me and I would not trade it for anything. The people in the organisation are great and were tremendously helpful at giving me a first-class experience and taking care of my needs while I was there. I would change nothing and I will probably go back and volunteer again. I loved it. First-rate!” – Carol, USA

Written by WorkingAbroad’s Jack Digman

About the Author

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