Rachel’s experience - “Three days in, I am gross and loving it!”

Volunteer Experiences / 08 December 2015 Rachel’s experience - “Three days in, I am gross and loving it!”

Rachel has just begun an eight week placement at the Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project in Thailand. In her first week she was placed on the Wildlife Rescue role caring for the category known on site as “Other Wildlife” – an eclectic mix of small mammals, reptiles and birds. Rachel has shared her experience with us so far.


Okay guys, I’m here in Thailand and I’m three days in. And oh man, I am so gross. Generally throughout the day, I am dirtier than I have ever been in my whole life. Like ever. And I am totally loving it.

So I’m working with the wildlife at the centre I’m volunteering at, which is all of the animals but elephants. I’ll be working with them in 5 weeks’ time. So the wildlife is divided up into teams, primates - two teams who deal with gibbons and macaques (monkeys), two teams who deal with bears (Asian and sun bears), and then the “other” wildlife. That’s what I’m on.


Bear at the Wildlife Rescue project


Okay here’s what I fed and cleaned the enclosures of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

  • Langurs (monkeys who are obsessed with corn)
  • Macaques (we only feed the ones in quarantine, if they’re sick or blind or diabetic, cause that’s a thing for monkeys too)
  • Parrots (one named Blue who says hello and then f**k you – clearly he never learned social etiquette)
  • Parakeet
  • Deer
  • Goats
  • Iguanas (who love being showered with water)
  • Otters (just cleaned their enclosure and watched them play in the water, they’re actually so cute)
  • Pigs (and piglets, who came up and licked my fingers)
  • Porcupines
  • Tortoises and turtles (two of them were having sex when I came in to their enclosure yesterday)
  • Muntjack deer (I don’t even know what it is… I just make the food and the Thai staff take it!)
  • Peacocks
  • Lorises (such adorable animals)


Piak the monkey


I think that’s it… So understandably my first day was super chaotic because I knew nothing and had all these critters to feed. But yesterday and today were much quicker, today we have a professional chef on our team so the food prep goes much quicker.

It’s still really dirty work. All of the vegetables and fruits have to be soaked and rinsed, and it’s a lot of food so we don’t bother being neat and tidy about it. So we start the day off getting soaked along with the food. After feeding is cleaning enclosures. Pooper scooper and we also dump out their water dishes, scrub them out and refill them.


Food prep at the Wildlife Rescue project


Monday and today I jumped in the pig-pen to clean out their water pools. The mud/poo/food corner is right at the entrance (entrance is a generous word to use, you have to pull yourself over the 3 foot concrete wall straight into the mud) so I was up to my ankles in it. And today it was raining, so even more muddy. I was having a total ball. I just wasn’t actively thinking about what I was stepping in. Mud not sh*t… Crunching sticks not bones! And this was where the piglets came and licked my fingers and I got to pet the momma pig. My team leader called it first week enthusiasm.


Pool clean out


So my feet got a nice mud bath, my hands got a good vegetable scrap and dirt coating and the rest of me is nice and sticky from sweat, sunscreen, bug spray and 95% humidity.

Don’t get me wrong guys, I am absolutely loving it (#firstweekenthusiasm). I have never felt like I deserved a shower more than I have at the end of these three days (and it’s even more gratifying that they’re cold). I have never felt like I earned a meal more than these last three days. It’s definitely an adjustment, but that was what I was looking for, a change in lifestyle, to see how others live in the world. I don’t think others are quite as keen as me though.

Until Next Time,


Group shot at Wildlife Rescue