Elephant Care

Thailand

The Elephant Care project provides refuge to domesticated elephants that have been used in the logging and tourism industries.

You will support the team in caring for the rescued elephants at the centre; many of whom arrive with severe health problems and bear the scars of previous abuse. The extra support from volunteers is crucial to ensure that every animal receives the optimum level of care. By spreading the word about the use and abuse of animals, volunteers raise awareness of these issues and what can be done to help them. You can also combine this role with the Wildlife Rescue project.

Explore the beautiful local area and fascinating night markets in the popular destination of Hua Hin. Visit one of the nearby national parks and see some wonderful wildlife!

Help the Elephant Care team to care for elephants in need.

Apply

Key Info

key info
  • Location: 3 hours south of Bangkok
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 - 6 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (14+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces available, limited until Feb
  • Cost: From £599 / €700 / $765 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

Both the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue roles are based at the same sanctuary and you can choose to either specialise in one role or combine the two.

The centre operates as a sanctuary to abused, neglected or injured animals. Volunteers work alongside local staff to care for nearly 20 Asian elephants. Each day will differ and Elephant Care volunteer tasks may include:

  • Feeding and giving water to the elephants
  • Help with the cleaning of the enclosures
  • Hosing down and washing the elephants
  • Harvesting and collecting food from local farms - pineapple trees, bananas trees etc.
  • Creating enrichments for the elephants
  • Looking after other domesticated animals on site

In addition to the above tasks, volunteers may also be involved in the construction or maintenance of enclosures and cleaning or developing the centre grounds / farmland.

Volunteers will also be allocated other duties which are shared between all volunteers. This includes caring for the rescued dogs and cats on site. For dogs in particular this means helping on bath days, feeding and removing ticks - please be prepared for dogs with poor skin conditions which is common in Thailand. You may also be required to assist with domestic duties and housekeeping at the centre.

There are always tasks to be done on site and so if you want more work, make sure you ask! If you have a specific skill or interest let the team know as they may have jobs on their long term ‘to-do’ list for you.

This project is ideal for stays of 1-6 weeks. If you have 6 weeks or longer we would recommend combining this project with the Wildlife Rescue project which is based at the same centre.

Working days and hours

Volunteers work a 5 or 6 day working week from about 6.30am-5pm on a rota basis, depending on the needs of the project at the time. Volunteers live on site, a short walk away from the animals. There are many exciting free time activities locally including 3 national parks to explore!

Other volunteers

There are usually 15-30 volunteers on each role with a maximum of 70 in total, but this varies considerably throughout the year.

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.

Volunteer Reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Thailand Elephant Care reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

Whilst each elephant is cared for by a dedicated mahout, the sanctuary is overstretched due to the scale of the work and the daily care tasks. The extra support from volunteers is crucial to ensure that every animal receives the optimum level of care. The extra help from volunteers also allows the local team to focus on other important tasks such as animal rights campaigning and education. Volunteers can also contribute creatively by helping to design enrichments for the elephants and other animals.

“The passion and commitment shown by volunteers allows the centre to run smoothly. Their love for animals allows us to continue to rescue and rehabilitate animals that have been forced into the tourist industry or kept as pets.”
Becca, Volunteer Coordinator

Location, free time and accommodation

Thailand

Thailand is often referred to as the ‘land of smiles’ and is a huge attraction for travellers from around the world due to its glorious beaches, tropical climate, great food and fascinating culture. Thailand has something to offer everyone and popular activities include:

  • Visiting the tranquil mountains in the North
  • Idyllic beaches on the Southern islands
  • The bustling modern city of Bangkok

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Thailand

Local area and free time

The centre is located in a tropical region about 160km south of Bangkok. It is on temple grounds and just outside a small village. It is a fairly remote location and provides a peaceful and beautiful environment. There is a large lake opposite the centre which has a series of small ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate the gibbons.

There are two local towns; Cha Am (30 minutes by taxi) and Hua Hin (45 minutes by taxi). Both of these towns are on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and are popular beach resorts.

The centre is located in a beautiful area which can be easily explored on foot. There is a small spa nearby which is very popular with volunteers on their day off. There are also three national parks not far away which you are able to visit; Kui Buri National Park, Kaeng Krachan National Park and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.

In the evenings volunteers may sit and relax in the open communal areas, or choose to go to Hua Hin where there are bars, restaurants and a night market. There is also a weekly night market in Cha Am selling clothes and souvenirs.

Accommodation

Volunteers live in simple shared rooms onsite, and bathrooms are shared. The sanctuary has a communal area where volunteers can relax in the evenings as well as a communal kitchen where you can make snacks and drinks. There is limited WIFI but 3G internet access is available.

Female volunteers can request to stay in the separate female-only accommodation which, due to its location, is quieter and the building overlooks four of the elephant enclosures.

Read volunteer reviews from the Elephant Care project

Steffanie

“The project was a top notch operation with excellent values, knowledge, care for the animals, and business operations. Our time there exceeded my expectations. We went in as animal lovers. We came out as animal advocates having made deep friendships with wonderful, like-minded people. The work was challenging, strenuous, precious, loving, and all for a wonderful cause.

The site coordinators were flexible and caring about the volunteers as well and if you couldn’t participate for some reason the “teamwork makes dreamwork” philosophy applied. We were all in it together and picking up where our teammates couldn’t at that moment. I found it very rewarding getting to know people from other cultures. A very fulfilling and life changing experience!”

Ali

“This volunteer experience for me was life changing. The whole time I was there I was constantly learning and gaining new skills that are applicable to many aspects of life. Working with the elephants in itself was truly amazing, they are such beautiful animals and being up close to them and feeding them was very special. The fact that you’re doing the work all together as a team and that it’s for the benefit of the elephants make all tasks enjoyable and rewarding.

This volunteer experience also gave me the opportunity to work closely in teams, which were different every day, allowing me to meet and connect with so many different and interesting people from across the world. Some of those people I can confidently say will be lifelong friends and I’m going to visit later in the year! I am already trying to plan for another trip back to the centre, it was so hard to leave!”

Fran

“The Elephant Care project really is an incredible place and working with the elephants was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Working hands on with the elephants everyday was so rewarding and I really felt like I was making a difference. I definitely would go back in the future - I was reluctant to leave! I got to know the elephants and all their unique personalities which is so interesting.

It was also great as a solo traveller to meet and live with the other volunteers - everyone was so friendly and I made some awesome friends. The centre also helps you organise extra activities for your evenings and days off which was really helpful and allowed me to explore more of the local area. Overall it was a fantastic experience!”

Beth

“I was looking for an adventure and something that would really open my eyes and this was exactly what I got and much more. In a group full of strangers I met some of the most amazing and interesting people full of stories and experiences, packed with a wealth of knowledge and passion. I have made some brilliant friends who will stay with me for life!

It was the most satisfying feeling at the end of the day having a cold shower knowing I’d been helping one of the most amazing endangered animals on the planet alongside some truly phenomenal people. I honestly would recommend this experience to anyone who loves these creatures and is looking for a way to help and be inspired. This wasn’t a holiday; it was a one of a kind experience.”

Read more reviews

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - Lucy will be your dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • In-depth volunteering and planning your trip guides
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Animal care volunteering placement
  • Arrangement of airport pickup from Bangkok (journey cost payable to the driver)
  • Accommodation - a basic shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), cost of pickup and transfers. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
Elephant Care - 1 week £599 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £200 GB Pounds
2 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £849 GB Pounds
3 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1009 GB Pounds
4 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1169 GB Pounds
5 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1329 GB Pounds
6 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1489 GB Pounds
7 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1649 GB Pounds
8 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1809 GB Pounds
Extra weeks on a combination placement £110 GB Pounds
Apply

Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

Discounts for volunteers combining Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue roles, see above for examples

300+

animals rescued by the Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue centre this year

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Lucy

Pod UK Specialist

Apply and you'll hear from Lucy soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

Apply

VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Thailand Elephant Care volunteer - Eric

    “Working with the elephants was an incredible experience… I worked as hard as I ever have, I was tired, wet, muddy, smelly, but never as alive and satisfied as I was when I was there.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Elephant Care volunteer – Jo

    “This is without doubt the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I went by myself and had no idea what to expect... I am so glad I did. The harvests can be brutal, but I just told myself 'boot camp' and kept going!”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Elephant Care volunteer – Samantha

    “My time in Thailand was the best time of my life! I highly recommend this placement for animal lovers, anyone who enjoys new experiences or who just wants to be immersed in a completely different way of life.”

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal