Elephant Care

Thailand

The Elephant Care project gives 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. Your work will also help to educate others on the importance of animal rights. You can also combine this role with Wildlife Rescue which is based at the same sanctuary.

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

Help the Elephant Care team to run the sanctuary and 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+ (but 16-17s can join the U18 Trip)
  • Availability: Spaces available from September
  • 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 roles.

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 but 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 - pineapples, bananas 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, cleaning or developing the centre grounds / farmland, assisting with visitor tours and education.

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 do domestic duties, assisting with the housekeeping of the centre (kitchen, bathroom cleaning etc.).

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 2 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 Volunteering reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

Whilst each elephant is cared for by a dedicated mahout, the sanctuary are 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

Why are volunteers needed?

Whilst each elephant is cared for by a dedicated mahout, they are in need of assistance with their tasks. The local staff are often over-stretched with daily care tasks and so the extra man-power from volunteers allow them to focus on long term plans. Additionally volunteers can offer contribute creatively and help to design enrichments for the elephants.

“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

How is the Elephant Care project making a difference?

The sanctuary we work with gives refuge to domesticated elephants that have been used in industry and many of the elephants arrive with severe health problems and bear the scars of previous abuse. The sanctuary’s aim is to provide a refuge that is as close to nature as possible.

Domesticated elephants were traditionally used in the logging industry but after the ban on logging, many mahouts turned to making a living from using their elephants in the tourist industry. Many elephants were used for begging on the streets of big cities, within circuses, made to give rides or to perform. The sanctuary campaigns to raise awareness of the abuse elephants (and many other animals) face in the tourist industry.

Location, free time and accommodation

Thailand

Thailand is often referred to as the ‘land of smiles’, is a huge attraction for travellers from around the world due to its glorious beaches, tropical climate, great food and fascinating culture. The country is so diverse: from the tranquil mountains in the North and the idyllic beaches in the South as well as the bustling modern city of Bangkok, Thailand has something to offer everyone.

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Thailand

Free time

The centre is located in a tropical region about 160 km south of Bangkok on temple grounds just outside a small village. It is a fairly remote location and provides a peaceful and beautiful environment, with a large lake opposite the centre. There are two bigger towns, Cha Am (30 minutes by taxi) and Hua Hin (45 minutes by taxi). Both 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. In the local village there is a small spa 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.

There is an open area for volunteers to sit and relax in the evening. Alcohol is allowed in moderation, and the team hold ‘bar nights’ so that new volunteers can socialise and get to know the team in a safe and relaxed environment.

In the evenings volunteers sometimes 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 lots of cheap clothes and souvenirs.

Accommodation

The sanctuary is based on temple grounds donated by a local abbot in a tropical region south of Bangkok. It is a peaceful and rural location and the sanctuary is located beside a small lake which has a series of small ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate the gibbons.

Volunteers live in simple shared rooms on site at the sanctuary, bathrooms are shared with cold water showers and western bucket-flush toilets. 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.

Female volunteers can request to stay in the seperate female only accomodation which, due to location, is more peaceful and the building overlooks four of the elephant enclosures.

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 - Sarah or Lucy will be your dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • In-depth volunteering and planning your trip guides on your volunteering placement
  • 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

"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian

Sarah Lucy

Pod UK Specialist

Apply and you'll hear from Sarah or 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