Elephant CareThailand

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 vibrant night market 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.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: 3 hours south of Bangkok
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (14+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces limited until April 2020
  • Cost: From £645 / €710 / $800 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

There are currently over 650 rescued animals at the centre including 25 elephants, over 300 primates, 25 bears and a variety of other small mammals, birds and reptiles. There are two volunteer roles at the centre - Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - you can choose to either specialise in one role or combine the two.

The centre gives refuge to domesticated elephants that have been used in the logging and tourism industries and many of the elephants arrive with severe health problems and the scars of previous abuse. Elephants have been rescued from begging on the streets of big cities, circuses and elephant riding camps.

The aim for the elephants is to ensure that they spend the rest of their lives in a sanctuary as close to their natural environment as possible.

The main Elephant Care volunteer tasks are:

  • Preparing and distributing food for the elephants
  • Hosing down and washing the elephants
  • Cleaning the enclosures and grounds
  • Creating enrichments for the elephants
  • Harvesting of banana trees
  • Construction and maintenance of enclosures (if taking place while you are there)

Volunteers are also allocated other shared duties including cleaning the dining area and caring for the rescued dogs on site. For the dogs, this means helping on bath days, feeding and removing ticks. Some dogs may have poor skin conditions, which is common in Thailand.

You will work in small teams with a team leader (usually another volunteer), learning most things whilst doing them. You will be working in very close or direct contact with the elephants and, for your own and others safety, you must be aware of the risks and follow all instructions.

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

“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

Typical day

Volunteers work a 6 day working week from about 6.30am-5pm on a rota basis and a working day typically follows this schedule:

  • 6.30am-8am - Volunteering
  • 8am-9am - Breakfast
  • 9am-12pm - Volunteering
  • 12pm-1pm - Lunch
  • 1pm-5pm - Volunteering
  • 6pm - Dinner & relax!

In the first two days, you will have a half day induction and tour of the centre, as well as a health & safety briefing.

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!

Interaction Policy

The Elephant Care role is generally hands on, however, each elephant has different needs and there are some elephants that you cannot have direct contact with.

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.

Local support

You will be supported by the local team at the centre which includes several international and Thai co-ordinators who are responsible for managing volunteers and the daily work of the wildlife and elephant teams.

Accommodation

Accommodation is provided in simple shared rooms located in the centre grounds and there are separate shared bathrooms.

Volunteer bedroom

There is a large open air communal dining area where volunteers have meals and can relax in the evenings. There is WIFI in the dining area but it can be limited so you may want to consider buying a local SIM card and accessing 3/4G.

Dining area

Meals

Main meals are included and are prepared by Thai cooks. Here are typical examples of the food you will have:

  • Breakfast – bread, cereals, eggs, yoghurt, spreads and fresh fruit
  • Lunch and dinner – mainly traditional Thai food such curries, stir fries, rice and noodles. There is usually also a ‘pasta night’ once a week  

Every meal includes a vegetarian and vegan option. If you have any allergies or specific dietary requirements please let us know in advance and we will check if these can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided on site from water dispensers where volunteers can fill up their water bottles throughout the day.

Location and free time

The centre is located in a tropical region about 3 hours south of Bangkok. Situated on temple grounds and just outside a small village, it's a fairly remote location and a peaceful and beautiful environment. There is a lake opposite the centre which has a series of small ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate the gibbons.

In the local village (10 minute walk away) there are cash machines, a couple of small supermarkets selling basic items such as toiletries and snacks and a couple of restaurants.

There are two bigger towns, Cha Am and Hua Hin (45 mins-1 hour by taxi). Both these towns are on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and are popular beach resorts.

Night market

In the evenings volunteers often sit and relax in the open communal area and there is a bar where volunteers can buy drinks, snacks and smoothies. Volunteers may also choose to go to Hua Hin where there are bars, restaurants and a bustling night market, ideal for souvenir hunting! There is also a weekly night market in Cha Am selling clothes and local foods.

There is a small resort with swimming pool and Thai massage treatments available nearby (20 minutes by taxi) which is very popular with volunteers on their day off. There are also three national parks 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.

Travelling in Thailand before or after your placement

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 that you might like to combine with your volunteer project include:

  • Visiting the islands of Koh Tao, famous for its scuba diving and laid back atmosphere
  • Visit the beautiful waterfalls, wildlife and limestone cliffs of Khao Sok National Park
  • Exploring the tranquil mountains in the North and meeting ethnic hill tribes
  • Visiting the many colourful and ancient temples  

For more information on Thailand and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Thailand country page. This also features all our other Thailand volunteering projects as you might like to consider combining this project with one of the others we offer to make a trip of a lifetime!

Thailand temple

Climate

Thailand has a tropical climate and throughout the year it is hot with temperatures generally between 25-33˚C. There can be tropical rain showers at any time of year but the main rainy season is from July to October. 

Dates

Start dates are every Sunday.

What's Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • Accommodation - a basic shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction
  • Support from the local team
  • Support from the Pod Volunteer UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Vaccinations and medication
  • Transfers to / from the project
  • Living costs - snacks, drinks, laundry
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
Elephant Care - 1 week £645 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £200 GB Pounds
2 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £895 GB Pounds
3 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1055 GB Pounds
4 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1215 GB Pounds
5 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1375 GB Pounds
6 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1535 GB Pounds
7 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1695 GB Pounds
8 week combination of Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue £1855 GB Pounds
Extra weeks on a combination placement £110 GB Pounds

Discounts

  • Special fees for volunteers combining Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue roles, see price table for examples
  • £75 discount for every additional project you book as part of the same trip
  • £100 discount for any family members who are under 18
  • £75 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes - financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 

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

Read volunteer reviews from the Elephant Care project

Micah - 2019

"The experience was excellent. Waking at the crack of dawn, preparing food, cleaning habitats, feeding, washing and walking the elephants was hard work, but well worth the experience. The staff are both knowledgeable and accommodating. The animals are remarkably well looked after and one feels the overall satisfaction of knowing they are receiving the right care. I would highly recommend this adventure."

Donna - 2019

"I have just spent 2 wonderful weeks at the elephant care project in Thailand. It was everthing I hoped it would be and more. The staff at the sanctuary are amazing and their knowledge and expertise is second to none. Nothing is too much trouble for them, especially where their elephants are concerned.
Yes, they were early starts and long days in very hot temperatures but every second was worth it. Make no mistake, the work is really hard but you have to remember one thing, everything you are doing is for your elephants well-being. You do also have fun along the way with likeminded people that you meet from all over the world.
I would urge anyone to do this who may be considering it. It is a life changing experience that I would jump at the chance to do again. The whole process from start to finish was really easy. The staff at POD and the local staff were really helpful and I would not hesitate to go again."

Martha - 2019

"My overall experience in Thailand working with the elephants is indescribable. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had and will ever have. Working with the elephants that have been mistreated yet still show love and affection towards you is a feeling I will never let go of."

Irina - 2018

“Words alone cannot express this experience. If I was younger, I would have certainly preferred to stay longer. The camaraderie is great. One can make friends for a lifetime. The setting is fantastic living in the tropical landscape with all the animals there. Never a dull moment. One will gain knowledge about every rescue and is able to give love to all the elephants. I’m just so happy that animals with decades of abuse have found this safe haven."

Read more reviews

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

Iona

Pod UK Specialist

Iona, Bee, Ros and Lucy are the Pod Volunteer Specialists for this project, apply and you'll hear from them 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