Monkey RescueSouth Africa

​The Monkey Rescue project cares for primates that have been orphaned, mistreated or kept as pets.

The centre aims to provide a safe and nurturing home to monkeys and other primates that are unable to return to the wild. Working with over 100 animals on site, volunteers provide care and enrichment for the rescued monkeys and you will learn about primate behaviour. The centre aims to provide a safe and nurturing home and rehabilitate primates that are unable to return to the wild.

The centre is perfectly located to explore the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria or catch a glimpse of the Big 5 on a weekend safari.

Volunteers are needed to provide care to these rescued monkeys.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: Pretoria
  • Start dates: Any date
  • Duration: 1 – 12 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (13+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £545 / €600 / $675 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The Monkey Rescue project we work with in South Africa cares for non-indigenous primates that have been rescued after having been orphaned, mistreated or kept as pets. The centre aims to provide a safe and nurturing home and rehabilitate primates that are unable to return to the wild.

The team currently care for over 100 animals, including marmosets, tamarins, capuchins, macaques, squirrel monkeys, mona monkeys, and grey mouse lemurs. Over the years, the sanctuary has also rescued a small variety of other animals that now also live on site including fennec foxes, bush babies, sugar gliders, tortoises, dogs, cats and an owl.

Many of the monkeys rescued by the team arrive at the project from difficult or upsetting backgrounds and the centre aims to provide as stable, happy and enriching environment for the animals as possible. By implementing a routine of regularly topping up food and water (so the monkeys always have some on hand throughout the day!), keeping enclosures clean and well maintained and providing engaging enrichments, the team help the monkeys feel safe and secure. Volunteers play a vital role in supporting this and help provide the animals with a much-deserved great quality of life. At the centre, you will help to support the high level of care provided, learning about the differences in behaviour of the animals along the way and helping to maintain enclosures. Volunteer’s activities typically include: 

  • Regularly distributing food and water
  • Cleaning enclosures, including sweeping outside areas, scrubbing monkey ‘bedrooms’ and changing bedding
  • Building and maintaining enclosures
  • Cutting hay for bedding
  • Creating and providing enrichment
  • Behavioural observation and monitoring
  • Cleaning food and water bowls
  • Primate relocation
  • Making monkey beds

There is also ‘monkey time’ once a week which allows you to spend time with some of the primates in their enclosures.

Whilst you are at the project, depending on her availability, the founder of the project Sue also provides weekly talks on monkey behaviours and basic handling. This gives you an amazing opportunity to learn from an expert in the field of how to identify behaviour differences between monkeys raised in different environments (such as those raised by other monkeys, vs. those raised by humans).   

“Volunteers are the main support for our work, without volunteer’s onsite support we wouldn’t be able to keep developing to be able to rescue more and more primates year on year. The work volunteers do directly enhance the lives of the primates on site and helps to create a better environment and forever home for these animals.”
Lucy, Volunteer Coordinator

Typical Day 

You will generally be working for 5 days per week. During your first few days you will receive an induction, including being shown around the sanctuary, introduced to the animals and learning some of their stories. 

You will start out shadowing a long term volunteer on a group of monkeys (typically starting with smaller primates such as marmosets) until you are confident caring for the group independently. You will then also be able to grow your skills to help care for a wider variety of primates. Volunteers staying for longer will experience working with more monkey groups.

The usual volunteer timetable will be: 

  • Early mornings: 4/5am-6/7am (depending on sunrise) – distributing food and water before dawn, ready for when the monkeys wake up. During winter months this includes putting out hot water bottles for the smaller primates. Volunteers typically have this early morning shift once or twice a week but may opt out if they prefer
  • Mornings: 9am-12 midday – checking on food and water, topping up where necessary and monitoring monkeys for any unusual behaviour or health issues, usually followed by cleaning an enclosure (this may include cutting hay for bedding) 
  • Lunchtime: 12 midday-2pm – Break for lunch and free time
  • Afternoons: 2-4pm – Topping up the monkey’s food and water where needed, creating enrichments, building or helping with maintenance of enclosures and the sanctuary 
  • 4-4:30pm – Providing the monkeys with treats and putting out food and water for the nocturnal animals 
  • Sun-down – collecting in the monkey’s food and water bowls after sun-down, once they have gone to sleep

Daily duties are worked out on a rota basis, to give volunteers free time to travel around the local and surrounding areas.

Other volunteers

There are usually 4-15 volunteers with a maximum of 20, 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 South Africa Monkey Rescue reviews.

Local Support

You will be supported by the local team who are located at the project site where the volunteer accomodation is based. The project was founded by Sue over 30 years ago and her passion for the animals is infectious! She is well respected for her studies on the behavioural patterns of captive and orphaned primates, and suggestions on how to best rehabilitate them.

Accommodation

The volunteer house is based within the centre so you are just a few steps away from the monkeys. Your accommodation is a very basic shared dorm-style room with bunk beds and shared bathrooms in the volunteer house. A private room may be available on request. There are shared living areas both inside and outside that volunteers use for socialising and relaxing in their free time. There is good phone signal onsite, but no access to WIFI.

Meals

Meals are not included in this placement and volunteers will prepare their own meals at the accommodation. Here are typical examples of the meals which you can buy at local supermarkets, restaurants and cafes:

  • Breakfast – fruit, cereal, toast, eggs
  • Lunch – sandwiches, salad, pasta, noodles
  • Dinner – pizza, salads, pasta, burgers, stews

There are vegetarians and vegans options available. 

The tap water is safe to drink.

Location and free time

The sanctuary is located outside of Pretoria, one of South Africa’s 3 capital cities. The city is known by locals as “Jacaranda City” for its thousands of jacaranda trees lining the streets with beautiful purple blossom. The city is home to a number of universities and museums, galleries and botanical gardens making it a fantastic place to explore during your time off.

The sanctuary is based in a rural area just outside of the city and is in a perfect position to visit local game reserves, a water park, malls, a cultural village and an elephant sanctuary. Longer trips can also be taken to visit Kruger National Park. These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.

You will have two days off per week to explore the local area or travel further afield.

Travelling in South Africa before or after your placement

South Africa is situated at the southern tip of Africa and ranges from desert to sub-tropical. With dramatic landscapes, amazing wildlife and a rich and diverse culture and interesting history, South Africa has something for everyone. Popular activities in South Africa include:

  • Spotting the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) on safari
  • Travelling the Garden Route
  • Visiting Cape Town and sampling some of the local wines

For more information on South Africa and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our South Africa country page. This also features all our other South Africa 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!

Climate

The project is located just outside Pretoria, where the climate is considered warm and subtropical. The seasons vary from hot summers, to temperate winters. Rainy summers typically start in October and end around March, with temperatures averaging between 17-28 degrees Celsius. The dry season is during the winter months from April to September, when the daytime averages temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius and night time temperatures get down to around 5 degrees.

Dates

You can start on any day.

What's Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • Accommodation - a simple shared room
  • 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
  • Vaccinations and medication
  • Transfers to / from the project
  • Living costs - food, snacks, drinks, laundry
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
1 week £545 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £235 GB Pounds

Discounts

  • £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 Monkey Rescue project

Caitlin

“Everyone at the Monkey Rescue was incredibly welcoming and friendly from the first moment I met them! I loved every second I spent at the project, and although there was a fair amount of cleaning involved, you still have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the monkeys. Every short termer gets monkey time, in which you get the opportunity to go in an enclosure with a select few of the monkeys. These times were always my favourite!!!

I’m so glad that I chose this project to get involved with, it’s such a rewarding project and I loved getting to know all the primates, especially when you can experience their different personalities and the way they react to everything.”

Ethan

“Working with the primates is such an amazing experience. It was very different to how I thought it would be in such a good way. The main thing that took me by surprise is how different all the monkeys are, they all have unique personalities and they stand out loud and clear within a matter of days.

It was great to experience such a different culture to the UK. Most rewarding was simply being able to help out an organisation that gives everything it has to the welfare of their monkeys, not only with my donation but with my time working at the project.”

Stacey

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent here. I learned a lot about monkeys and life in South Africa. It was amazing to get the chance to work so closely with the monkeys. The other volunteers were very helpful and there was always something to help with. I enjoyed monkey time with the squirrels and Thimone. My faves were Shapken Louie Charlotte Maitai Celeste, and many others!

The volunteer house is basic but it’s South Africa and it’s an unreal experience overall. You really do learn a lot and get to immerge yourself in real rural South Africa. Most rewarding was being with the monkeys and helping to make a difference.”

Jeanne

“I had never done anything like this before, but now I can’t imagine planning a big vacation without some element of service in it. Volunteering was fun and rewarding. The work was not too strenuous and the hours were reasonable. I loved getting to know the different monkeys and learning about their various personalities, temperaments and needs.

It was great to be working outdoors and the country was absolutely gorgeous. I felt completely appreciated and valued, by the head of the project as well as the volunteer coordinator and other staff there. For learning about and helping the animals, getting outdoors and being physical, and meeting new people from around the world, I could not imagine a better first volunteer experience.”

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monkeys rescued

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

Bee

Pod UK Specialist

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

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • South Africa Monkey Rescue – Anja

    “This really was the best time of my life. The people were so welcoming; there is a real sense of team spirit and of being part of something really valuable. I got to spend so much time with the monkeys!”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • South Africa Monkey Rescue – Braden

    “My time at the Monkey Rescue project was great. Everyone was really friendly and helping out with all aspects of the monkeys was really interesting and rewarding. I would definitely recommend it!”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • South Africa Monkey Rescue – Caitlin

    “Everyone at the Monkey Rescue was incredibly welcoming and friendly from the first moment I met them! I loved every second I spent at the project. I'm so glad that I chose this project to get involved with!”

    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