Monkey Rescue

South 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 primates, volunteers provide care and enrichment for the rescued primates. You will also 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 primates.


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 / €640 / $700 - 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 centre currently cares for over 100 primates, including marmosets, tamarins, capuchins, macaques, squirrel monkeys, mona monkeys, patas monkeys and grey mouse lemurs. There are also other rescued animals on site including fennec foxes, grey mouse lemurs, sugar gliders, tortoises, dogs and cats.

Volunteers at the centre are involved in caring for the animals directly as well as helping to maintain their enclosures. Each day will differ and volunteer tasks include:

  • Food preparation
  • Cleaning enclosures
  • Building and maintaining enclosures
  • Behavioural observation and monitoring
  • Primate relocation
  • Making monkey beds
  • Providing enrichment
  • Hand rearing (if it is needed during your stay)

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

Working days and hours

You will generally be working for 5 days and have 2 days off per week. 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.

Why are volunteers needed?

The centre survives almost entirely on the support that volunteers provide. Whilst there are local staff onsite, they are often over-stretched with daily care tasks and so volunteers provide the monkeys with extra care and attention. The primates are often unable to be released into the wild so this is essential for their well-being and quality of life.

Volunteers also help to look after the sanctuary, maintaining existing enclosures and building new ones so that the project can continue to provide a comfortable safe haven for primates and other animals.

“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

Location, free time and accommodation

South Africa

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

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet South Africa.

Local area 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.


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. 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.

Read volunteer reviews from the Monkey Rescue project


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”

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 - a 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
  • Accommodation - a simple shared room
  • Arrangement of airport pickup
  • Induction and training
  • 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), food, cost of 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
1 week £545 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £235 GB Pounds

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


monkeys rescued

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


Pod UK Specialist

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  • 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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  • 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