A two week trip for 16-17 year olds to work with rescued elephants, monkeys, bears and other animals in tropical Thailand.
You will support the team in caring the animals at the centre including feeding, cleaning enclosures and providing enrichments. 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 on their return, volunteers act as ambassadors for the project, raising awareness of these issues and what can be done to help them.
Explore Thailand’s vibrant night markets, fascinating bat caves, relaxing spa and visit a National Park as part of the trip.
Join a group on this supported trip, accompanied by a Pod Volunteer Team Leader.
You will be part of the Pod Volunteer Under-18 Team spending two weeks volunteering at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project. This project is the same established volunteering project we work with all year round, but we provide a higher level of support both pre-departure and during the placement itself, including a dedicated leader who will travel out from the UK with the group and accompany you throughout your volunteer placement.
The Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue centre operates as a sanctuary to abused, neglected or injured animals. There are currently over 500 rescued animals at the centre including around 10-20 Asian elephants, approximately 300 primates, 25 bears and a variety of other small mammals, birds and reptiles although the number of animals at the centre can fluctuate throughout the year due to releases and new rescues.
You will spend time volunteering on both the Elephant Care role and the Wildlife Rescue role, this will give you an amazing opportunity to be involved with all aspects of life at the centre.
The exact nature of the work you will be doing varies and everyday jobs include:
Other possible tasks include:
Volunteers may also be allocated some domestic duties, assisting with the housekeeping of the centre (kitchen, bathroom cleaning etc.) and dog duty, which involves caring for the rescued dogs on site.
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 included as part of the trip.
As part of the placement the following excursions are included:
There are usually 10-16 team members of the U18 team. At the centre, there are usually 15-30 volunteers on each role with a maximum of 70 volunteers in total, but this varies considerably throughout the year.
This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.
Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Thailand Under 18 Volunteering reviews.
Whilst each elephant is cared for by a dedicated mahout and the sanctuary employs full time local staff to care for the other animals, they 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 animals 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
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:
To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Thailand
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.
There are nice areas for everyone to sit and relax in the evening, volunteers often socialise with others, read or watch a DVD in the evenings.
As part of the placement the following excursions are included:
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.
“This trip was absolutely amazing, I am having Thailand blues, missing all the people that I met. You get to meet and speak to all the friendly coordinators and the other volunteers from across the world, you really feel included. Time flies by when you are out in this beautiful country, you get 2 days off and they are both well organised and are lots of fun. We got to go to 2 night markets, spent a day at the spa (very relaxing!) And we even got to see elephants in the wild!
The whole experience was unforgettable, working the long days showering and walking the elephants or feeding the gibbons was just so rewarding. It’s just knowing that you are taking part in this bigger picture, especially when you learn some of the animals’ tragic background stories but then, you can see the incredible improvements in the individual elephant or macaque or other wildlife.”
“I couldn’t fault any aspect of my trip to Thailand via Pod. Thailand is truly an exotic place, it’s always full of energy and extremely vibrant and I wouldn’t change anything about it! My experience was one in which I will never forget. I loved every little bit of my stay. The accommodation at the wildlife centre was new and exciting. The staff and other volunteers at the centre were all so welcoming and fun, I felt right at home as soon as I arrived!
I think the most amazing part of my trip away was working with all the inspiring wildlife that they home at the centre. For me, the elephants were the deal breakers. To be able to work alongside one of the most majestic creatures on earth was life changing in its self. To know that I am helping make a difference to any of the animals lives at the centre, may it be a gibbon or a macaque, means the world to me.”
“Despite there being a lot of hard physical labour, the wildlife trip for under 18s is one of the best experiences a 16/17 year old can have. You are in a strange new place without anyone you know, and while the Pod team ensures the entire trip runs smoothly and is available to answer any of your questions, you are forced to use your initiative and become highly independent, two vital skills for the “real world”.
You gain a sense of independence, as well as being able to learn about another country’s culture—rather than staying in a hotel in a tourist area, you will be in the middle of the “real” country, so you will gain a better understanding of what the country is like while you work. And since you can’t go home every day after work, it still feels like a holiday!”
“I am very impressed with the organisation before the trip and the communication we received while our daughter was away. The booking system, advice and support (before and during the trip) for us and our daughter cannot be faulted. Our daughter was travelling without anyone she knew but the communication via email and the pre-trip telephone call left me in no doubt she would be able to enjoy the experience of independent travel but with Pod’s support if needed.
I would definitely use this company again and have/would happily recommend them to other families. A massive thank you for all the hard work you put into giving my daughter memories she will treasure for a lifetime.”
Not included: Flights and travel insurance. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply. We also provide advice and guidance on flights and travel insurance.
|2 weeks||£1495||GB Pounds|
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
years rescuing, caring and campaigning for animals in need
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"In the future I know that I want to work with animals, this trip helped to confirm this. It was very hard work which was intensified by the heat and humidity; be prepared to get hot, sweaty and dirty but have a lot of fun doing it!"Read more volunteer reviews
“I was just one kid, but I went half way across the world to do something I was that passionate about; and in return found tons of other people coming together to do something amazing.”Read more volunteer reviews
"I can honestly that the Thailand Under 18’s Wildlife Rescue trip was the experience of a lifetime, providing me with incredible memories that I will never forget. I got more out of the trip than I ever expected."Read more volunteer reviews