Wildlife Rescue - Volunteer Reviews

THAILAND

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Wildlife Rescue project

Emily and Anthony Wildlife Rescue - 2020

“Myself and my nephew spent two amazing weeks working on wildlife. It was hard work but so rewarding. Anthony was treated the same as any other volunteer and loved the work especially when we scrubbed the otter pool! 

We went on a couple of trips in the evening that the centre arranged we went to the bat cave which was brilliant and enjoyed walking around the night market. We also went to a national park at sunset which was so beautiful! Arranging to do things on your days off is very easy just pick where you want to go and the centre arranged the taxi. We had one day at the lodge swimming pool which was bliss swimming whilst watching elephants go by! 

The whole two weeks was wonderful and would definitely recommend this was anyone of has a love of animals. Although prepare to be wet and dirty all day long! 

What did you find most challenging? 
The long days with the early starts 

Is there any advice that you would give to others who are considering this placement? 
Be prepared for long days and a lot of scrubbing. But along as you expect never to be clean and dry it’s all good fun! 

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I volunteered last year with pod and found them well organised and helpful.”

Mimi, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2020

“My experience with Pod was great!! My questions were answered promptly, and with care. I felt totally supported in my planning before, during and after my travel. I would, and have recommended Pod to my friends and family!
I absolutely loved my time volunteering at the project!! I loved the work, hard, hot, dusty!! I felt like I was in my 20's again. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many new people, all ages and from all over the world!! The work with the wildlife and elephants was challenging and rewarding. For me, it was like being at camp! I had a great experience and look forward to more volunteering with Pod in the future!

What did you find most rewarding?
I loved the hard, physical work!! It was so great to be in an environment where everyone and everything was new, exciting and challenging! The elephants and wildlife were incredible. While they come from really hard and sad circumstances, the life they're being provided at the centre is the best case scenario for them to live out their days with safety, care and love.

What did you find most challenging?
Honestly, the most challenging thing for me was learning the history of the rescued animals. Most, if not all the wildlife and elephants came to the centre following a really hard and abusive past. This was a hard and harsh reality that was challenging to understand.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Read through all of the material, plan, prepare. Volunteering is work and so incredibly rewarding. Be ready to work! Enjoy! Stay open to all of the possibilities and opportunities that arise.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
After thoroughly reading about several volunteer abroad programs, I kept coming back to Pod!! Honestly, the accolades from the Post, NYT and other media I respect had a huge pull! I feel Pod does a good job vetting the programs they support, this was important to me. I'm glad I wasn't disappointed!

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes”

Freya, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2019

“I absolutely loved it. Working with such a variety of animals every day, meeting so many lovely people- I knew I would enjoy it but it exceeded my expectations. On the Wildlife side, the work can definitely be physically hard and there are long days but you're under the shade a lot of the time which is nice, and it definitely all feels worth it- cold showers are actually quite appreciated afterwards! The Elephants project was a lot slower paced, but also in the direct sun a lot more so this felt necessary. I was so glad I chose to do both projects and would recommend that to anyone as I feel like it would be a shame to miss out on either aspect of this wonderful place. 

What did you find most rewarding? 

Probably giving enrichments to the animals on the Wildlife project- even if they do pull them apart in seconds sometimes! On my last week on the Elephant project I was fortunate enough to be involved with feeding an elephant as she was walked to her new enclosure and that was something that I felt very privileged to be a part of. There are also some lovely places nearby to visit on a day off (there is a booklet kept in the volunteer house which has details about lots of options) and you'll definitely feel like you've earned them the day off. I really enjoyed getting to see new places, and share those experiences with the people I'd met on the trip. 

What did you find most challenging? 

Probably the mosquitos- because you almost certainly will get bitten! I was also slightly anxious initially because it was my first time travelling totally on my own, but Pod Volunteer were great at arranging everything like the taxi pick-up, and as soon as you arrive you become so immersed in the experience and meet so many new people that all that vanishes. The food was also not my favourite part, but it is decent enough and there are local shops to pick up extra bits if you feel like it. 

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? 

Do it! I think that is my only advice really! It's so worth it and you'll have an amazing time. Definitely do not expect a luxury experience, but if you've come for the wildlife then you're in the perfect place. 

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? 
I chose them because they seemed to be very transparent and were frankly one of the only ethical volunteering abroad organisations that I felt certain I could trust. I am very glad I did choose them to volunteer with as they were brilliantly communicative all the way through.”

Sara, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2019

"My application and booking process was very easy through Pod, whenever I had any questions they always helped me ASAP. My experience at the centre was amazing, I made great friends and had an amazing time in general. The work is hard and labour-intensive at some points, so it is not your 'normal' holiday, but if you're prepared to put the work in for the animals and the centre it is so worth it.

What did you find most rewarding?
Getting to see the animals enjoy their space after we had cared for them and cleaned their enclosures, as well as the social aspect

What did you find most challenging?
Working in temperamental weather and nothing ever truly being dry (humid climate!)

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to work! This is not for people who just want to see cute animals, work comes before anything as you are there to help the centre and the animals. Also bring lots of spare clothes and bring gloves!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
It seemed like a trustworthy company with a wide range of volunteer placements

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? 
Yes"

Aude, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2019

“At first, I thought it would be really hard to get used to all of this. The hard and dirty work, the heat, having to make new friends, being so far from home for so long. I wasn't sure I would be capable of doing it, but as soon as you arrive to centre, all your worries disappear. The first few days I was feeling really homesick and wasn't sure I made a good choice by coming, but then you start meeting people and everybody is experiencing the same thing, everybody is so friendly so you instantly feel better and from there it just became the best experience I ever lived. Even the work isn't that hard once you give up on staying clean. The more you stay, the more you learn to know the animals and their personality and sometimes you can even see a little of their evolution. That is what it is about and it's nice to help change some lives in a good way.”

Samantha, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2019

"An excellent experience from booking through to returning home. Support was excellent and as someone who hadn't travelled for a good while, and was solo it was a very reassuring. Information provided excellent, I knew exactly what I was getting and what preparations I needed to make so I could travel with confidence.

I stumbled across Pod Volunteer quite by accident and whilst I was looking for a holiday at the time I hadn't considered a holiday like this, to be honest I didn't even know such opportunities existed. However once I saw what was on offer I was hooked. I booked almost straight away and from that point forward felt fully supported, and as a lone traveller that was important.

That support continued once there, the local team were great and the other volunteers were welcoming. Working with the wildlife was a fantastic experience and really rewarding. The animals all have such sad stories but being able to help give them a better future felt great. The work was physically demanding, and the days quite long but for me, who works at a desk, it was just what I needed.

As well as the animals I met some super people both volunteers and staff. I have made friends with people from all over the world and I hope to sustain those friendships. It was a fantastic experience, I would do it again and recommend it to anyone who wants something a bit different, a challenge and an opportunity to make a difference.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being close to the animals, meeting new friends

What did you find most challenging?
Nothing

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to work hard and get dirty. But there is nothing more satisfying than being tired at the end of the day after an honest days
work.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Found by chance but looked to provide the support I would need, and I wasn't disappointed

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes"

Narelle, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

"I volunteered in Thailand with both the Wildlife Rescue and Elephant Care roles for 4 weeks.
This was my first volunteering experience, first time overseas and first time travelling alone.
My Pod Volunteer Specialist was Iona and her assistance couldn't have been better! She answered all of my questions, allowing me to travel with less to worry about.
I spent 2 weeks at the Wildlife Rescue Centre looking after animals such as the macaques, gibbons, lorises, civets, otters, pigs etc. Here we prepared their food, cleaned their enclosures, made them enrichments and participated in 'special projects' which included scrubbing pools. All of these activities helped to ensure that all of the animals are living their best life, with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild. It was great to see how hard each volunteer worked every day, despite the long working hours. All of the volunteers had a similar passion for animals and their welfare. There were English speaking coordinators on site all day there to help out and answer any queries you may have throughout the day. I loved working with all of the animals especially the gibbons as they have great personalities and are a joy to be around.
The following 2 weeks I was working at the Elephant Refuge. These days were tiring as we were working in the direct heat as compared to the wildlife. Making banana balls was messy but a lot of fun, as you get to hand feed the elephants with them. I got the opportunity to walk some elephants and wash them as well.
The hot climate wasn't the best for the bugs during the night and trying to dry your clothes however, I met amazing people from across the world whom made the experience incredible and one that I will forever treasure.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found the most rewarding thing was knowing how vital the volunteers are and that your help is making sure these animals are living their best life, free from the torture and abuse from humans. It was fantastic to experience how beautiful these creatures are and amazing to meet like-minded friends along the way.

What did you find most challenging?
I found the bugs during the night and the laundry taking days to dry, quite challenging.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
My advice would be to pack summer clothes that are suitable to work in such as shorts/leggings, t-shirts and sandals. The weather is hot and rainy, so it is better to wear shoes that don't require socks (unless you are on harvest with the Elephant Refuge). It is also good to read many reviews from the project, both good and bad, to mentally prepare yourself for what the experience will entail."

Mary, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

“Working at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only is the scale of the place astounding, the people there are amazing and the work you do is truly fulfilling. I’ve made some life-long friends and some really remarkable memories. Working as part of the wildlife team was so much fun, less hands on but equally as exciting, and working with the elephants was something that will stay with me in for the rest of my life. I cannot stress how brilliant this organisation is enough.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Stay sociable (you’re much more likely to get on with everyone if you try to get involved) and appreciate all the work you do- the animals really are grateful!”

Ellie, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

“The pod workers were extremely friendly and helpful, and the project on the ground was amazing. 100% the experience of a lifetime and I'd recommend it to anyone! The staff were all wonderful and I met some great friends from all over the world. The centre is really doing such vital work, and it feels fantastic to know that what you do every day makes a huge difference to animals that often have extremely sad histories.

The accommodation was way better than I expected, and the centre and Pod Team were brilliant in helping to reassure me as a first-time lone traveller. The airport pickup was a super easy process and really put me at ease. It is also extremely easy to see some beautiful things in Thailand on your days off or evenings. I recommend the bat caves, night markets, and temple caves!

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the animals with their enrichments! Absolute pain to make but it's entirely worth it when you see the animals with them.

What did you find most challenging?

The heat! working such long hours in heat was pretty hard, especially since I'm from a cold area of the UK.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

BUG SPRAY!! But definitely do it if you're on the fence, you will feel safe the whole time and it's so incredibly rewarding.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

It was recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh website, and upon enquiry, the POD team were very helpful.”

Jane, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

“This was a fantastic experience. The first few days were very challenging, as there was so much to do and to get used to. I didn't factor in jet lag until I looked back and realised that this had made me very tired. There was always someone to help or to ask. The leaders were incredibly supportive and helpful, and were always available to support us. They worked harder than the volunteers. I would recommend trying to book for at least 2 weeks, because by the second week we had got into a rhythm with the tasks.

As an older person, I wondered how I would get on, but the other volunteers were incredibly friendly. We worked in teams of 3 and there was a daily jobs list. The expectation was that we had a team leader who would train us to lead a group after a couple of days. This seemed daunting, but was a great challenge. It meant that we quickly got the opportunity to work with and for the animals in ways that would not be possible at home. I was pleased that on my day off I got up early with the other volunteers and took time to really study the animals we had been looking after.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being challenged, and overcoming my fears.Living and working so close to a wide range of creatures. Making new friends

What did you find most challenging?
The first day's work. Temperatures up to 40 on some days.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
You will have an amazing time. Accept and respect local traditions. Book at least 2 weeks if you can. If you wear flip flops, it’s likely that you will injure your feet, and wounds take a long time to heal due to the climate and the working conditions. Trainers were a must, even when it was so hot.
 
Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
They had good ethics and had won a travel volunteer award.”

Scarlett, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

"I volunteered on the wildlife rescue and elephant care project and have had the time of my life. I was able to be an influential part of these incredible animals day to day lives and not only was I helping them, I also had the most incredible experience myself. As I was there for 2 months it was great to be able to see animals that were rescued while I was there develop into their own characters and get stronger every day. I cannot recommend this experience enough.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part was creating enrichments for animals throughout the day and seeing the animals actually work for their food. This made me feel like we were really showing them parallels to what it’s really like out in the wild.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part was getting up early and working all day, 5 or 6 days a week. The work is definitely strenuous so it isn’t easy. However, the work is so rewarding and your surroundings are so beautiful that it makes it a lot easier.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
The one piece of advice I would give is to stay as long as you can. The longer you stay, the more you get your head around everything and become more confident. My best weeks were my last few weeks where I had practiced certain activities and mailed them so that I was not only improving my own skills but also improving the life for the elephants.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I chose pod volunteer as they do so much worldwide I wanted to use a charity who are making a global difference.”

Georgina, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

“I decided to do 2 weeks at wildlife and 4 weeks of elephants at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project. What I loved about wildlife is the fact that I was working with different animals on a daily basis. It was amazing being able to feed these animals and watch them try and figure out our enrichments.

Working with elephants was also magical. The first time I walked an elephant I was ecstatic. We would all get up at 6 am and work till 5pm, which was a long working day. However, as you are working with these animals and with awesome people that share the same interests, time flies by in a second. The staff on sight are amazing and they will help you with anything you need. Although these have probably been the 6 most exhausting weeks of my life they have definitely been the most rewarding!

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the elephants in a happy state, wagging their ears and tails was probably the most rewarding.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Get ready to be the sweatiest and dirtiest you have ever been. There is not a day where you won’t look forward to the shower.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Pod Volunteer seemed very reliable and trustworthy.”

Hannah, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2018

“Volunteering at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project in Thailand was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! I entered the project as a solo traveller but due to the design of daily activities I made friends fast from all over the world and still remain in contact with some of them. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the project and quality of enclosures and maintenance provided for the animals. The organisation of the project is extremely efficient and designed to make your working day as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

The centre is well placed and only a 45 minute drive from the beach and shopping centres. Another great thing about the centre is that they have provide small day and night trips to shopping centres, night markets and a national park just to name a few that you can partake in on your day off or after a day or work.

Something to keep in mind however when considering this project is that the daily work is exhausting and the days are long (6:30am - 5pm with 3 x hour breaks). Depending on where you room is you will also be woken by gibbons and roosters in the morning and possibly dogs at night but you do adjust fairly quickly. Also expect to get very dirty! A showers every day is a necessity but don't expect anything fact as they have no hot water, but I can verify that a cold shower can be very refreshing after a long day's work in the hot sun.

What did you find most rewarding?

Knowing the heart breaking back stories of some of the animals and seeing them in an environment where they are loved and cared for

What did you find most challenging?

The long work days

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

I would recommend doing it for a minimum of 3 weeks as I did it for 2 weeks and wished I could stay for longer

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Because it was widely recommended online.”

Jenny, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“Pod Volunteer have given me so much support in the weeks prior to my placement which made me feel more at ease. I met the most amazing people and animals during this project and they are experiences and memories I will cherish forever.

I found Pod Volunteer online and researched them and the reviews were very good so I went ahead and booked 4 weeks on this project. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it has been for me. I have been given the most amazing support from Pod, before, during and after the project, which helped with my anxiety massively. I have had the most unbelievably amazing experience at this project and I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life. It has not only educated me on wildlife and elephants, but it has given me lifelong friendships and the confidence to continue to travel alone. This has by far been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and would do it again in a heartbeat.

What did you find most rewarding?

Knowing that I was making a difference with every job I did.

What did you find most challenging?

The Mosquitos!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Be prepared for an amazing experience that will change your life

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I researched and found very good reviews.”

Bryan, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“There is nothing in the world like the feeling you get working closely with people from all walks of life unified by the common goal of helping animals. We are all at our best in these moments and I have created memories and friends for life, both animal and human.

The work is, at times, hard, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. On the elephant side you are providing care in a "forever home" for creatures that have endured abuse from humans for DECADES and you, as a volunteer, get to make their last years comfortable. Very rewarding.

On the wildlife side, the centre has the best release rate in all of Asia at over 60%. The care that you provide is done at some physical distance from the animals and there is a very strict no touching policy (One offence and you will be warned, do it again and you will be removed from the site immediately). There are many reasons for this. Disease transmission (both ways), danger of bites and scratches, etc. But the main reason is that they want these animals to go back to their natural mistrust of humans so they have a chance to survive in the wild. The stories of how the animals were found are heartbreaking so it is rewarding to be able to right the past wrongs of our fellow humans

What did you find most rewarding?

Giving help to so many kinds of animals so much in need. From domestics like dogs, cats and pigs to the primates and elephants. There is such demand for our help.

What did you find most challenging?

Nothing really. Long hours fly by. Avoiding infection. Small bite that I didn't even feel sent me to hospital within a few days. I would bring more antiseptic wipes and bandages next time

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Be aware that you are offering to volunteer your help and labour. This is not a holiday with animals. There are "special projects" daily that involve had work - scrubbing pools, painting upkeep. You will work hard enough to work up a sweat, get thirsty and feel tired at the end of the day. Welcome it

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Excellent website. I was considering an elephant rescue but wasn't sure where I wanted to go. Pod had lots of options. Other people who came to the centre by other volunteer organizations were unhappy with the service. I could not have been happier with Pod and the professional way that one coordinator would hand me off to someone new. Excellent service. The centre in Thailand are very happy to be associated with Pod and gave their own glowing reviews of dealing with Pod. Your communication training to your staff is EXCELLENT”

Rebecca, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“Before arriving I was very anxious about travelling half way around the world on my own. Having said that Pod Volunteer helped me throughout the process to have a stress free journey. When I arrived at the centre I was greeted by the staff who took us for a tour around the centre, I quickly made friends, who I would now say, are friends that I hope will be for life!

The work was hard but rewarding, getting to connect with the wildlife each day was what motivated me to wake up at the crack of dawn each morning. Two weeks of Wildlife Rescue flew by and I was onto Elephant Care, having high expectations it did not disappoint.

Handling the elephants on a one to one basis was incredible, getting to care for these animals and see their improvement day by day is something I never thought I could experience. I would recommend this project to everyone and best of all I have made the greatest friends whilst travelling here.

What did you find most rewarding?

Caring for the elephants each day and seeing their improvement in character from nervous, cautious animals to bold, confident but still, caring creatures.

What did you find most challenging?

Waking up at 5:30am each morning

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Bring lots of medical supplies, it is not uncommon to get cuts and scratches which if not careful will become infected.”

Marta, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“I volunteered in the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue projects in Thailand and I absolutely fell in love with that place. I was only staying there for three weeks, but it was so amazing to work there that I decided to extend and stay there for 2 more weeks. The work there is very rewarding, every day at 6am when the alarm rings and it’s time to get out of bed, I would think of those amazing animals I was going to care for, and every single day it was so easy to get out of bed and work all day. In the night I would feel happy, tired, but satisfied and I would think "everyday here is a great day. There are no bad days here". The people who work there are also AMAZING and played a major role on my happiness while working there. I definitely recommend these projects to people who love animals, are hard workers and love nature.

What did you find most rewarding?

Watching those beautiful animals every day and knowing that I was contributing for their day to be better

What did you find most challenging?

Coming back home 

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Bring clothes that you don't care for and repellent!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Felt secure and I liked Pod since my first contact with Lucy.”

Victoria, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“I had a wonderful time volunteering at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project. My experiences there were life changing and some of the best of my life. Lucy and everyone at Pod helped me prepare for every aspect of my travels. Even though I went alone, It never felt like I was. Getting the chance to meet the animals was just as wonderful as meeting other volunteers from all around the world. The only thing I would have done differently, would have been to explore and travel other parts of Thailand either before or after my time volunteering.

What did you find most rewarding?

Knowing that your time, efforts and money are going to a wonderful cause.

What did you find most challenging?

The actual amount of work. I knew it would be difficult but it was definitely more challenging than expected, especially the wildlife portion.” 

Mirjana, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

"I had an amazing time and experience. I'm so happy I did this and it wouldn't been possible without Pod Volunteer! Thank you. I had an amazing time at the project. I made new friends and memories I'll never forget about, and mostly I got the experience I've always wanted: being close to and helping animals. I recommend this project to everyone who has a passion for wildlife and for animals overall.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being close to animals all day, waking up in the morning by gibbon sounds and dogs barking. May not sound that wonderful, but believe me - it was.

What did you find most challenging?
To find the energy and strength to work. I come from Sweden and I am not that used to such a warm climate, so I got easily tired by the heat. Also we were often up late and waking up early in the morning, it was sometimes hard to keep up with that tempo and those routines. But it was all worth it in the end, I found my motivation in what I was doing for the animals!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
It will all be just fine, don't worry too much. But one tip I have is to bring cortisone and band aids, because EVERYONE got mosquito bites and it was super nice to have it with me and treat my bites in a good way.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
No, it's not a hotel, it's a volunteer center. As long as the animals are happy - I am happy! I’m just glad the money I'm paying is NOT going to cleaning our rooms but for the animals well being.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
You had the placement I was looking for available and you are non-profit, something which is very important to me."

Lizzie, Wildlife Rescue - 2017

"I spent two weeks volunteering at the Wildlife Rescue centre in Thailand. Pod Volunteer provided so much information about the placement hence when I arrived it was very close to what I expected. I was staying up in the female dorms by the elephants and the rooms were actually a lot nicer than I anticipated. There were cold water showers, and quite a few bugs in the shower rooms but accommodation definitely wouldn't put me off this project. The work day was very tiring! We started at 6:30am and finished at about 5:30pm. By the end of my two weeks I was physically exhausted, but I went expecting this to be the case and was glad to have a lot of work to do as it reinforced the dependence of the centre on volunteers and it was nice to know you were actually wanted there. I went alone to the project and would definitely recommend it to anyone unsure!

What did you find most rewarding?
Doing necessary work for the animals such as preparing food and cleaning, and learning a lot about other cultures by meeting many other volunteers.

What did you find most challenging?
The physically demanding work and there were a few mosquitos.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this
placement?
Go for it.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The website was very clear and they were very helpful and got everything sorted quickly."

Katie, Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“Volunteering at the wildlife rescue center in Thailand enabled me to gain new knowledge about the animals within the center and meet inspiring people despite only being there a week. I would not change a single thing about my stay there, my only regret was not staying a second week to work with the elephants as I only did one week with other wildlife. All the leaders were so helpful and knowledgable and the center provided plenty of trips in the evenings and for days off in order to keep us occupied in free time and be able to explore the local towns and villages. All in all it was worth every penny and hope to return again in the future

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the difference after completing a job

What did you find most challenging?
Hearing about the animals and their pasts

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Don't be scared to take the plunge and risk, it's definitely worth it and you meet a lot of amazing and inspiring people

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Seemed trustworthy, good prices and reliable

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Louise, Wildlife Rescue, 2017

“Me and my partner volunteered here for the first week of our honeymoon. We had the most amazing and wonderful experience and it is something we will never forget. From first signing up with pod volunteer, the communication from start to finish was spot on.
This place was magical and although hard work in basic conditions we wouldn't change it for the world. The staff were so friendly and the love they have for these animals is unconditional. We met some amazing young people from all over the world who all shared the same love for animals and it was just perfect. Because of this we have promised ourselves to volunteer every year at a different place and create more memories. I would recommend this to anyone and am truly blessed to have been a part of it.

What did you find most rewarding?
Meeting other volunteers and helping with the rehabilitation of so many different animals.

What did you find most challenging?
Working in the heat but it was to be expected.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to work hard and go with an open mind and heart

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
We chose Thai land for our honeymoon location and they had the most centres there to choose from

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes. Just to say thank you so much for the incredible experience”

Sophia, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“My experience volunteering in Thailand was one I won't forget. I got to work with wildlife and elephants, every day was very hard work but I have never worked in a situation where I had felt so rewarded.

What did you find most rewarding? Every day was rewarding as I knew that the work I was doing was helping the animals and that their lives were better at the centre.

What did you find most challenging? Probably the work, the days are very long and you definitely have to be physically there!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? If you're considering the placement then you should be prepared to work like you haven't before, meet people that you wouldn't usually at home and if you aren't sure whether to go or not, just remember your decision should be based the animals! You also have to get your hands dirty on the placement and go head first.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I was looking for somewhere to volunteer and I just typed it on google! I looked at Pod volunteers website and decided I was going to go with them!”

Liberty, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“Had the most amazing experience of my life. I cannot wait to go back! I loved working with the elephants, but decided to spend more time on Wildlife as there is so much to do and the team work was awesome.

What did you find most rewarding? Helping to put together a new enclosure.

What did you find most challenging? Adjusting to the food.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Just do it! Any reservations you may have can be addressed and people are all in the same boat and willing to help”

Jake, Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“Arriving at a remote wildlife sanctuary, in a country so far away from my own, was certainly daunting in the beginning; the people were new, the food different and the working hours long. Yet over the course of a month, I established somewhat of a rhythm. Adapting to the change in environment, my days became easier. I began to feel fulfilled by my labours, as the connection I cultivated with the centre deepened. Making improvements to the place that provided for me, and looking after animals that were such helpless beings, I found deeply satisfying. Close friendships with the people around me were also developed, adding a welcome pillar of support. Undertaking an experience such as this definitely shouldn't be underestimated, but the rewards to be had are many. This has undoubtedly been a life-changing event that will continue to shape me throughout the future.

What did you find most rewarding? Working and interacting with the elephants provides an unforgettable experience.

What did you find most challenging? The physical nature of the work definitely takes its toll!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Prepare for hard work!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Because they appeared to be a very reputable organisation, with many awards and accreditations to boast.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes. Thank you!”

Chloe, Wildlife Rescue - 2017

(Chloe was 14 years old and volunteered alongside her dad, Rob)

"I volunteered for one week, I worked with the primates and the other wildlife. Considering I was the youngest volunteer there, at the age of 14, people still were very nice towards me and didn't treat me differently. The experience I had was amazing and you really get close to the animals, you learn a lot about them too. The food is also amazing! The rules are strict, you can't touch any of the animals (except from the elephants and some animals who were blind) but I was very happy that they were in place as it showed you that the people working there really cared about the animals. I loved working there, and I'm planning on going back when I'm older, I definitely recommend going.

What did you find most rewarding?
Feeding the Langurs' without my hand getting smacked.

What did you find most challenging?
Feeding the Langurs' without my hand getting smacked.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Working a week there goes very quickly, if you want the full experience go for 2-3 weeks. It is hard work but very rewarding.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I have always wanted to visit Thailand but also wanted an experience whereby I would be working with the animals. I wanted to know the animals were well cared for and to see conservation at first hand.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Annie, Elephant Care &Wildlife Rescue - 2017

"What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the animals enjoying the enrichments we made for them

What did you find most challenging?
Leaving the animals behind and going home

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Expect physically hard work in high temperatures. However seeing the animals enjoying their newly cleaned enclosures or pools etc makes it worth it 100%.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good reviews online, and lots of support and advice given before placement

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Tzia, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“My volunteer experience was more then I thought it would be. You get to work with a great staff team that are very helpful and meet some great people. The animals were great too you get to watch them and get to know their personality, and see how the place changes over time. I would say a longer stay is better and you get to help make these changes. Can't wait to go back and see how it's changed even more.

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping fix up the enclosures

What did you find most challenging?
People who came and didn't really care about the animals and just wanted some cool pictures

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Expect to work hard but have fun doing it

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
It seemed like a good company to go with looked legit

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes”

Natasha, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2017

“My two months in Thailand at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project, was one of the best times of my life. I met wonderful people and looked after amazing animals, despite everything they've been through. I especially fell in love with Blue, the parrot and Simon, the three legged cow, to say nothing of the amazing elephants that I got to work with (Chokdee, the slow but always happy elephant was my favourite). Every day was similar and yet different (or as they love to say over there, same same but different), with the basic schedule of the day being the same but when working in different groups and having different special projects, each day feels different. This project was one of the best things I've ever done and I met some wonderful people and animals over there. If you're on the fence about it, then I say go for it!

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing was learning your way around a section and then being able to teach new volunteers.

What did you find most challenging?
I found the mosquitos the most challenging aspect. I wore insect repellent for the most part but I still got bitten a fair amount. They were quite itchy but the more you itched them, the more itchy they became. The key is to be able to ignore them right at the start and then they stop being itchy quite quickly.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
If not now, then when? This placement was one of the best things I have ever done and you meet so many wonderful people and meet such amazing creatures that it is worth every penny!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I used them for a previous trip and they were fantastic.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes.”

Moyin, Wildlife Rescue - 2017

"Great communication before and throughout my time there, also very fun and educational! Everyone there was very friendly and welcoming so you felt comfortable right away. Made many friends and had a lot of fun at the wildlife rescue centre.

What did you find most rewarding? Helping with the wildlife rehabilitation

What did you find most challenging? The weather

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Loads of hands on work which is great fun and messy so bring clothes you definitely don't mind getting ruined

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? The charity is very effective and definitely making a difference.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Zoe, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2017

"An amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone and everyone, thank you POD! The lifestyle, the environment, the people, the animals, nothing could compare to the experience I've had at this project! If your looking to work with and care for amazing animals, put in the hard yards for a rewarding experience of a lifetime and work with a group of amazing people then this is the place where'd you feel the most at home!

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the animals benefiting from all the work your doing and having the people be so kind and grateful for your contribution

What did you find most challenging? Not one bit of it was challenging, it's hard work but its work you want to get up for. At the end of the day you feel productive and can see your efforts building this foundation. The only thing I found challenging was leaving

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Be prepared for nothin but tears when you leave! I was only there for a month and I could've called it my home

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? I wouldn't change a thing!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? They are a great team of people who make the transition 100% drama free

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Jessie, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

"Volunteering at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project was a fantastic experience, it was so fantastic waking up to calls of elephants and gibbons every day. At first it was quite an overwhelming settling as there was so much to remember like the names of all the other volunteers, staff, all the animals and different places at the centre. But the volunteer coordinators did a very good job at making everyone feel welcome and giving guidance.

My room was very nice as I stayed in the elephant dorms that are new and I was put with roommates who I became very close with over the 2 weeks they were there. I met so many people on my placement from all around the world, the placement was a very social experience especially in the evenings and on bar nights and I felt as if all the volunteers were so like minded and passionate about the animals.

The days were very long and tiring but we did get a one hour break at breakfast and lunch so this allowed time to eat, chat to people, walk around and take pictures and rest. Every meal I ate I felt like it was so well deserved and the food was so fantastic and there were so many options. Volunteering at the Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue project really opened up my mind to so much in this world, I now feel so inspired to do more volunteer work, to help save our planet, travel and meet up with the people that I met at the centre.

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging part was definitely working long days from 6.30 till 5 in the heat and also the physical demand of banana tree harvest.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Definitely give both Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue a go as they are both at the same facility, take a few snacks for in between meals, take gumboots for the wet season, wear bugs spray and apply tiger balm to ant or mosquito bites, take lots of photos, stay longer than one week, be open minded and passionate about the work.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? It had really great options for placements, the staff were quick with their replies and the website page was very well organised."

Rachael, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

"The centre was such an inspiring and wonderful place to go and work at. All the staff were friendly and helpful and the Thai staff all had such wicked senses of humour! There was sometimes a language barrier, but it was always overcome by either a little bit of translation or just some good old fashioned hand gestures. I did both the Elephant volunteering and the Wildlife volunteering and both the coordinators Pin and Dave were so lovely and friendly. You learn so much about how these animals have been treated and it has taught me so much about animal cruelty and the importance of education in order to improve the quality of life for millions of animals across the world. The centre itself was in a beautiful area, with day trips available to surrounding areas and lots of fun activities organised by the centre. This experience was wonderful and one I will not forget. I miss it everyday and would truly go back there in a heartbeat.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Be prepared for challenging weather and an always changing group of volunteers!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? It seemed reasonably priced and had good connections with less obvious organisations across the globe.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes. Thank you for a wonderful trip!"

Drew, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

"I would never had considered doing a volunteer project however I found I had some time available and found Pod volunteering website and thought it looked interesting so I gave Sarah a call at Pod volunteering and she was most helpful in helping me decide as she explained my rolls in each project I thought off.

Once arriving in Thailand I was met by my taxi and taken straight to the elephants and wildlife project which was just like everything that was described to me by Sarah , it's true it does take a few days to adjust but once you do its such an amazing feeling you have looking after these wonderful animals knowing that the project and myself are helping them to hopefully be able to have a great life . The elephant’s part of my volunteering was breath-taking to be so close to these magnificent animals each with their own humourus personalities was amazing never had I thought I'd be so close to an elephant feeding them and taking them on short walks I'd recommend this project to anyone and have been chatting about it to everyone I meet as it's been a very great experience that I have came away with thanks to Sarah at Pod volenteering or arranging everything and making my trip hassle free

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
It's so rewarding knowing ur helping these animals and also hard as u get told of the hardships they have been through

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Spoke to Sarah and she sounded like she knew what's what and managed to explain the project well"

Amy, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

"Prepare to sweat, feel dirty and have to work hard!! It was truely an amazing project to be involved in and I was sad to leave the animals behind. The food and accommodation are very basic so dont be expecting luxury but if you make some good friends and make the most of the experience its worth it.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Expect long days in the sun and to need plenty of bug spray

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Reading the reviews from others and the communication from Pod was very reassuring"

Isla, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

“I loved my time at the Elephant and wildlife centre in Thailand! It was the best experience I have ever had in my life and recommend it to anyone who is considering it. I went as a 17 year old with a friend for 3 weeks. At first it was a bit daunting as all the information was very overwhelming but I quickly settled in. I loved the animals and the team spirit at the centre was so good. I met some amazing likeminded people there that I hope I remain friends with for a really long time. I also hope to return as soon as I can! I enjoyed my time on wildlife and elephants just as much but they are quite different. On wildlife (which I did for 2 weeks) it is very hard work as there are a lot of animals to care for depending which team you are on so don't expect it to be easy. However the team spirit made it really enjoyable.

Working with the elephants was slightly less work than wildlife and was so nice because I felt I got something back from the elephants. They are such incredible animals, it was amazing to work with them!

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing how the animals benefitted from your work especially the elephants as their backgrounds were so terrible it felt good to be giving them something and putting them first.

What did you find most challenging?
The only thing I found challenging was dealing with the change in my surroundings and the heat on my first few days but it wasn't long until I didn't ever want to leave!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Do it! And don't worry too much about it, it's an amazing experience you will not regret! But bring mozzie bite cream!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
They offered me help and advice throughout the whole process and answered any questions I had.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Emma, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2016

“The centre was amazing and I met some brilliant people there which made the experience far more enjoyable! Feeding and cleaning out the wildlife was very fulfilling as well but not as fun as watching the animals play with their enrichments which we had made by hand!

As for my time with elephants I would not have changed it for the world it was amazing! You form a bond with them and that makes the work you do with/ for them feel more valuable. Overall my experience was brilliant and even the tough jobs like harvesting the banana trees was made a lot easier with the amazing team atmosphere the centre has and the job turned out to be a lot of fun!

Pod was very helpful throughout the process of planning and booking our stay as well as giving us support when there. The amount of contact they had with us made the experience and preparation time far better.

What did you find most rewarding?
The work with the elephants as after my three weeks of volunteering we saw some elephant camps while visiting the temples and it made me realise the amazing things the centre is doing for them.

What did you find most challenging?
The first few days of settling in was quite hard with the heat and humidity.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
To socialise a lot and put yourself out there as the experience is made an awful lot better when you've made friends out there.”

Holly, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2015

"One of the best experiences of my life! I worked six weeks at the centre, three on each program; I can highly recommend doing both to gain a fuller experience! I found each challenge, be it physical or mental, was outweighed by an even greater reward. The centre is not only a place where I was given the incredible opportunity to observe, care for and learn about the most amazing animals but also a place where I made lifelong friends. I was quite apprehensive to come alone, but after my experience I can highly recommend it. The experience as a whole has given me an inner confidence I never knew I had and (such a cliché but) has helped me grow in so many ways.

My top recommendation is to read through the Volunteering Guide thoroughly to avoid going there with false expectations. Be prepared to work long and hard days (especially on the wildlife program), sweat a lot and find yourself dirtier than you ever have been.

But overall, I would highly recommend the program to anyone considering becoming involved!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Read through the manual. Don't go there with expectations that it will be easy or you'll be cuddling animals. Remain open minded and be ready for anything.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To gain an understanding of the world that goes deeper than just seeing sites"

Yuma, Wildlife Rescue - 2015

“I thoroughly enjoyed my placement in Thailand as I got to see a variety of animals and their different behaviours, some acquired and some innate. Within the 2 weeks of volunteering I have increased my knowledge of the animals I worked with and was astonished by how little I know! Even though it was hard work at times, I believe my time at centre was an invaluable experience. Also, I have met some amazing people whom I will remain in contact with.

Finally I would definitely recommend this project to anyone who is genuinely interested in animals and even their behaviour.

What was a typical day at the Wildlife Rescue project? Get up early; work; breakfast; work (with some breaks in between depending on your department); lunch; work (with some more breaks); dinner; personal time such as going to the night market, just sleeping in, etc.

What did you find most rewarding? Realising that some of the animals will be released back into the wild and some (like the elephants) can now "retire" without being abused.

What did you find most challenging? Flies and mosquitoes.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Just be aware of the work load

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Explore cultures and meet people from around the world.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Because it is non profit and ethical.”

Natasha, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2015

"The centre exceeded all my expectations. As a hotel queen I adapted well to non-flush toilets, no sink and brushing my teeth over the toilet, but the weather and the animals made it all worthwhile. The most useful things I brought was my mini Tempur pillow, a flat sheet (as it was too hot to use the blanket quilt provides) and my gardening gloves for the composting and harvesting. Its funny coming home and telling others that I was picking up Elephant poo with my hands (gloves on of course) and a friendly geko in my room to eat to mosquitoes. I would certainly recommend the 100% deet insect repellent from Go Outdoors, I only got 3 bites in my whole 3 weeks and this was my fault for going outside forgetting to apply. The worst part was the red ants, god they bite, but you just get on with it. Oh and don't forget your flip flops, I only wore trainers for harvesting, else it was sandals and flip-flops.

What was a typical day at the Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project?
Alarm goes off at 5.45am, it’s still dark, but by the time I’m up, dressed, creamed up with factor 40 and bug sprayed, cleaned my teeth and out the door it is daylight, beautiful early morning sunshine and so warm its delightful.

A quick cuppa in the Volunteer House at 6.15am before starting the job in your designated teams at 6.30am. For wildlife we spent 1 hour preparing food - a production line chopping fruit and vegetables, the food quality was amazing. For elephants we made banana balls for their breakfast, feed them, cleaned there enclosure and then went for breakfast. There were eggs, bread and fruit available everyday - the bananas were so amazing.

At 9am we start again, preparing food, feeding, cleaning enclosures, cleaning pools (bears and peacocks), this was hands and knees scrubbing. Lots of breaks in-between so you can mooch and see the animals.

At 12noon we have lunch (Thai Chicken and Rice)

At 1pm the food preparation starts again, feeding, watering, cleaning and showering the elephants.

At 5pm most teams have finished for the day, then a walk to the village to connect to Wi-Fi or get a cold pop or some munchies.

At 6.30pm we had dinner - Thai Chicken and Rice.

Then it was free time to do whatever you want, go to town or just hang out.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take conservative clothes to respect the culture, old T-shirts, flip flops, be prepared to work hard, there is a lot of bending down, carrying watering cans etc."

Roz, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2015

"Volunteering for the Elephant & Wildlife centre was a first for me. I had never done anything like this before or travelled abroad alone. From my first e-mail to Pod I was looked after very well, the reply to my application and confirmation that I had a place came through quickly. The information was comprehensive & concise and I had complete confidence that my trip was going to go well.

I had the most wonderful time away, the centre is a mad & chaotic place but I loved it. There are the routine jobs that have to be done every day to ensure the well being of the animals but there is also plenty of time to wander around the centre & observe your favourites.

The noise level is staggering, with Gibbons, Otters, Parrots, Elephants, dogs, Macaques etc., all sharing their unique sounds. To wake up every day to this was an absolute joy and I miss it very much.

I had the most wonderful time in Thailand, I learnt a huge amount about the animals I was working with & about myself. There were surprises, frustrations, tears, warm fuzzy feelings and a huge amount of laughter and I would do it all again without hesitation!

Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Lauren, Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue - 2015

"Everything was great overall as a whole! I will definitely be working with Pod again in the future, great experience and great opportunities. Thank you so much for helping every step of the way!

Everything was well run and there was always someone there if you had any problems (which I did not, but comforting all the same)."

Find out more about the Wildlife Rescue project

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