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Zimbabwe - African Wildlife Orphanage

Volunteer at one of the largest and most successful wildlife rehabilitation and release centers in Africa! Volunteers on this project work with a range of animals, anything from monkeys to lions. Experience beautiful Zimbabwe while making a positive impact on the delicate African ecosystem.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectBulawayo, Zimbabwe
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Arrival AirportBulawayo Airport
Volunteer WorkHandling the animals, preparing animals' food, cleaning out enclosures, promoting environmental education
Number of Participants2-15 international volunteers
Age17 - 80
Age Exceptions This project accepts volunteers who are 17 years old and younger with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.
Family Options This project accepts families with children as young as 12 years old.

What's Included

AccommodationIncludes housing in cabins
Food3 meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded to and from Bulawayo Airport
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, entry visa (between $50 - $100 USD depending on nationality), levy of $30 USD upon departure from Zimbabwe


Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe and home to more than 650,000 people. This city is considered the business and industrial capital of the country.  The wildlife orphanage is located about half an hour away from the city and set on a beautiful, family-owned piece of property.  Nearby lays the Matopo National Park which has the highest concentration of leopards of all national parks and Victoria Falls.



About the Project

The orphanage is a haven for animals that have little hope for survival in the wild; these are creatures which have been orphaned, abandoned, injured, born in captivity or brought up unsuccessfully as pets. Additionally, it is home to an increasing number of animals that have been confiscated from illegal wildlife traffickers.  The orphanage has been featured in countless documentaries and is now world renowned for its pioneering work and is famed as one of Africa's largest and most successful wildlife rehabilitation/release centers.
The wildlife orphanage was established in 1973 by an ex-game ranger and is run by him and his family. The wildlife orphanage is not a zoo. Wherever possible, rescued animals and birds are rehabilitated and returned to the wild. If safe release into their natural habitat is not possible, animals are cared for and kept for educational purposes and zoological study. In the case of endangered species, captive breeding programs may also be undertaken.
The five primary goals of the orphanage are as follows:
1. Wildlife Orphanage/ Animal Rehabilitation Centre: to provide a service  to rescue and care for injured wildlife, thereby providing a home for the many injured, sick, orphaned, abused, confiscated or abandoned wild animals from anywhere in Zimbabwe.

2. Education: to educate the Zimbabwe public, especially young children, with the aid of live viewing of many species not easily seen in the wild. Provide relevant lectures, film and slide shows for visiting groups. Thus, providing a local resource center for children to appreciate the important value of Zimbabwe's natural heritage.

3. Nature Conservation: to teach people and especially children, to appreciate the wonder and variety of indigenous wildlife and not to take it for granted; that these animals or their environment will not always be there for their enjoyment without the correct management of our natural resources.

4. Research: to observe and record useful zoological information on captive animals such as body growth and development, nutrition, dentition and gestation periods. Relevant research and field surveys are undertaken in the wild, under natural conditions in National Parks and protected areas.

5. Cooperation: To provide a link between local and governmental authorities thus being able to offer assistance to organizations like SPCA, National Parks, schools, and private individuals wherever problem animals are concerned. 


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Upon arrival, volunteers will be met by a staff member who will take them to the orphanage. No experience is needed to work with the animals as all the training will be provided. All we ask is that volunteers are enthusiastic and dedicated to working with animals. During the first week, volunteers will be getting to know how the orphanage runs. During this orientation period, volunteers will work with different staff members to get an introduction to working with the carnivores, primates, birds of prey, snakes and domestic animals. The main duties can include:

  • Preparing food for the animals (keeping in mind the different diets of the various animals, including meat preparation) 
  • Feeding the animals
  • Cleaning out enclosures
  • Contributing enrichment ideas for the animals
  • Assisting staff with educational outreach at local schools
  • Helping to build and maintain enclosures
  • Giving tours and educating the public
  • Hand rearing orphans (comfort them when they cry, feed them when they become hungry, and generally just play with baby animals. However, this can also be very tiring as they may need feeding during the night or just need a cuddle when they get scared.) 
  • Special projects 

Schedule: Volunteers are expected to work 6 days a week, with Mondays off. Volunteers will work 8 hours a day (8:00 to 16:00) but will always be on call during fire season and when we have babies in. Baby shifts will be shared between the volunteers as we would not expect them to be awake with them all night.


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: volunteers will be provided with cabins (2 people per cabin). The rooms are equipped with a comfortable bed, mosquito nets, 2 shelves, wardrobe, bed side table, and electricity. Additionally, volunteers will be provided with clean sheets, blankets, and a swimming towel. The site has hot water showers, flushing toilets, braai (BBQ) area, kitchen, and a swimming pool available for volunteers. At the main house there are comfortable sofas and a TV. There is also a lounge especially for volunteers containing a DVD player, bar, and library. 

Food: 3 meals served a day. Most meals include meat dishes but vegetarian meals can be supplied (however vegan diets cannot be accommodated). Dinner is usually eaten with the owners and their family.  Tea, coffee, and cold water are available all day. If the volunteers wish to cook for themselves or have a braai (BBQ) they are more than welcome.
* At the moment the project team cannot accommodate volunteers with a vegan or gluten-free diet.

Laundry Services: laundry is done for you twice a week and freshly ironed by the staff. 

Internet: internet is available in the main house and costs $20 for 500 megabytes. Bring your own computer if you wish to access the Internet.


Travel Highlights

Volunteers often travel before, during, or after their volunteer placement. Some places you may want to check out include: 

Harare: Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and is full of history and culture. It is the perfect place to learn about Zimbabwe's past struggles and triumphs. 

Victoria Falls: the options here are extensive. Go bungee jumping off the bridge at Victoria falls or white water rafting on the mighty Zambezi river. Take a leisurely walk around the Victoria Falls National Park to see "the smoke that thunders" one of the wonders of the world. To finish off the day, go on a nice relaxing sunset cruise and witness the animals bathing in the river.

Hwange National Park: if it's the wild life they are after, we have many different game parks to choose from. Hwange National Park is the biggest and is said to be the best, covering 14,600 square kilometers and has the largest number of animals in any national park in Zimbabwe. Volunteers will have the chance to see elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, crocs, leopards, rhinos and many more, plus over 400 types of birds.

Lake Kariba: Lake Kariba is the world's largest artificial lake or reservoir at a massive 220 kilometers long and up to 40 wide. It is very popular with the tourists who enjoy using the lake as a mini cruise. Volunteers can rent a house boat or use the ferry to get from Binga to Kariba. Is it a good place for fishing but also for wildlife watching as the animals come to the edges to drink. It is not advised to swim though as it now has a population of Nile crocodiles and hippos.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins: The Great Zimbabwe ruins are an ancient village built of stones on a hill top. This is where the name of the country was derived from, Dzimba dzemabwe (houses of stones). 


Minimum requirements

  • Good Level of English
  • Motivation to work with animals 
  • Vaccinations, please consult doctor before departure
  • Flexible attitude and hard-working

Here's an excerpt of Nicole's experience:


"Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage gave me everything I wanted out of this experience. It’s a haven for all animals and it truly deserves to be applauded. The amount of work they do to help animals in need is extraordinary. No animal was ever turned down, no appointments had to be made, it was as simple as just dropping them off. I’ve seen anywhere from a plover to a steenbok to an owl to a snake come through the doors of Chipangali."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Pauldeep's experience:


"I dug a pond for the lions and prepared food for all the carnivores. I loved feeding the servals, especially since they were very friendly and gave plenty of kisses. I witnessed two lamb births and got to spend lots of time with the newborn lambs. I would go into the enclosure every night to kiss them goodnight."

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Melissa's experience:


"One of the main tasks for the volunteers, and the most exhausting, was taking care of Cupid, the 12 week old baby Vervet monkey. Holding a baby monkey in my arms was a surreal experience, one that I had dreamed of for a long time. Cupid had more energy than anything I had ever seen before. He was very much your typical monkey."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Kathie's experience:


"The part I didn’t expect was the awesome friendships we made with other volunteers from all over the world. Every night we would sit around the campfire and play games from our home countries or tell stories. It was truly outstanding and I would do this trip again in a heartbeat!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Michele's experience:


"The African Wildlife Orphanage’s main goal is to care for orphaned or injured animals until they are able to be released back into the wild. If that’s not a viable option, they’re lovingly cared for the rest of their lives. These animals are also used for educating young local children about the creatures that share their environment. Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, so many of the children living there have never had the opportunity to see or touch wild animals."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Erin's experience:


"I was also lucky enough to watch 5 hyena get darted, 2 of which received radio collars and were released back into the wild. They also received a pangolin that had been thought to be hit by a car in touch and was examined for any injuries and then released. The main duties for volunteers is caring for the babies 3 times a day and then any other random jobs that need to be done around the orphanage. They had several babies including 3 barn owls, a grey duiker, 3 pookies, a serval, and several tortoises."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Benita's experience:


"Another aspect I really enjoyed about volunteering at the Wildlife Orphanage was getting to learn more about the usually unseen wildlife, like nocturnal bushbabies. At the orphanage, there were three bushbabies being cared for by our hosts and we were able to play with them every night and prepare their food."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Maria's experience:


"After meeting the staff and my fellow volunteers, I realized that I was not alone in my love for animals...[in the morning] I was given an hour to interact with any animal I wanted. It was so much fun and I made sure to pick a new animal every day"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Chelsea's experience:

  "When we arrived at the African Wildlife Orphanage Nikki gave me a quick tour of the center so I could navigate it on my own.  After unpacking and meeting the other volunteers, I was told I could help with feeding some of the baby animals.  I was all for jumping right in and helping, after all it is what I was there for!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Carly's experience:


"Teak, the 3 month old Bushbuck, was a particular favourite of mine. I especially enjoyed it when it was his ‘outdoors’ time, which was only possible when it was warm enough. He loved to run around and jump everywhere, either escaping or chasing after imaginary friends. It was really wonderful to see!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Elie's experience:


"I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Trish's experience:

  "Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Winnie's experience:

  "Going to africa was a lifelong dream of mine.  The experience was worth all the long flights and excruciatingly painful layovers in the world.  Upon arrival at my destination, I was greeted by 2 lion cubs at the orphanage.  There was a 5 month old male & a 20 month old female.  It was such a magical encounter.  To be able to interact with a wild animal like that freely (especially the huge lioness) left me in such awe, I’ll never forget how it felt."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!I 




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