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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
What's not Included
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.
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
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Good Level of English
- Motivation to work with animals
- Vaccinations, please consult doctor before departure
- Flexible attitude and hard-working
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).