Zimbabwe – African Wildlife Orphanage

Free 3rd Week Grant – Get the 3rd week free when you sign up for two weeks or more. Limited grants available for start dates between August 2024 and September 22nd, 2024. Schedule a call to apply.


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


Program Highlights:

  • A GoEco Best 10 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2024
  • Provide care for injured wildlife that cannot be released into the wild and assist with releases whenever possible
  • Volunteer in one of Africa’s largest and most successful wildlife rehabilitation/release centers
  • Work alongside professionals at this world-renowned center
  • Ethical wildlife interactions and volunteer tasks
  • Assist in local wildlife education initiatives
  • Learn about the vital rhino conservation efforts in the region
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to see Victoria Falls, a wonder of the world!


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment): 

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Bulawayo Airport (BUQ). You will be picked up by the local team and taken to your accommodation in Bulawayo. If you arrive on an early flight, you will be taken on a tour of the Orphanage after settling in, otherwise you will have the opportunity to rest and then meet the rest of the crew at dinner.

Days 1-2, Sunday-Monday: You will generally have Sundays off in the afternoon and all day Monday to rest, enjoy, and immerse yourself in your experience in Zimbabwe. Every Monday, there is a scheduled trip to Bulawayo, providing an excellent chance for newcomers to buy essentials from local stores and acquire a local SIM card. This trip also offers volunteers the opportunity to do personal shopping for any additional items they might want for their leisure time in the evenings at the sanctuary. Additionally, upon request, volunteers can visit Bulawayo’s Natural History Museum. This museum is noteworthy not only for its unique history but also because the sanctuary’s founder served as its director for several years before establishing the sanctuary.

Days 3-7: Tuesday-Saturday: You can expect to volunteer about seven hours a day, 6 days a week. Participate in such tasks as feeding the animals and cleaning their enclosures in the morning, spending quality ‘Animal Time’ getting to know the birds and animals before lunch, and resuming daily duties in the afternoon. Please note that you will always be on call during fire season and when babies are on-site. Baby shifts will be shared among the volunteers (you will not be expected to stay up all night with the babies). Throughout the weeks educational hikes and excursions to national parks in the area are often organized depending on the needs of the program. Note that even during days off volunteers are responsible for ensuring the babies and/or sick animals in the designated nursery are feed and receive fresh water.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Tuesday-Sunday mornings and having Sunday afternoons and Mondays free. Departures are on a Sunday.

Stay for three weeks for the Rhino Conservation Excursion! Beginning January 17th, 2024, all new applicants for 3 weeks will have included in their program a captivating Rhino Conservation Walking Safari in the Matobos National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the vital issues surrounding the endangered White and Black Rhino species in Africa during a dedicated day of education. This must-see conservation tour offers valuable insights, with only about 600 black rhinos and 400 white rhinos left in Zimbabwe. Learn about the challenges these magnificent creatures face and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of protecting these iconic species in the region.

IMPORTANT NOTE: for those who apply within the 3rd week free grant time frame, the program week is free and the Rhino Tour can be added on for $125 with GoEco.


Check out what our past volunteers had to say!



Location icon Location of the Project: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Bulawayo Airport (BUQ)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Handling the animals, preparing animals’ food, cleaning out enclosures, promoting environmental education.

Age Age:  18-80. Age Exceptions: this project accepts volunteers who are 17 years old with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: 2-15 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: If you’re interested in veterinary work in the wildlife field, learn about and apply for the Pre-Vet Wildlife focused program here:  Pre-Vet African Wildlife Orphanage



What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Includes shared single-gender housing in cabins

Food Food: Three meals per day are provided

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport pickup and airport drop off is included included

Orientation Orientation: All necessary training and introductions are provided upon arrival

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, entry visa (between $50-$100 USD depending on nationality), expenses for the optional Victoria Falls Trip, travel health insurance, personal expenses. *You will need a double-entry visa if you plan to visit Zambia. Note for those staying 2 weeks the Rhino Conservation Excursion is not included.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, thrives as a vital economic and cultural hub with a population exceeding 650,000. Esteemed as the industrial backbone of the nation, Bulawayo is not just the center for business but also a gateway to Zimbabwe’s rich natural heritage, including the Matopo National Park. This park, noted for its unparalleled leopard population, underscores Zimbabwe’s dedication to wildlife conservation. Furthermore, the city’s proximity to one of the world’s natural wonders, Victoria Falls, also known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “The Smoke That Thunders,” highlights its significance. The falls, straddling the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, offer a breathtaking spectacle of cascading waters and a unique ecosystem, drawing visitors globally to experience its majestic beauty and the surrounding rainforest’s diverse flora and fauna.

Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is celebrated not only for its geological and scenic splendor but also for the unique phenomena it presents, such as the moonbow, a lunar rainbow visible during the full moon. The falls’ vicinity is a haven for adventure enthusiasts, offering activities like bungee jumping and whitewater rafting, while its cultural significance to local communities adds a rich historical layer to its natural grandeur. This remarkable landmark, together with Bulawayo’s economic vibrancy and the natural beauty of Zimbabwe’s parks, showcases the country’s commitment to preserving its environmental and cultural heritage, making it a focal point for tourists seeking both adventure and insight into Zimbabwe’s diverse ecosystem and traditions.

​Celebrating more than 50 years of Wildlife Conservation, this 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.

This project was established in 1973 by a former game ranger and is family-run. 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 Center: 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. Rehabilitation and release are a core aspect of the center whenever possible.
  • Education: to educate the Zimbabwean 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 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 such as SPCA, National Parks, schools and private individuals wherever problem animals are concerned.


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 relevant 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 overview of working with the carnivores, primates, birds of prey, snakes and domestic animals on-site.


Some of your tasks may 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 build and maintain enclosures
  • Giving tours and educating the public
  • Hand-rearing orphans (Comforting them when they cry, feeding them when they become hungry and generally just playing 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 as needed


Please note that volunteer tasks depend on the current needs of the community and the wildlife and also upon the volunteers’ length of stay. Volunteers may only participate in some or all of the tasks.

Typical Schedule: Volunteers are expected to work six days per week, with Mondays off. Volunteers will work eight hours per day (8:00 AM to 4:00 PM) but will always be on call during fire season and when there are babies on-site. Baby shifts will be shared between the volunteers, as we would not expect you to be awake with them all night.


2021 Achievements: Throughout 2020 the orphanage stayed open and functioned throughout COVID. We assisted the local communities with the capture and relocation of several animals. This included a brown hyena, leopard several snakes, genets, civets, and white-tailed mongoose

We successfully released:

  • 25 tortoises,
  • 5 genets,
  • 9 vervet monkeys,
  • 1 brown hyena,
  • 1 leopard,
  • 3 hedgehogs,
  • 1 black sparrow hawk and 2 pythons.


With the help of volunteers, we completely renovated our kudu enclosure.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is available on site for a small fee. GoEco volunteers receive one free voucher of 10 GB and further wifi may be purchased for a $15 voucher. The local team will help also volunteers purchase a SIM card locally.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry is washed and freshly ironed by the staff twice per week. Delicates and undergarments are washed by hand personally by volunteers and hung to dry, supplies are provided.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in two to six person cabins. The rooms are equipped with a comfortable bed, mosquito nets, shelves, wardrobe, bedside 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 small swimming pool, available for volunteers to use during the summer months. There is an entertainment room designed for volunteer with comfortable sofas, games, a library, a pool table, a dart board, and a projector to watch movies.

Food icon Food: Three meals are provided per day. Most meals include meat dishes but vegetarian meals can be arranged. Dinner is usually eaten together with the team of volunteers and/or local family. Tea, coffee and cold water are available throughout the day. If the volunteers wish to cook for themselves or have a braai (BBQ) they are more than welcome.
*Note: Due to the remote location, the project team cannot accommodate volunteers with a strict vegan or gluten-free diet.

Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Good level of English
  • Motivation to work with animals
  • Vaccinations – please consult a doctor before departure
  • Flexible attitude and hard-working
  • Dietary Requirements: At the moment, the project team cannot accommodate volunteers with a strict vegan or gluten-free diet
  • Victoria Falls – Guided Trip with the program (2 week minimum): All volunteers staying 2 weeks or more will have the option wot visit this wonder of the world together with the group. The tour options here are extensive. Bungee jump off the bridge at Victoria Falls or go white water rafting on the mighty Zambezi River. Take a leisurely walk around Victoria Falls National Park to see “the smoke that thunders,” one of the natural wonders of the world. To finish off the day, go on a nice, relaxing sunset cruise and witness the animals bathing in the river. Payments for Victoria Falls are made locally in-country.
  • Matopos Rhino Conservation Excursion – Guided Trip with the program (3 week minimum): You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see white rhinos in this beautiful national park. Explore the vital issues surrounding the endangered White and Black Rhino species in Africa during a dedicated day of education. A minimum duration of 3 weeks is required to guarantee this tour. It’s included for all volunteers who have signed up for 3 weeks or longer beginning in January 2024. The Rhino excursion can be paid in advance to GoEco for $125 USD for anyone who wishes to guarantee the experience.
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins – Guided Trip with the program (4 week minimum): The Great Zimbabwe Ruins are an ancient village built of stones on a hilltop. Zimbabwe derives its name from the ruins; “dzimba dzemabwe” means houses of stones. This trip includes round trip private transfer with the group, game drives, an overnight stay in a national park, a guided tour through the ancient historical site.  Typically once a month the team plans a group trip to this destination for a weekend for about $150 all inclusive (paid locally in cash), so we recommend a duration of 4 weeks to guarantee an opportunity to join on this trip.
  • Hwange National Park: Independently from the program, volunteers can travel to this park. If it’s the wildlife you are after, Zimbabwe has 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 with the largest number of animals in any national park in Zimbabwe. Volunteers will have a chance to see elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, crocs, leopards, rhinos and many more, plus over 400 species of birds.
  • Lake Kariba: Independently from the program, volunteers can travel to this lake. Lake Kariba is the world’s largest artificial lake or reservoir, at a massive 220 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers wide. It is very popular with 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 viewing, 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.

Volunteer Experiences

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