Zimbabwe – African Wildlife Orphanage

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
  • Conduct field surveys in the nearby National Parks and protected areas
  • Assist in local wildlife education initiatives


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 typically have Sunday afternoon and Monday off to rest, explore and enjoy your Zimbabwean experience.

Days 3-7: Tuesday-Saturday: You can expect to volunteer about seven hours a day. 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).

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 Tour! Beginning January 17th, 2024, all new applicants for 3 weeks will have included in their program a captivating Rhino Conservation Walking Safari tour 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.


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: Family option: this project accepts families with children as young as 12 years old.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Includes 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), travel health insurance, personal expenses. *You will need a double-entry visa if you plan to visit Zambia.

Bulawayo is Zimbabwe’s second largest city 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 30 minutes from the city and set on a beautiful, family-owned property. Nearby lays the Matopo National Park, which has the highest concentration of leopards of all national parks, including Victoria Falls.

​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.

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.
  • 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 not available, but the local team will help volunteers purchase a SIM card locally.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry is washed and freshly ironed by the staff twice per week.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in two-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 swimming pool, available for volunteers to use during the summer months. 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 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: At the moment, 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

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

  • Matopos Rhino Walk: You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see white rhinos in this beautiful national park.
  • 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. 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.
  • Hwange National 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: 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.
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins: 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.

Volunteer Experiences

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