Zimbabwe – Family-Friendly African Wildlife Orphanage

Animal-loving families will enjoy this authentic African experience at a family-run wildlife orphanage in Zimbabwe! Experience beautiful Zimbabwe while making a positive impact on the delicate African ecosystem.

Program Highlights:

  • Work directly with a local family
  • A family-friendly version of a GoEco Best 10 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2024
  • Volunteer in one of Africa’s largest and most successful wildlife rehabilitation/release centers
  • Provide care for injured wildlife and assist with releases when possible
  • Ethical wildlife interactions and volunteer tasks
  • Educate the Zimbabwe public, especially young children, with the aid of live viewing of many species not easily seen in the wild


Family Price Details:

  • The Total Project Cost is for one family member
  • Each additional family member will receive a discount of $50 USD off the Total Project Cost
  • One adult can supervise a maximum of three children under the age of 18


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.

Day 2, 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 per day. Participate in tasks such as:

  • feeding the animals
  • 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 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 morning and having Sunday afternoons and Mondays free. Departures are on a Sunday.


Program Accomplishments:
In 2018 alone, this program took in a rescued baby vervet monkey, educated local school children about animal conservation and different species and so much more. Volunteers and staff rescued a hyena from a drop trap, chipped him and released him. Volunteers rehabilitated 15 tortoises, many of which had been burnt in bush fires, and took in rescued pangolins for rehabilitation before their release into a protected area.


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:  Wildlife care and conservation

Age Age:  Families with children who are 12 years of age and older are welcome. Families with younger children may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 15 international volunteers


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Family cabin (subject to availability)

Food Food: Three meals per day are provided

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are included on both arrival and departure days

Orientation Orientation: All necessary training and introductions 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 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 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 wildlife orphanage is a haven for Zimbabwean 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 wildlife sanctuary was established in 1973 by a former game ranger, who now operates the sanctuary with 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 Center: to provide the service of rescuing and caring 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. To 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 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 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.


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


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 we have babies on-site. Baby shifts will be shared between the volunteers, as we would not expect you to be awake with them all night.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is not available, but the local team will help volunteers purchase a SIM card locally.

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

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Families may be placed in a private cabin, but this is subject to availability. The rooms of the cabin are equipped with comfortable beds, mosquito nets, 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 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 provided. Dinner is usually eaten together with the 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 vegan or gluten-free diets.



Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

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

Families can join add-on weekend excursions to travel destinations such as Victoria Falls for an additional fee.
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. 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 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. *Consider booking this at the end of your stay and departing from Victoria Falls International airport.

Hwange National Park: If it’s the wildlife you 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 with 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, including 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” means houses of stones.

Volunteer Experiences

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