From August 1, 2016 to August 15, 2016, I was fortunate to say I was a volunteer for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center project in Hoedspruit, South Africa. The location was absolutely beautiful. The surrounding area is filled with dry bush and trees but to the back of the center, the beautiful mountains stood and watched the rehab. There are fences that say “Warning: They Bite” and animals staring at you. When I stepped out of the van for the first time, I knew this was the trip of a life time.
While at the center, I was able to participate in a lot of different activities. I helped feed many kinds of animals including cheetahs, lions, honeybadgers, servals and guinea fowl, cleaned cages, pet animals, brush animals, and cuddled with animals. You learn that some of the animals are super playful while others will swoop down on you if they are unhappy.
In the end, there will be those special ones you fall in love with. For me it was a type of deer, a bird, a cat and a honeybadger. It is not the usual pairing of animals but that is what happens at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
I was able to also meet a lot of amazing people from volunteers to the actual staff. There are those who are going for veterinary school and those who are not. The vets will be able to assist in more things such as emergency procedures. However, those without the vet background like me will also be able to participate in a lot of amazing things such as flying a vulture to a glove or help with the ambassador training for the cheetah program.
I had an amazing time in South Africa and I would gladly return to the location at any time. I can honestly say my heart wishes I was still there and playing with all the amazing animals, even the stubborn ones. This is an experience of a lifetime and I encourage anyone who likes animals to try it out.