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Travel Tips / Voluntourism

Travel Tip: Volunteering with (Cute) Animals

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It’s time for my regular roundup of volunteer travel experiences, and this one you have to see to believe. I’m talking about volunteering with animals.

Quick, what’s the poster child for the World Wildlife Foundation? I’m talking about the giant panda.

The Dallas-based Institute for Field Research Expeditions has a program where you can travel to Chengdu and volunteer in a panda conservation project, with hands-on experiences and research duties.

In Cozumel, Mexico, there’s a very cool program called the Rancho Universo Equestrian and Horse Sanctuary, where they rehabilitate and train horses to work with local children for a form of equine therapy.

You’ll get involved with everything from feeding and grooming the horses to general maintenance, and, of course, you get to take these guys out for rides in the jungle.

Then there’s the one that everyone falls in love with: the koala. Earthwatch Expedition has a program in Australia’s Great Otway Park where you’ll research and observe their habitats.

And while there are some hands-on experiences, watch out. Those cuddly critters actually have deadly claws, so it’s only allowed with the trained experts.

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