Deirdre is holding out a piece of food for me as if I were a seal. She says she is getting into practice for feeding animals, because this is one of the things we might be doing next week as part of our volunteer duties.
We will be taking part in the activities of two animal welfare initiatives. First up will be the Erawan Elephant Retirement Park, a project of the Save Elephant Foundation. A few days later we will be joining the Safari Park Volunteer Initiative.
I’m so looking forward to next week, getting more excited with each word I type. Deirdre has a bit more trepidation in her soul as I have spent the past few weeks teasing her into thinking she will be spending all her time with a shovel round the back of an elephant or a giraffe, sweeping up its droppings.
We will be writing longer posts on our experiences once we have completed our volunteer duties – and also promoting both projects in our Jobs Abroad Bulletin – but until then here is a little information for anyone who would like to take part in either, or both, volunteer programmes:
Erawan Elephant Retirement Park
A couple of days ago we unexpectedly drove past the Save Elephant Foundation’s Elephant Nature Park, near Chiang Mai, and were able to snatch a brief glimpse of the set up there. The Erawan Elephant Retirement Park is a much newer operation but is intended to operate on the same lines. The first five elephants only arrived last month.
Tourism elephants, rescued from trekking camps, street-begging or performance shows, are to be housed among the park’s 50 acres. Volunteers will plant and harvest crops for elephant food, clean up what comes out the other end (over to you Deirdre) and also get to enjoy bath time in the river and long walks with the elephants through the jungle.
Volunteering here costs 12,000 baht per week (Monday to Sunday). The fee covers all meals, accommodation (twin bed shared with attached bathroom) and accident insurance while on the project.
For more information visit: www.saveelephant.org/erawan_elephant_retirement_park.html.
Safari Park Volunteer Initiative
This project is independent of the Safari Park Open Zoo to which the volunteer organisers pay to stay and help improve the conditions of the animals, which include tigers, leopards, giraffes, deer, zebra and macaques.
Fit volunteers are needed to create enrichment activities for the animals using power tools and imagination, fix or design existing and new enclosures, and teach English to the local staff members. Some of the tigers and leopards are hand reared and used to human contact, while most of the giraffes, deer and zebra are happy to be hand-fed.
Volunteers contribute €140 per week towards their accommodation and food costs, with anything left over used for materials for enclosure upgrades, food for the animals and materials for projects. A discount of 25% is offered to those able to stay longer than a week.
For more information visit: www.safarivolunteer.com.