Volunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo Kanchanaburi

Feeding baby lions, playing with leopards, learning macaws how to fly and hand feeding giraffes and monkeys… These are some of the awesome things you can expect to do when volunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo Kanchanaburi. I volunteered at the park for 1 week and had an amazing time! The park is located near the city of Kanchanaburi, some 2.5 hours from Bangkok, and can provide you with this unforgettable volunteer experience as well!

Safari Park Open Zoo

A Little Background Info..

In December 2012, a little over 2 years ago, Tat and Ned started the volunteer program. They first arrived at the park as tourists, but soon realized the park wasn’t anywhere near its full potential. Something had to change as outdated and unethical practices were still accepted and applied (as in many zoo’s in developing countries). After long negotiations with the owners, they moved into the park and soon needed help of more volunteers. The volunteer program was born! Ever since, they have been able to make big improvements for the animals in many different ways: regarding nutritious food, cleaner and better cages, better treatment, better healthcare, etc. It has not been an easy road and the zoo still has a long way to go to reach Western standards of proper animal care, so your help will be much appreciated!

Safari Park Open Zoo

Whats in the Safari Park Open Zoo?

The Safari Park Open Zoo is a zoo and safari park combined: animals in cages and wide animal enclosures where you can drive through with the safaribus or your own car. Animals you’ll encounter in the park are leopards, lions, tigers, giraffes, ostriches, zebra’s, elephants, crocodiles, deer, bears, macaws, monkeys, etc. Visitors can enjoy a ride on the safaribus, visit the animal enclosures, see some (controversial) animal shows, and feed some of the animals.

Life at the Zoo

Safari Park Open ZooVolunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo is an experience you’ll never forget. It is very rewarding and unique. Your alarm clock will ring at 7am, but you might already have been woken up by the roosters by then. You’ll try to find your way out of your mosquito net, get ready and grab some toast, yogurt or cereal in the kitchen. By 8am you’ll get on your moped and make your way over to the animals you’ll be taking care of that day: either birds, cubs or rescue. Rescue is a part of the zoo created by the volunteers. Animals with health issues are brought here and taken care off. First the cages need to be cleaned and after that the animals will need to be fed. You’ll prepare their food and make sure its a nutritious one. Every species has its own diet. After that you get the opportunity to feed them. Especially with the cubs (baby tigers, leopards, lions) this is an incredible experience! Lunch will be served, which you’ll probably eat away in seconds. The work is pretty intense, especially with high temperatures, so you’ll be hungry! The afternoon is usually spend on creating toys or enrichment for the animals. Use your imagination, drill and saw skills to create something that is fun, lion/monkey proof and safe. It’s good fun to see them trying it out once its done! By around 4 you’ll be pretty exhausted and if you want to, you can play with leopards in the cat garden before dinner. Dinner is served (4 days rice, 3 days spaghetti), and just like the animals, you’ll likely pass out soon after.

Additional Perks

Although it is already very unique to be around and get to take care of these animals for a couple of days (or longer), there are some more perks for volunteers. On Friday’s you’ll likely make your way into Kanchanaburi town for dinner and drinks. You get the opportunity to bathe the elephants in the river. And you get to go on the ‘Salapong tour’ – a behind the scenes tour with Salapong, one of the zoo keepers. He’ll take you into the safari to feed the deer, giraffes and zebras. Furthermore there are some tubing and zip lining opportunities, or nice rides on your moped in the surroundings of the zoo.

Safari Park Open Zoo

How will your (short) visit benefit the zoo?

Like I stated before: there is still lots to improve at the zoo. Not all the reviews on TripAdvisor are great, and some even advice to not go. Having seen what’s going on at the zoo first hand, I would argue and urge differently, especially since things have improved lots over the past 2 years. In order to be able to take care of the animals in a good way, more money is needed. Your visit -either as a visitor or volunteer- will provide this money and give the volunteers the opportunities to continue their hard work. If people would ban the zoo, the volunteer program and the animals are really doomed. It won’t be an effective incentive to the park to change things as they simply won’t be able to, as this requires money. So, please, come visit the Safari Park Open Zoo. As a visitor it will be a great day out when you’re in Thailand and as a volunteer you’ll get an amazing experience.

As a volunteer, your stay obviously doesn’t only help in a financial way – you’re actually there to make a difference! Sure, as a 3 day volunteer you’ll make less of a difference than as a 3 months volunteer, but still. Those 3 days the animals will get a little extra attention, the longer term volunteers can take it a little easier and focus on more long term or enrichment activities instead of just feeding cleaning and feeding their animals day in day out. So, regardless of how little your contribution is, the animals will appreciate it!

Safari Park Open Zoo

How Long and How Much?

You can volunteer at the park from 3 days on, but also stay for 3 months or 3 years. It’s up to you really! If you stay for 4 weeks or longer, you will likely get to be responsible for a section of the animals, like birds or cubs and supervise short-term volunteers. The minimum age is 21. Concerning costs, the table below outlines the current fee. 30% will be spend on your food and stay etc, and 70% will go directly to the animals. The costs don’t include things like flights to Thailand, vaccinations, insurance etc. You’ll also need to rent a moped, which costs around 150 baht a day (€4).

3 days – 4500THB (approx. €120, $140)
5 days – 6000THB (approx. €160, $185)
1 week – 7000THB (approx. €185, $215)
2 weeks – 14000THB (approx. €370, $430)
3 weeks – 21000THB (approx. €555, $645)
4 weeks – 26600THB (approx. €700, $800)
6 weeks – 39900THB (approx. €1054, $1225)
8 weeks – 50400THB (approx. €1330, $1550)
12 weeks – 71400THB (approx.  €1885, $2195)

For more information about the program or to apply, make sure to check their website: http://www.safarivolunteer.com/

Safari Park Open Zoo

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6 Responses to Volunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo Kanchanaburi

  1. Jess says:

    Hey! Fantastic read! I’ve applied to volunteer here on July, was just wondering how long until you heard back after your application? I’m just super eager haha!

    Again, great read and I’m even more excited now!

    • Flying Dutchgirl says:

      Ah great! You’ll have a blast! Uhm it took a while. They’re not in the office frequently, mostly out with the animals. Just drop them another email, thats what I did :p

  2. Sian says:

    A Great Read!
    I’m looking in to doing a 3 day volunteer but it’s really short notice as in i’m going to thailand in just over 2 weeks. Do you think it would be possible to do within such a short time frame? It sounds like an amazing experience!

  3. Alison says:

    Are the animals that visitors get to play with sedated?

    Also I was wondering what the volunteer accommodation is like, do you get snakes or gigantic jungle insects? haha.
    Also, do you have to wash dogs at the end of every day (the website briefly mentions it).

    • Flying Dutchgirl says:

      They’re not sedated, you’ll definitely be able to tell by the energy of the cubs haha. Blue is the big lion who is unfortunately chained to a table for tourist to take pictures with, and he looks very lazy/sedated. He’s not though. This is just how he was unfortunately raised and isn’t used to anything but laying on the table since he was young. The volunteers are still trying really hard to stop this practise. They were successful with I think 4 other lions in the past, so its getting better.

      The accomodation is very basic, and giant jungle insect may be around (small gecko’s on the walls are common visitors in the rooms). Snakes have been spotted outside, but I haven’t heard of any being in the accomodation. If you don’t like getting dirty and get annoyed by a fly, this may however not really be the place to go.

      I haven’t washed a single dog during my week there and haven’t heard of this practice haha

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