The sanctuary is home to over 500 animals of all species and sizes, and each of these animals needs to be fed! You will help to prepare a range of meals every day, in the correct portions and with the right nutrition for each respective animal. You will also help to distribute the food, making this a great opportunity to get up close to some of Asia’s most amazing species, such as elephants, monkeys, bears and pangolins!
To help increase the chance of release, the team have implemented an enrichment schedule which will see you creating puzzles and tasks for the animals, with each enrichment item designed to stimulate their minds and bodies and equip them with the skills they would need in the wild. Enrichment also helps to alleviate the animals’ boredom, which in turn can reduce their stress levels whilst at the sanctuary.
The wildlife sanctuary is ever-expanding, which means new areas are being developed alongside older areas which are in need of repair. You will help the project team work through their construction schedule by helping to build or improve enclosures for the animals, and you may also assist in the construction of other structures such as climbing towers, shelters, and even swimming pools for the animals to use throughout their rehabilitation.
In addition to creating new suitable homes for the animals, you will also assist with the maintenance of the existing enclosures. Providing the sanctuary’s animals with a comfortable, clean place to eat and sleep is a top priority for the sanctuary team, and all volunteers play their part in keeping these areas habitable for the animal residents.
When the working day is done, you are free to relax at the volunteer house. You may wish to socialise with the rest of your group over a board game or take a little alone time to read a book in the comfort of your room. On days off, you can take the opportunity to visit some of the local shops, markets or bars and on occasion, the team may organise a trip to a nearby resort which has a pool and restaurant onsite.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at Vientiane International Airport, you will be collected and transferred to the project site (approximately 2 hours away). Once you have reached the sanctuary, you will be shown to your room to settle in before being taken on an orientation tour of the grounds to learn more about the facilities and resident animals.
Day 2 - 13 - Project Days:
These are your project days, which typically run from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Each morning will begin with a briefing to discuss the day’s schedule, which will include some time to feed the animals and clean their enclosures. The remainder of your day will consist of construction activities or special projects, such as enrichment, and you will enjoy a 45-minute lunch break in the afternoon. Sundays are elected as days off, and you are free to spend this time as you wish!
Day 14 - Final Day:
Today is your final day at the project, so after saying goodbye to your fellow volunteers, the staff and the animals at the sanctuary, you will be transferred back to Vientiane International Airport in time for your return flight home, or to continue with your onward travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
The Laos Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 2015 after a new management team came in to redevelop and repurpose the struggling Laos Zoo. As the original zoo team had failed to provide the correct nutrition, stimulation or even living facilities for their residents, a great amount of work was needed from the start.
Since then, great progress has been made and the quality of life for the sanctuary’s animals has improved significantly. Further efforts, however, are still required and so schedules have been created to tackle some of the project’s most important tasks in a timely manner. One of the most important schedules focuses entirely on construction, and the project aims to build or improve the homes for all the animals at the sanctuary in the coming years. This is especially important as animals can arrive at any time and they must have a safe and comfortable place to go.
Additional future plans include improving conservation efforts beyond the sanctuary by creating a large education centre. Here, an outreach programme will be created to teach local children about the importance of wildlife, therefore helping to tackle issues such as the illegal wildlife trade and keeping endangered animals as pets.
Finally, the project team are working to build a strong relationship with the local government. Their aim is for the sanctuary and its mobile rescue unit to become a vital partner of the country’s law enforcement teams, which in turn will give greater power to the sanctuary team in their quest to protect Laos’s wildlife. The team have also been approached to discuss new laws around wildlife conservation efforts, proving that they can be a valuable force in the fight against wildlife crime.
Even during a pandemic, the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary stands strong in their fight against illegal wildlife trafficking. In just a few short weeks, the incredible rescue team set out to rescue 3 monkeys all affected by the devastating pet trade. Find out more about each of these rescue missions in this blog.
Join us in celebrating a very special mother this Mother's Day as a critically endangered Chinese pangolin gives birth at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary!
With the launch of our brand-new project this week, we thought we would introduce just a few of the incredible species that were once rescued as a result of the illegal wildlife trade! Take a look to find out more about volunteering in Laos and to meet their charming residents!
Is this trip for you?
During your time on the project, you will stay in one of five bungalows located on-site. Each bungalow will be shared on a same-sex basis (with the exception of couples, friends or families), with two people allocated to each. All rooms come equipped with fans and electrical outlets, and fresh linens are provided. A laundry service is also available for a small fee. Away from the bungalows, there are shower blocks which are separated by gender and fitted with western toilets and both a hot and cold shower.
All meals and beverages are provided during your stay at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary. You will prepare your own breakfast using the items bought in for you by the sanctuary team (such as bread, eggs, cereal and milk), while lunch and dinner will be cooked for you. These meals usually consist of local cuisine, though occasionally Western food may be provided. Tea, coffee and water are available throughout the day.
As a large focus of this project revolves around construction and maintenance, we recommend that all volunteers taking part have a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills are required but we do ask that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with every activity, that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty and that you have a respect for the wildlife and sanctuary staff who you will be working alongside.
There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project and as such, the vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We, therefore, recommend that you consult your GP/Doctor regarding your own vaccination needs.
The sanctuary has a strict ‘No Contact Policy’ and anyone found touching any of the animals will be asked to leave immediately. This policy is in place so that the team can ease the integration of wildlife with their own species, facilitate future releases back to the wild, and ensure the safety of the staff and volunteers.
Unfortunately, most of the animals at the sanctuary have already had too much contact with humans as most are victims of the illegal wildlife trade. Due to this, some may look like they want attention, but it is important that you do not touch them. Animals appearing to give social interaction are NOT trying to be friendly and in the majority of cases, this behaviour is a sign of significant stress and submission. There is also a very real risk of disease transmission, some with obvious symptoms (if you have a cold or cough) and some without.
When is the best time to volunteer?
As this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, there are animals here year-round, which means there is no favourable time to volunteer regarding wildlife. That said, the weather may impact your decision on when to travel, and the seasons are explained in more detail below.
March to Mid-June: This period is considered the hot season, and you can expect temperatures of 28-36°C (82-97°F) and high humidity levels which reach approximately 75-90%.
June to October: This is considered the wet season, and though brief but heavy rain showers can be expected, temperatures are still high at 25-33°C (77-91°F).
November to February: The cool season is the driest season, with temperatures of around 18-30°C (64-86°F) during the day and dropping further below at night.
You will need to fly into Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane, where you’ll be met in the arrival’s hall between 9:30am-10:00am by a member of the project staff and transferred to the sanctuary. Transfers are only available between 9:30am-10:00am, to ensure that you arrive at the sanctuary in time for lunch, where you will meet the team and be given a tour around the project site.
As flights are limited, we strongly recommend booking a flight that arrives the day before your start date and spending the night in Vientiane. Your transfer to the sanctuary can then be arranged from your accommodation.
For your departure, you will need to book a flight from midday to allow enough time for your transfer and flight check-in.
To join this project, you will need a tourist visa and most nationalities are able to obtain a 30-day tourist visa on arrival into Laos. You must bring two passport-sized photos with you and pay US$35 dollars for this visa.
If you join the project for longer than 4 weeks or plan to be in Laos for more than 30 days, you can visit the immigration office in Vientiane and extend your tourist visa for an additional 2 weeks.
If, however, you plan to be in Laos for longer than 6 weeks, you will need to complete a ‘visa run’, which requires a crossing over the ‘Friendship Bridge’ between Laos and Thailand. You will receive a free Thai visa upon your arrival into Thailand and will be permitted to re-enter Laos with a new visa on the same day.
What's included in the price of the project?
- 3 meals a day
- Airport transfers
- A donation to the project
- An English speaking facilitator
What's not included in the price of the project?
- Travel insurance