Animal Safety and Well-being while Volunteering
Projects Abroad believes that volunteering and tourism can have a positive impact on animals and wildlife conservation. We are committed to ensuring that all our international projects are thoroughly vetted and researched to guarantee that they are not connected to animal cruelty in any form. We actively encourage our volunteers to have an animal-friendly experience when volunteering abroad and to be aware of the potential negative effects of tourist activities involving animals.
We have partnered with several leading international animal welfare organizations - Animal Defenders International (ADI), FOUR PAWS, and World Animal Protection - to promote the protection and welfare of animals at our projects and in the countries where we work. All our projects meet our own high internal standards and the equally stringent requirements of these organizations.
Our animal welfare policy speaks specifically to the treatment of wildlife, but we also apply the fundamentals of these policies - the humane treatment of all animals and their right to a dignified existence - to domestic animals and livestock.
Our Animal Welfare Principles
We believe that:
Animals belong in their natural environment. Any animal should live in its natural environment, wherever possible. If this is not possible, they should be placed in a safe environment with conditions as close to their natural environment as possible.
Animals should not be harmed. Animals should be treated with care and treated humanely. They should be handled only with training and expert guidance.
Animals should be treated with dignity and respect. A wild animal does not exist for entertainment. Animals should be viewed and experienced in their natural habitat, on their terms. Animals should not be made to perform demeaning acts or tasks for the entertainment of people.
Animal care and wildlife protection is a long-term commitment. Any involvement in the care and protection of animals and wildlife is a long-term commitment, and should not be taken lightly. Long-term plans and arrangements for the release of animals into their natural environment, or their long-term care in a safe habitat or enclosure, are essential.
Everyone has a role to play. Protecting animals and wildlife from exploitation is not only the responsibility of a few people, or something to think about only when traveling or volunteering. Everyone has a role to play, both when traveling and at home.
Our Animal Welfare Principles guide all our international projects. We make sure that:
- There is a clear long-term purpose for all our projects, with the long-term effects on animals and wildlife taken into consideration. What our volunteers do matters and we follow-up on our results and development.
- There is a clear procedure when to deal with animals and how to do so. We emphasize that you as a volunteer learn about the animals you are helping.
- We collaborate closely and have written agreements with all of our placements worldwide to ensure the safety and security of animals and volunteers.
- We do not endorse any activities or organizations that harm animals or wildlife, and we do not direct volunteers to such activities or organizations, even during their free time.
Our Expectations of Volunteers
We expect all our volunteers, not only those working on Animal Care or Conservation Projects, to support the correct treatment of animals and wildlife, and to uphold our Animal Welfare Principles.
We encourage volunteers on any of our projects to avoid visiting any organizations or businesses that exploit or harm animals, and to inform our local employees if they experience or suspect such treatment.
Our Advice to All Travelers
Some experiences with animals may appear innocent on the surface but have a cruel explanation. A chance to pet a tiger may mean the animal has been sedated or has had its teeth removed. Riding an elephant is only possible if the animal has been taken from the wild at a young age and broken-in to accept a rider.
In line with the recommendations of our partners, we encourage all travelers to:
- Think critically before visiting or volunteering with an organization that claims to be involved with animal care or conservation.
- Remember that wild animals belong in the wild and should only be viewed in their natural habitat, accredited sanctuary, or rehabilitation facility.
- Not pay to have a photo taken with a wild animal.
- Not pay to have a close encounter with a wild animal. This includes elephant-back riding, swimming with dolphins, or petting of big cats such as lions.
- Avoid events that promote animal cruelty such as bull fighting, cock fighting, or circuses that include wild animals.
- Never buy animal-related souvenirs or take anything from the wild, including teeth, fur, and animal parts.