Best Animal Sanctuaries to Visit around the World
Are you passionate about wildlife conservation? Do you love a good excuse to travel? With so many depressing news stories about wildlife poaching we felt inspired to put together a list of some very worthwhile sanctuaries around the world.
These sanctuaries are doing amazing work in helping, protecting and caring for endangered, abused and injured animals all around the globe.
These places offer a safe haven for wildlife and are a lot more ethical than zoos, you will have your faith restored in humanity knowing these places exist and it will be a special experience visiting in person.
Sometimes you might need to make a booking in advance, please check the organisations website for more information. If you would like to do something more than just visiting for a day, some sanctuaries offer more hands on experiences where you can volunteer.
View our list of incredible sanctuaries making a real difference to the lives of wildlife in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa & Australasia below.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. They are dedicated to saving elephants, rhinos and other animals in Kenya.
- Web: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
- Address: Nairobi, Kenya
Mefou Primate Park, Cameroon
Ape Action Africa is an international charity committed to ape conservation, in Cameroon they protect wildlife through direct action including rescuing orphaned apes, gorillas and monkeys giving them a safe forest sanctuary home where they can live with their own kind. You can visit the Mefou Primate Park every day of the year and see the amazing work going on too. There are also volunteer placements with Ape Action Africa available too.
- Web: www.apeactionafrica.org/index
- Address: B.P 20072 Yaounde, Cameroon
Vervet Monkey Foundation, South Africa
Established in 1993 and located in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, the Vervet Monkey Foundation cares for over 700 monkeys. Many of the monkeys living here have been used for animal testing but once they arrived at the foundation they are rehabilitated and given a fresh life. This is a popular tourist attraction where you can see the monkeys up close and learn about conservation efforts. If you would like to do something rewarding you can become a monkey sanctuary volunteer or apply to be a baby monkey carer.
- Address: Plot 35 California, Tarentaalrand, Tzaneen 0850, South Africa
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Malawi
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre was set up in 2007 as Malawi’s only accredited wildlife sanctuary for orphaned or injured wild animals.
This is Malawi’s only accredited wildlife sanctuary for orphaned or injured wild animals as well as being the country’s leading environmental education provider with over 20,000 school children taking part in education programmes each year.
You can apply to help at the wildlife rescue centre or join conservation, primate and vet internships.
The ORCA Foundation isn't a wildlife sanctuary, but they are doing amazing work helping marine animals which is why we added them to our list. The ORCA Foundation was established in 2001 and offer conservation and educational volunteer programs in South Africa where you can help marine animals like whales and dolphins. Their ORCA whale and marine conservation project in the Plettenberg Bay is highly recommended.
Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF), Agra, India
Founded by Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani and located only a few miles from the world famous Taj Mahal, the ABRF centre rescues and cares for bears which have been used for entertainment.
Captive bears in India have been treated appallingly in the past - forced to dance and perform stunts for tourists and locals but Wildlife SOS have been rescuing the bears and giving them a new safe life. You can visit to see the bears in person and learn about efforts being done to protect them.
- Web: www.wildlifesos.org/rescue/bears/bear-rescue-centres/agra
- Address: Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, keetam, Agra
Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand
Located in Thailand, Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuart (BLES) is devoted to creating a safe and natural environment for elephants. BLES puts the well-being of elephants first, there are no performances — just elephants being elephants. You will get to see elephants roaming free and also learn about the inspirations efforts of founder Katherine Connor in trying to secure a positive eco tourism future for these creates away from the foced tourist rides.
- Address: 304 Mu 5, Baan Na Ton Jan, Tambon Baan Tuek, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai, Thailand 64130
Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in northern Thailand where you can visit or spend time volunteering. You will also find dogs, cats and other animals being cared for here. By visiting the ENP you will get to learn about elephants and efforts being done to protect these creatures.
This is one of the best elephant santuaries in Thailand which allow elephants to roam free without being forced into riding tourists around on their backs. Day trips and longer experiences are available. You might like to read this experience; 'Alternatives to Riding Elephants in Thailand' of volunteering at ENP.
- Address:209/2 Sridom Chai Road, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Moon Bear Rescue Centre, China
Founded by Jill Robinson in 1998, Animals Asia is a well respected NGO which works to help and protect bears from the horrifically cruel bear bile industry. To date, Animals Asia has rescued over 400 bears and looks after them in sanctuaries in China and Vietnam. The Moonbear sanctuary in Chengdu, China is open to visitors year round.
Sepilok Organutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo
Keen to travel to Borneo is complete without visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Centre. Established in 1964 and located in Sabah this sanctuary is home to around 80 orangutans who roam free in 43sq of rain forest. If you have ever had an interest in going to volunteer with orangutans then you will love this location.
The staff here provide medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans as well as other animals. You can visit all year round and there are viewing platforms where you can watch the orangutans feed at 10am and 3pm, you can also read more information about efforts being made to protect these animals.
- Web: www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/about-us/sepilok-rehabilitation-centre
- Address: Sepilok Rd, Sabah, Malaysia
Wildlife Friends Foundation, Thailand
WFFT is a wildlife foundation which rescues and cares for sick and abandoned animals, they aim to help wildlife, educate people, prevent hunting and promote conservation. You have the option to visit the centre or spend time volunteering where you can work direct with elephants, bears, gibbons, monkeys and other animals.
- Address: Moo 6,Tambon Thamairuak, Amphoe Thayang, 76130 Petchaburi, Thailand
Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand
The Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is a Non-Profit Foundation who are dedicated to giving their elephants the best life possible with the help of visitors and volunteers. Their aim is to bring elephants home to the forest by working with the local communities to not only provide a haven for our elephants, but also provide an alternative livelihood for their mahouts and owners.
Their elephants have been taken from a life of inadequate health care, poor diet, exhaustion and entertaining tourists, they were unable to just be elephants. They brought these wonderful creatures back to their natural environment where they are living in semi-wild conditions, free to roam as much as possible and live their lives how they choose – interacting and foraging. They plan to bring elephants of all ages and sizes home to the forest.
Elephant Freedom Project, Sri Lanka
The Elephant Freedom Project is a small family run wildlife shelter for ex-captive elephants in Sri Lanka. Visits and volunteer tasters can be arranged all year round. As an ethical shelter no elephant riding is allowed but you will get to accompany the elephants on walks. Travellers, families and anyone interested to learn more about elephants in Sri Lanka is welcome to visit.
Cedar Row Farm, Canada
Cedar Row is a family run farm with a difference, founded in 1999 animals are allowed to live freely and hundreds have been rescued including goats, pigs, sheep, donkeys, chickens, cows and ducks. Once a month you can sign up to visit and help at the farm, tasks include cleaning out the barn, tidying up and offering general assistance - e-mail in advance to book a space.
- Web: www.cedarrow.org
- Address: 157017, Zorra Line 15, N0M 2G0, Ontario, Canada
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located on the East Coast of Australia and is home to over 100 koalas and other animals like kangaroos, birds and even platypus. This is the biggest sanctuary in Australia and you can visit and there is also a ‘keeper for a day’ experience available.
- Web: www.koala.net
- Address: 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland, Australia 4069
The Donkey Sanctuary, Devon, UK
The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen and is now an international charity working to help and protect donkeys around the world. You can visit The Donkey Sanctuary in South-West England and see the amazing work being done. There are also volunteer opportunites all around the UK.
- Web: www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
- Address: Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0NU
If this article has inspired you to want to help wildlife conservation efforts you might want to view our volunteer programs with animals - we have placements all around the world. If you have any recommendations for sanctuaries we have missed off our list please let us know in the comments section below.