AERU is the first elephant research unit dedicated to optimizing the welfare of captive elephants in South Africa.

Based at the Knysna Elephant Park in the Western Cape of South Africa, AERU has since become a non-profit research trust, dedicated to the advancement and/or dissemination of information relating to all aspects of biology, behaviour and husbandry of African elephants, with particular reference to their welfare and management in captive facilities.



Working with elephants is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. As a volunteer you will contribute to all aspects of elephant research, education, husbandry and conservation. We ask all our volunteers to be enthusiastic, dedicated, willing, able and keen to get involved with anything and have a genuine love of wildlife.

The participation of dedicated and hard-working volunteers is integral to AERU’s success and their contribution is invaluable – we could not do the research we do without them! AERU welcomes volunteers from all over the world. There are no prior qualifications to volunteer other than a love of animals and a desire to help.

Through this programme, our volunteers are directly involved in elephant research and aid in providing information that relates directly to the welfare and management of captive elephants in South Africa.