Safari Park Volunteering – Cubs
When planning out our RTW trip, I knew I wanted to volunteer during our time abroad and somehow came across Safari Park Volunteers while researching online. It was affordable (some volunteer programs are actually really costly and require a huge time commitment), we could choose how long we wanted to volunteer for, and we would get to spend time with lots of animals! Of course, seeing videos of the cubs and big cats really sold me, and I constantly pleaded with Minh to add this to our plans. He was hesitant at first, but finally gave in, since he knows my love for animals – especially cats.
We volunteered for a week at the Park in Kanchanaburi, where we stayed on-site at the dorms. We also happened to be volunteering in what was apparently the hottest week in history for the past 65 years in Thailand! It was on average 102+ degrees everyday, plus a lovely blanket of humidity to top it off.
Here’s an overall highlight video of our week volunteering at the park!
There are rotating teams that volunteers are placed on – Cubs, Rescue, Safari and Big Cats. Since there are so many different animals and teams to cover, we’ll be splitting up our posts into 3 parts.
Volunteer Team – Cubs
Our days volunteering with the cubs were the most tiring, but most rewarding. It’s a full day starting at 8am sweeping, prepping, and cleaning the areas before the cubs are brought in. The cubs are full of energy and we learned very quickly that you should never ever have your back turned to any of them, as they will pounce you!
During our time there, we got well acquainted with the lion cubs Lily and Sakura:
tiger cub Rose, who loved to cool off in the tub:
the trio of leopard cubs, Smoothie, Deena, and Juicy:
the larger leopard cub Larcey, whom everyone was afraid of being in the enclosure with for too long:
The leopards are kept in their own separate enclosures, as they are much more intense and are natural climbers, so they jump and climb all over you, the fence, and anything else.
and larger lion cub, Bella (only 4 months old at the time but the biggest of all the cubs):
who I got to walk one morning (in actuality, she walked me).
Immediately after this photo was taken, Bella somehow managed to un-toggle the leash and chomped right down on my butt! I had a nice puncture and bruise to take home with me. Lesson learned, don’t ever take your eyes off the wild animal – even if they’re on a leash!
We also both got to assist in clicker training to teach her to come when called and to sit.
Our days working on the cub team consisted of feeding the animals, playing with them, and assisting when customers would come visit the park and want photos with the cubs. There was plenty of squealing from me throughout the day working with the cubs as they were all so cute!
The cubs have a lot of energy, similar to domestic kittens who endlessly run and jump around, but are much larger and stronger – so expect a lot of bruises and scratches!
Putting all the rowdy cubs together encouraged social interaction and playtime – most of all, helped exert a lot of that energy!
Mid-day the large tiger, Blue, was brought in, who was sadly brought up to just be chained to a table to take photos with customers.
This was really sad to see, but as of January 2017, Blue is no longer being chained to the table for photos anymore! 🙂
We finished up our day on the cubs team by sweeping and scrubbing down all the floors and ended around 4pm. We headed back to our (non air conditioned) dorm room that now feels like a pre-heated oven, and greeted the half dozen rescue dogs that also reside there. Our room was the furthest from the kitchen area, where all the dogs like to hang out, but one dog, Kota, followed us back to our room. We didn’t want to have any dogs in our room, but Kota is such a sweet dog, she just hung outside our front door and kept us company even though she wasn’t allowed inside.
A few months after we left the park, we found out Kota unfortunately ran out into the street and got hit by a car and is now in doggie heaven 🙁
We felt super beat up from working in the heat and being on the defense from constant pounce attacks, and had plenty of new battle scars.
Despite feeling so physically exhausted from the long day, I just can’t get enough of those cute cubs (#forevercatlady), and am so excited for the experience and to work with all the other animals in the park! Up next, working on the Rescue Team and Safari Team!
Hi there Tiffany, I’m hoping you can help me work something out. I’m really interested in volunteering at the same place you’ve just blogged about this year. However, I’m worried because I don’t want to volunteer somewhere that isn’t ethical. Do you think the enclosures are large enough for the animals there? Do you think that the people running it are focused on the animals or the profits? Also, do they intend to release the animals they rear or will the animals live there for their whole lives? Thank you!