Discover the unusual natural landscape of Florida and join this animal conservation project to help wild animals in need. The animal conservation centre cares for the animals and gives them a safe environment to recover. Visitors also come to the centre to find out more about how to handle different species appropriately and the danger which the animals are in. Play an active role in local animal conservation and have an unforgettable time in Florida.
Get to know the USA’s sunshine state and join an animal conservation project in the heart of the varied natural landscape of Florida. The state is famous for its unique diversity - visitors can look forward to outstanding sandy beaches along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, fascinating swamplands in the Everglades and an extravagant urban region on the Atlantic East Coast.
This project gives you the opportunity to put your energy to good use by contributing to the maintenance of a wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary is a rescue centre for wild animals which are unable to survive in the wild due to ill-treatment, neglect or abandonment. Here they are given a home and the peace they need to recover and gather strength. You will come face to face with bears, wild cats, wolves, primates, bats and more – all animals which you would never encounter at such close quarters in their natural habitat. The wildlife sanctuary relies on the help of volunteer workers to sustain and expand what is a lifelong refuge for so many animals. By participating in this project, you will find that you will grow and rise to the challenge.
However, please be aware that the animal centre is not a petting zoo, and you need to take your responsibilities seriously. Direct contact with the animals is forbidden for safety reasons and in order to protect the welfare of the animals. The rules regarding this are extremely strict and should be followed to the letter. You should also be aware that, unfortunately, not every animal will recover. This may lead to a few sad moments during your stay.
Your adventure begins, depending on the starting date, with your arrival (on a Sunday) at Orlando International Airport. You can arrange your transfer yourself by hiring a car. We will be pleased to help you with this. Otherwise you can be picked up at Orlando Airport by centre staff for a surcharge of $100. Your project can be of 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 weeks’ duration. During your stay in Florida, you will work up to 8 hours a day. Minor chores are carried out on Sundays. The diverse tasks include preparing the food and feeding the animals, cleaning and maintaining the enclosures and the grounds, as well as assisting with veterinary care. In order to ensure that you have a safe and instructive time, the local coordinators will supply you with curricula and training materials. Direct contact with the animals is forbidden, on the one hand for safety reasons and on the other hand out of consideration for the condition of the animals.
The wildlife sanctuary also hosts groups of visitors to raise awareness and inform about animal care and welfare. Your working clothes should ideally be long trousers and thin long-sleeved tops, to keep insects at bay. Please also consider that some tasks may result in considerable wear and soiling to your clothes. On a tourist visa you can work as a volunteer in the USA for 8 to 12 weeks. Participating in this project is a once in a lifetime experience from which you too will benefit. It is an unbelievable feeling when – with time and care – you realise the animals are starting to regain confidence and strength. The unique surroundings, the international contacts, the mutual work and the growing success will give you a feeling of utter satisfaction, which you will never forget.
The wildlife sanctuary is in Florida. It is situated one and a half hours from Orlando and 1 hour from Daytona. The location is in a beautiful expanse of land in a rural area, surrounded by the Ocala National Forest – a perfect place of refuge for animals. There are no means of public transport. In Florida, you will be based near the wildlife sanctuary in Silver Springs. You will lodge in furnished accommodation together with other volunteers. Men and women live in separate buildings. Please note that the quality of the accommodation varies significantly, so you should keep your expectations in check. The kitchen and washing facilities are available at all times. In the accommodation you will find a toilet, hot shower, electricity, air-conditioning, television and DVD player, as well as a WLAN connection which you can use for your laptop or other WLAN-enabled devices. The accommodation is also equipped with a telephone. Calls in the USA are free but for overseas calls you will need a prepaid card. It goes without saying that the volunteers must keep the accommodation clean and tidy. It is also possible that you could be the only volunteer in the wildlife sanctuary during your project time. Food will be provided but you will have to prepare it. You can cook together with the other volunteers in the kitchen. In view of the remote location of the wildlife sanctuary and the lack of infrastructure, you can accompany the centre employees on shopping trips to purchase any food and/or other items that you may need.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
On account of the remote location and lack of infrastructure, the opportunities for leisure activities are relatively limited. If you have a driving licence and are 21 years old (25 years old for some companies), you can hire a car. We will gladly help you with this at Orlando Airport or near Ocala, if required. We strongly recommend that you plan some extra time either before or after your project, so you can explore all that the Sunshine State has to offer. At NATUCATE we will be pleased to assist you with your plans and give you invaluable tips for a memorable trip to the USA.
Florida is one of the most interesting states in the USA. Florida is a popular destination for daytrippers and tourists looking for adventure because of its subtropical and tropical climate and the resulting variety of animal and plant species. However, tourism and conservation frequently don’t see eye to eye. Because of this, the only way to keep the largely untouched natural landscape as it is is to regulate tourism and set up protected areas. A variety of species conservation projects are also attempting to protect animal species which are particularly at risk and nurse injured wild animals back to health.