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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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HELENOUR DUKE
British

Care for Animals at Colombo Zoo in Sri Lanka, Volunteering
         

Visitors tend to come and watch us working wherever we are. Sometimes I think we're as much of an attraction as the animals! It's hard work physically and if you want to get a project underway you really have to push and you can't give up but it's well worth it, and the director is lovely! I'm thoroughly enjoying it and one of the high lights so far was being able to watch a giraffe giving birth!

It was an amazing experience and well worth sitting in the rain for 4 hours for. Sounds like madness but it's a once in a life time opportunity that we weren't going to miss! Sri Lanka is really beautiful but a little hot at times!

Can you describe a typical day?

  •  We get up around 6am (which is always fun!) and then set off for the zoo around 6:30 - 7ish, when we're ready. We get to the zoo between about 7:45 and 8:30 depending on the traffic and the time we set out.

  • When we get there, before we started our project we would go to Nadu (assistant curator's) office and get some work from him. We could either request to work with specific animals or in the aquarium or we just did what he had planned for us.

  • The work is generally feeding and cleaning out the animals, power-hosing the animals' pools and such. We generally ended up very muddy, dirty and sweaty because of the heat! But it's good fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

  • While we are cleaning out the animals, we do mostly herbivores and are generally in the enclosure with them and a zoo keeper, the animals take an interest in what we're doing and come up to say hello. Most of the time the zoo keeper ignores them so we tend to give them a hug!

  •  When we were cleaning out the giraffes the other day they reached over the fence to give us kisses while we were working! They do tend to dribble in your hair though!

  •  We've started a project, building a new enclosure for the rabbits and guinea pigs. we got the posts concreted in today... I just hope the concrete sets in the rain!

  • Since we started our project we've been working really hard to get it underway. When we get to the zoo we go straight down to the supply area and get what we need for the day. This generally takes quite a long time so a lot of patience is needed - they're very nice but the language barrier is sometimes a bit of a problem. It took us 20 minutes to explain cement to them the other day!

  •  Then we go to the children's area and crack on with building the enclosure.

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COLOMBO ZOO Project in Sri Lanka
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