I want to touch a wild animal

One thing that I have observed while visiting organizations around the world is that many volunteers NEED a thorough education about they should behave around wild animals and while in a natural habitat. They also need concrete information about what is expected from both sides during their stay with an organization.

On the animal’s terms

When working with animals in the wild, the best premise is always – in and then out again – quickly. Wild animals should seek out volunteers if and when they have a need for them. These are wild animals and should be treated as such. This is unfortunately not the case at many organizations. To many volunteers see the wild animals as some sort of pet or perhaps a trophy or even a way to show the outside world what a ‘good person’ they are for spending time with them.  “See what I’m up to? Isn’t it awesome?” Actions like this are detrimental to the animals.

My goal is to shut down any organization that does not put the welfare of animals first and foremost. Everyone should be working to put an end to crimes like people sitting on the backs of drugged tigers, or petting an anesthetized lion. Or those that use a baby elephant for beach massages or allow rides on its back. Places that allow ‘selfies’ with captured monkeys. It is simply time to put an end to circuses and aquarium shows that use animals as ‘performers’.

These organisations are more concerned about money than what is best for wild animals, and are the wrong places for volunteers to learn about wildlife, instincts and habitat. Remember, they often earn money for taking on volunteers, but do you want to work for a place like that?

What is the right thing to do?

Whether you are a volunteer or a tourist, the same rules apply when it comes to the welfare of wild animals. Ask yourself these questions:

Is this for my own sake, or the animals?

Is this natural behaviour for the animal?

How would I behave if I was tired of strangers being around?

How close do I want a stranger to come?

What is my personal code when dealing with wild animals?

If you have not yet developed a personal code for working or just being in the wild, I will help you create one.

You can then pass that information on to your network, family and friends so they can begin to understand how animals are being abused for the selfish needs and monetary gain of some people and organizations.

It is IMPORTANT to say NO to the organization you work for if they allow you to go beyond an animal’s natural requirements. It is hard to know those boundaries if you have not seen an animal in its natural habitat or are unaware of what other organizations are doing. This is why  the need for education is so vital!

Around-the-clock advice

If you have any questions about wildlife or a specific organization, email me at help@serveglobalwildlife.org.

“I meet wild animals on their terms. You should also”.

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