Spend 2 weeks volunteering with orangutans & other animals for £845 if you book by the end of 2017!
Provide care for orangutans and other orphaned and injured wild animals who are preparing for rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild.
Learn animal care skills and experience Indonesia’s beauty!
Are you aiming for a career in animal care, zoo-keeping or wildlife conservation? Or maybe you just love animals and want to help them?
Join the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Java, Indonesia, providing care for orangutans and other orphaned and injured wild animals who are preparing for rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild.
Why is this project so important?
Due to the rapid destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, hundreds of orangutans and other critically endangered species are dying or losing their homes. The orphaned young are frequently sold into the illegal exotic pet trade, condemned to spend their lives in cramped cages, eating unsuitable diets and performing dangerous and demeaning tricks for human entertainment.
The rescue facility receives animals confiscated from illegal ownership under the Protected Wildlife Law and wherever possible, preparing them for rehabilitation. Those who cannot be returned to the wild due to health or behavioural conditions may make the Centre their permanent home.
What will you learn as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, you’ll learn about rescues, animal injuries, effective rehabilitation, enrichment and release. You’ll get to learn from Randy, the centre’s vet – and if any animals need treating, you may even get the opportunity to observe this and other animal checks. On top of this, you’ll build practical skills through enclosure maintenance and building, as well as feeding and enrichment. Volunteers staying for multiple weeks can gain more responsibility by briefing new volunteers on the project and the animals. (If you’re looking to gain skills to kick-start your career, check out Renae’s story – a past volunteer who progressed to Project Leader at the centre!)
The Centre enjoys a close relationship with the local villages, which is home to the majority of the centre’s staff. Not only does this provide employment opportunities for the villagers, it also helps to spread awareness of environmental protection and animal welfare at this critical local level. To further this educational role and provide a valuable cultural exchange for both locals and volunteers, the Centre offers a “Community English” class for all locals and a club for local children. As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to take part in these fun and informal sessions. You will also have the opportunity to join a range of traditional and local cultural experiences including gamelan lessons and batik lessons as well as visiting a local family for a traditional Javan dinner – a delicious way to truly experience life in the village. If the orangutans haven’t melted your heart completely then the warmth and hospitality of the local people surely will.
What to expect
Get a taste for the experience and see the highlights of our past volunteers:
The Centre is NOT a zoo and does not exhibit the animals to the public except under controlled conditions for educational programmes. As a volunteer you will have a unique opportunity to get close to all of the animals, to observe and interact* with them and contribute to their welfare. You will become personally acquainted with the 7 orangutans currently living at the Centre, including an adorable, inquisitive young orangutan born in May 2013. You will also regularly work up close with other primates such as gibbons and macaques, as well as the variety of birds, reptiles and small mammals that make up the Centre’s population of around 200 magnificent creatures. In a rural area close to a traditional village, you can also marvel at the sights and sounds of the Centre’s many unofficial residents as you enjoy Indonesia’s rich biodiversity.
Yogyakarta is the cultural capital of Java and there are plenty of things to see and do on your days off: Visit the Sultan’s Palace, Prambanan temple or Borobudur (the world’s largest Buddhist temple), explore Mount Merapi (an active volcano), cycle through local markets and lush rice paddies or take in some traditional gamelan music and shadow puppetry – the choice is yours.
If you love animals, don’t mind getting your hands dirty cleaning enclosures and are happy to share your enthusiasm and knowledge with local villagers, this is the volunteer programme for you.
Please Note that enclosures for many of the animals are small and not intended as permanent homes –the centre receives no external funding and must do what they can with limited resources. Every effort is made to continually improve the facilities and the living arrangements for all wildlife. Your presence at the Centre not only enriches the animals’ lives, but your financial support helps to improve the future for these wonderful animals.
*Interacting with wildlife – as the centre is a rehabilitation centre there is a strict no touching policy. Physical interaction with humans can hinder their ability to be released into the wild again. Furthermore, as the animals are wild, they can act very unpredictably. A no touching policy assists to avoid injury.
If you don’t have the opportunity to volunteer but had always wanted to do something for a good cause, why not fundraise for these projects! Visit our Fundraising page for more info or write to us here
What Daniel Says
“Jogja, one volunteer said to me, is the ritz of volunteering. Yes the accommodation is nice, the food is fresh and healthy and our in house chef can even cater for vegans (but you will get the odd breakfast :-)) but the people again make the place magical. Rosa, who is the most fluent english speaker at the centre is a delight and one of the most hard working people I know. Renae has taken the programme to the next level and introduced lots of new fun and interactive sessions in the afternoon, for example, the gamelan session where you mix with local youths who teach you about Javanese culture and at the same time practice and improve their English. Another new addition is the weekly visit to sites where eagles who have been rehabilitated at the centre and released. These visits to the release sites allows us all to experience the ultimate end that we want all our animals to achieve, back to freedom. Randy the new vet is very knowledgeable and interactive and loves sharing his passion for the animals with the volunteers.
All of this before even mentioning the stars, the animals. The centre has the respect of the government of Indonesia which is good and bad, as nearly all confiscated animals in Java end up being cared for at the centre. This is great, but means the centre really needs to expand its capacity and we currently have severe growing pains. This is a wildlife rescue centre that is at the centre of the rescue for animals caught up in the vicious wildlife trade industry. Again this is a project were I feel totally at home and one that I am proud to be apart of. We are doing the best that we can, with the resources that we have. I know this project is more expensive than the rest but the experience is one that will stick with you forever.”
Check out this review by David JR of Malaysia Asia: Voluntourism in Jogjakarta Malaysia
- Cost and Booking
- Travel Dates
- Profiles of the animals
- Make an Enquiry
2017 & 2018
2 weeks – GBP 845
1 week – GBP 633
* Each week after the first is an extra GBP 212.
Dates – Every monday 52 weeks per year.
Return airport pickup from Yogyakarta International Airport (JOG)
Three meals per day plus snacks, tea and coffee and free drinking water
Shared accommodation in twin room
All activities as per itinerary
English-speaking programme facilitator
Donation to the project (your fee supports the Centre’s operational costs such as animal food, equipment, staff salaries etc).
Not included: International and internal airfare, visa application/fees, private transfers, meals and accommodation when travelling independently, insurance and luxuries.
5 Easy Steps to Book Your Orangutan Adventure:
1) Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
2) Contact us here with your initial inquiry – tell us about yourself and the project you would like to join.
3) You will receive an e-mail with more information and the application form to complete.
4) On receipt of your application we will confirm your reservation and inform you how to make your deposit payment. Your reservation will be held for 2 weeks, after which it will be cancelled automatically if no deposit is received.
5) Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account.
It’s that Simple!! Once your deposit has been paid you will receive our Know Before You Go guide, which is packed full of useful information about your project and general tips to prepare you for volunteering.
Shadow an Animal Keeper
Working with a different keeper and group of animals each day, you will experience the full spectrum of wildlife at WRC Jogja. You will participate in enclosure cleaning, feeding, food preparation, maintenance and enclosure enrichment and spend a morning with WRC’s vet – the perfect opportunity to observe, learn about the animals and ask lots of questions!
Building enclosures for our wildlife friends – Building good, sturdy and spacious enclosures is essential for the animals well being. Thus whenever needed, volunteers will be assisting the animal keepers to build enclosures for the animals. Read more about building enclosures for our wildlife friends on our blog here
Kids Club English (for kids)
Every Wednesday there is a kids club English class for all children in nearby villages. The class has a local teacher who organises games and learning activities for the children to encourage them to learn English as their third language. This is a fun and interactive session where volunteers will help to organise games with the teacher to play with the children. You can also help raise awareness of environmental sustainability!
Don’t worry if you’ve never taught before – you won’t have to teach alone and your on-site facilitator will support you through every step.
One of the centre’s newest programs has taken the previous staff English to the community. The class is run by a local teacher who helps many youth (normally aged 15 – 30) to learn conversational English through fun interactive games. Volunteers will help as a “native speaker” to encourage the students to learn their third language.
In the last 5 years the centre has released 9 eagles back into the wild in Java, many close to the centre. Other animals have been translocated to release programs on their native islands. One afternoon after work volunteers will have the opportunity to visit a previous animal release site and learn about the release program from the centre.
The centre is focused on building a strong positive lasting relationship with the local villagers. They do this by engaging in a number of cultural activities including a traditional gamelan (music) class and batik (wax art) class in a nearby local village. They also join traditional dances and performances near the village when they are performed. The centre also holds informal sports sessions in the village to encourage locals to interact with people from different cultures and practice their language skills. This is also a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to learn some simple Indonesian and make some new friends.
Friday evenings you will be welcomed into the home of a staff member from the local village where you will enjoy traditional, home-cooked Javan cuisine and maybe even try your hand at preparing some. The smiles are infectious and the delicious food just keeps on coming, so be sure to work up an appetite during the day!
Following your arrival, airport transfer, orientation and safety briefing, a typical day will look like this:
6:30 Breakfast & Brief
7:00 Meet Your Keeper – Prepare for work
7:30 Enclosure Cleaning
9:30 Coffee Break and Snacks
10:00 Feeding Time
11:00 Enrichment or Maintenance
13:00 Working with your keeper or Enrichment
14:30 Feeding Time
15:00 – 17:30 Kids Club English/Community English/Cultural Engagement/Release site
An individual daily schedule, including free days for sightseeing, will be created based on your length of stay and the animals’ needs at the time.
Shared (single sex) twin rooms with en suite (cold) shower and Western style toilet. Rooms come with air-con, drinking water dispenser and tea / coffee facilities.
There is a communal lobby area with a television, where volunteers can socialize and also enjoy meals together. All meals are included but you will have access to the stove and refrigerator in the kitchen should you require them, as well as a washing machine.
All rooms have private balconies where you can dry laundry or simply relax overlooking the forest.
Internet access is available at the volunteer accommodation.
Programmes starts every Monday.
What are the requirements to join this volunteering project?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English or Bahasato be able to communicate with the staff / facilitator.
Minimum age requirement is 18 years old.
Volunteers will need to provide evidence of the relevant vaccinations and medical tests including Hepatitis A, B and C and TB.
Do I need to apply for visa to join?
Depending on the country of your passport and entry port into Indonesian depends whether you will need a visa. The centre recommends you speak to an Indonesian consulate in your home country for more details.
How many hours per day do volunteers work?
Activities with the animals normally run from 7am – 3pm and after work (optional) activities are normally between 3.30/4pm – 5.30/6pm. There will be snack breaks and one hour for lunch.
Beni and Boni – are both adult male orangutans, rescued from private owners. They have learnt unnatural behaviours from their former captors. Boni sweeps and cleans the floor of his enclosure, as he was taught to clean his owner’s house and wash his car. Beni was kept in illegal mini zoo in a cage so small that he couldn’t stand up and has developed a hunch. For these reasons, they will remain at the centre as they can not return to the wild.
With his fine, thick coat and gentle eyes, Boni is the resident charmer at WRC Jogja, but he knows how to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get your attention! Beni is the shy orangutan, generally placid but with hidden depths – nobody really knows what he is thinking.
Gogon and Dedek – were kept by a police officer in Semarang, Central Java. He used to take them around on his motorcycle and feed them candies. Together since a young age, Gogon and Dedek are like brothers and can therefore share an eclosure, although like brothers their play fights can often seem pretty rough. When they came to the centre in 2006, Dedek was diagnosed with an infection which stunted his growth. Nursed back to health by WRC’s vet, he doesn’t let his size stop him making mischief. Gogon is the smartest orangutan and the most stubborn – he keeps his keepers on their toes trying to clean his enclosure!
Ucokwati, Joko and Mungil – are the Centre’s resident orangutan family. Ucokwati and Joko were kept at a restaurant in Solo, Central Java where they lived in a narrow cage, ate an unhealthy diet of rice and cooked foods and smoked cigarettes to amuse customers. Brought to the Centre in 2011 they had to adapt to an orangutan’s diet of fruit and vegetables to prepare for rehabilitation. But as the time to return to their homeland of Borneo approached, it turned out Ucokwati was pregnant and in May 2013, Mungil (“the tiny one” in Bahasa Indonesia) was born. With support from the vet and animal keepers, Ucokwati is raising her own baby which is very rare for orangutans born in captivity. Mungil is a healthy baby girl with her mother’s beautiful eyes, who grows more inquisitive day by day. Meanwhile, poor Joko has had to move out to give mum and baby their space and he misses playing with his former mate. A very friendly orangutan, Joko loves to interact with others and enjoys playing catch and tricking the volunteers. Don’t stand too close though – he is extremely quick and strong and always looking for new toys to steal!
- To make an enquiry or to book, kindly email us using our Contact Us form.
Marcel, May 2013
Laetitia, August 2013
Cristin, August 2013
Georgina, Feb 2013
“I have had so many opportunities here to develop personally and I feel more confident in my abilities. I learnt all about the animals, how to effectively rehabilitate animals using enrichment and the proper ways to undertake releases back into the wild.” (Case study at http://ecoteerresponsibletravel.com/volunteer-wrc-jogja-animal-care-career/)
Renae Smith, April 2017
“I had the absolute best two weeks of my life volunteering at the centre. All the staff were lovely, the area is so beautiful, the accommodation was an excellent standard and working so closely with the animals was a dream come true. It was such a different way of life from the UK but it’s beautiful. This experience has encouraged me to start studying a TEFL course in order I may be able to travel more whilst working and teaching English. Living out there is truly an eye-opener.” (Full trip report at this link http://blog.ecoteer.com/my-indonesian-orang-utan-adventure)
Sian Cowan, July 2013
“This was the first time I had done a volunteering program and I was really surprised by how much i got out of the 7 days. The organizers and fellow workers at the conservation are just fantastic and extremely helpful to ensure that you get the most out of your experience. I went with a friend and she had done a lot of volunteering in the past and classed the accommodation as the “hilton” of volunteering programs – so in short excellent accommodation and facilities. Each day consists of something different and essentially involves you in the husbandry of the various animals. The week before we arrived, a baby sun bear “Badue” was bought to the center and its hard not to fall in love with an animal like that. So if you are animal lover, this is for you. You also get to do some manual labor, which for me was the most enjoyable, being stuck behind a computer for 15 hours a day at work means not a lot of time to get my hands dirty and the enclosure enrichment/building was really enjoyable – i.e. start something from the beginning and watch something get built from the ground up.. if i went back i would probably take a power saw though! A lot of wood to cut!! I would highly recommend this to someone who enjoys animals and wants to give a little something back to well deserved cause.”
Lauchlan Leishman, Jan 2013
“I just got back from a Wildlife Rescue Center near Jogjakarta (Java, Indonesia) and had a FABULOUS time! Most of the animals living there come from either the illegal poaching trade or have been injured in some way. Although the goal is to release them back to the wild if possible, they still need to be looked after, which is where YOU come in! They have over 100 animals on-site including gibbon monkeys, birds (fruit eating and predatory), turtles, crocodiles, a baby sun bear from Sumatra, and of course the orangutans. On top of that, you help teach the local school children English as well as the animal keeper staff. The people at the Center are so kind and take wonderful care of you (plenty of food to eat) and you get to experience a traditional Javanese meal at the end of the week. The big bonus is that all of the money goes towards running the Center so it truly is an eco friendly tour. Of course some of it is hard work, like cleaning enclosures, but you also go on vet rounds to learn about the different species, cut up fruits and veggies for feeding time, as well as build enclosures and help with the food enrichment projects, and of course feeding the animals is THE BEST, especially the orangutans. So if anyone is interested in the program, or knows someone else that is an animal lover (college age or older), please pass on this information. You will never get to experience these animals so close in the US (even if you volunteer at a zoo). I learned so much and truly loved the animal interaction. You can read more of the project here at this link http://ecoteerresponsibletravel.com/portfolio/orangutanvolunteerproject or email your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if this trip does not interest you, but you are still looking for an eco friendly tour/learning experience, you can visit this website for more ideas (this is how I found out about the Center): www.ecoteerresponsibletravel.com And as always, feel free to ask me questions since I can not say enough good things about this experience.”
Ronna Brody, April 2013
“My experience at the Jogja Wildlife Rescue Centre was life changing. I found myself completing tasks and experiencing things I never imagined that I would. And I absolutely loved it! The staff, the locals and other volunteers made me feel so welcome, that after a while it felt like home. I learnt so much working with the animals and even saw some that I didn’t know existed. Spending time with the orangutans was unquestionably the highlight of the trip. They are the most incredible animals and I did have a little cry when I had to say goodbye. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer.”
Sam Hunt, January 2013
“I visited the centre for 5 days in September 2012. The centre is small but doing fantastic things, the team keepers led by the infectiously happy Dian, the resident vet, are all dedicated to their animals. The keepers English is low but communication is 75% through your body not your mouth so we all got along like a house on fire. Kun and Johno are both fun loving characters and who always made me feel at home. Joko was always fun and Johno and I had to think of new ways to trick him to leave his main enclosure so we could clean it. In the end, the lure of sweet fresh honey was too much for him! What I really liked about the place was being able to get to know all the staff. The teaching sessions are fun, we taught English comprehension using Orangutans as the subject. We also played adaptations to the games “who am I” using animals. Everyone seemed to enjoy it even though it was hard at times I was also able to play football with Rendy and a few of his friends from the village and we shared dinner with his family in their home, a perfect way to finish my stay.”
Daniel, November 2012
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