Volunteering with humans is so antiquated. A wheelbarrow full of chimps? Orangutans in diapers? If you're a lover of all things prosimian and yearning for a hands-on adventure abroad, then welcome home: you've found your niche.

Instagram-ability aside, volunteering with primates is a unique and important opportunity: about one third of the world’s primates are critically endangered or vulnerable. You now have the chance to be a part of the global effort to save the monkeys and great apes who are facing the threats of deforestation, poaching, and fragmentation.

Whether you’re catching the next flight to Brazil to assist in the Kaapori capuchin rescue center or trekking to Ghana to restore the habitat of the Roloway monkey, you know your commitment will be fulfilling and impact-driven.

Practice your macaque call and pack your bananas -- you're going to volunteer abroad with primates!

Lucky for you, the primates are plentiful! From Latin America to Asia to Africa, your options definitely aren’t numbered.

Looking for a tropical paradise? Costa Rica is calling your name. Want to contribute to one of the largest primate rehabilitation centers in the world? Then you’re heading to South Africa. Craving a structured program with built-in learning opportunities? Then consider a 4-week stint with the orangutans in Borneo. Whichever program you choose, you’ll know that you'll be making a positive difference.

Latin America

Home to the endangered Capuchin, the Rio Mayo Titi Monkey, and the Brown Spider Monkey, this region has plenty of need and lots of opportunity! Most of these incredibly lovable and clever primates are subjected to destructive deforestation, disease, and live capture, leaving them vulnerable and their numbers diminishing.

If your Spanish is muy bueno and your heart craves the tropics, then salsa on over to Bolivia, Argentina, Costa Rica, or one of the other countries in need of your support.

Africa

Fancy yourself the old world monkeys native to the motherland? South Africa houses one of the largest primate rehabilitations centers in the world, while Madagascar will have you saying, “look at all the lemurs!” Or instead, trek into Central or Eastern Africa to work with the majestic mountain gorillas.

The world's second-largest continent has lifetimes of experiences, boundless diversity, and incredible opportunities for you to support their primate wildlife. Reverse the destructive acts that have been detrimental to the community, such as hunting and fragmentation, while immersing yourself in culture, language, and purpose.

Asia

Skip over to Borneo, the largest island in Asia and the home of the Bornean Orangutans, or bound to Thailand’s western province where you can work in Gibbon Primate Sanctuary. Alternatively, travel to Vietnam, and help rescue and return endangered primates into the wild.

Volunteer opportunities are year-round, but some programs require an application -- so if you plan to travel during peak seasons (like the summer) or are making a last minute escape, be sure to book as soon as possible!

Although each program provides unique opportunities, focuses, and objectives for their volunteers, there are four common categories that your work will fall under while you volunteer abroad with primates:

Research and Monitoring

For the avid data collector, seize the chance to observe patterns or conduct research with a team of experts in the field. For the vast pool of volunteer abroad programs with a research component, you will be able to contribute to the scientific community with your trip overseas with primates! Discover your potential through the research programs based in Malawi, Madagascar, and Malaysia, among others.

Surrogate Parenthood – Primate Care

Oh the joys and pains of parenthood! Temporarily adopt a population of primates while learning how to help them thrive in their rehab center alongside key staff who are saving the population.

Responsibilities include feeding and grooming the primates, cleaning and maintaining their living space, and, of course, supervising playtime.

Habitat Restoration

This is where the impact happens: get ready to roll up your sleeves and create a home for the primates. Tree planting and environment restoration to increase primate population will promote their survival for future generations.

Education Outreach

Find your inner activist and help spread the word about primate conservation. You’ll get to interact directly with the community you’re working within by raising awareness and sharing knowledge all while catalyzing a lasting change in behavior.

Housing

One of the best aspects of volunteering abroad with primates is that your housing options are as diverse as your locations. Often, your accommodations will be in close proximity to your place of work or directly in the primate sanctuary itself! On the rare occasion, you may be placed in a nearby town.

Guest houses are the most common form of accommodation. You will share a living space with fellow volunteers from all over the world. Sometimes these dormitories are single-gender, and other times they are co-ed. In locations where mosquito nets are needed, programs will most likely provide them, but it’s always smart to double check!

You can expect a place to shower, a place to cook or purchase local food, and a main contact to help you get oriented, find the best local spots, and settle into your new home for the next few months. Take advantage of your close quarters and bond with international volunteers with similar passions and goals while you're there.

Common Program Requirements

Made your list and checked it twice? Packing can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when you're traveling abroad. There are a few key to-do's to cross off your list before you bound away to the land of the primates.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common requirements for working with the primates so that you don’t have to! Common must-haves include (but are not limited to):

  • A passport (make sure to check the expiry date!)
  • Proof of Medical and Travel insurance
  • Proof of vaccinations of: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus
  • Negative test results for Tuberculosis and HIV (which could be transferred to primates)

Additional Tips

Still don’t feel so ready? That’s OK! Most programs offer an informative phone call with key staff members to help you prepare for your trip so you can ask all your questions and hear about your placement from an expert

Be sure to bring funds for independent travel! We know that you’ll love your quality time with bushbabies, capuchins, and chimps, but don’t forget that you have an opportunity to explore a whole new region! You won’t regret bringing a little extra spending money for tours, SAFARIs, or souvenir shopping.

Contributed by Helen Seely

Primate Volunteer Programs

Displaying 1 - 15 of 90 programs
RAREC
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Frontier
Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtle Conservation
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1 review

As a volunteer, you'd be stationed in Frontier's research camp, which...

Monkey Helpline
Monkey Helpline Volunteer
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6 reviews

A once in a lifetime opportunity to assist in the rescue...

Hibiscus Travels
Most Affordable & Meaningful Volunteer Program in Costa Rica
Multiple Countries
28 reviews

Hibiscus Travels offers fields of interest for internships, service...

Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures
Malayan Rainforest Conservation Station
Malaysia
24 reviews1 interview

Malaysia is blessed with a high biodiversity of wildlife...

All Out Africa
Safari to Coast Conservation Volunteer Project
Multiple Countries
15 reviews3 interviews

The Kruger to Coast Volunteer Tour will take you through some of the...

Globalteer
Great Value Conservation & Animal Care Projects from US$114/week
Asia
13 reviews1 interview

Do you want to volunteer to help an amazing variety of rescued animals...

Oyster Worldwide
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Thailand
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This sanctuary has been set up to rescue wild animals from abuse and...

La Senda Verde
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7 reviews4 interviews

La Senda Verde wildlife refuge is located approximately 2.5 hours by...

Operation Wallacea
Conservation Research Assistant Program in Mexico
Mexico
6 reviews

Operation Wallacea is a research and environmental organisation...

Give A Fig Volunteering
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Sri Lanka
8 reviews1 interview

Join our year round education, and village development projects in Sri...

Pod Volunteer
Pod Volunteer | Animal Rescue in Thailand
Thailand
7 reviews2 interviews

Thailand is a magnet for travellers from around the world due to its...

What People Are Saying

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Taking part in the SAVE project is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Everyone at SAVE were very kind and welcoming. I took part in the surf and adventure program in Cape Town and it was so...

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I was in the Surf Adventure program where we volunteered in the schools of the townships in the morning, and then in the afternoon with older kids in sporting activities, including swim, surf, dance...

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Volunteering with SAVE was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. SAVE is a wonderful organization that cares a lot about the community. The people that run it are dedicated and have...

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