Volunteering in South Africa at the Tiger and Lion Park was the most rewarding experience of my life. It was amazing to interact with the beautiful animals on a day to day basis and get to know their individual personalities and observe their behavior with one another. I knew when I signed up that the animals alone were reason enough for going, but what I did not expect was the time spent with the other volunteers to impact me so greatly.
It was amazing to work together with a group of people who needed each other in order to complete daily tasks and who genuinely wanted to help each other. That is something I have brought back into my daily life and a mentality that I hope to spread into my workplace. Although, at times, the physical work could be challenging, everyone pitched in as much as they could and worked as a team.
Everyone’s favorite part of the day was hands down quality time with the animals in the afternoon. We got to spend time sitting and/or playing with the animals and each visit brought its own special moments. Whether you were sitting petting a tiger, or getting pounced on by one, or reading quietly with Kenny the caracal by your side, all of the animal time was great.
This is not to say that I didn’t get bitten, scratched, bruised, or peed on while playing with the animals, but that’s part of the experience.
Another unexpected perk of volunteering in South Africa at the Lion and Tiger Park were the surprise outings they sprung on us. One day we were taken to go sand sledding on stunning sand dunes overlooking the ocean. Another day we went on a game drive at Addo Elephant Park and had a barbecue there.
I feel like I have made special friends for life, as we all shared in such a unique experience together, and I will never, ever forget the affection for, and the wonderful time I spent with the animals.