If you’re an animal lover, the thought of animals being mistreated or cooped up in pens away from their natural environment is horrific. The next time you’re thinking of traveling somewhere new, why don’t you add an animal sanctuary to your list? These animal sanctuaries exist to protect animals that have left their natural environment and focus on rehabilitation.
The ultimate goal is to repopulate these species. All of these sanctuaries are open for guests, so the next time you’re in the area, make sure to schedule a visit. That way, you’ll get the benefit of seeing excellent animal care in person, and they’ll get the benefit of your donation.
Elephant Nature Park
If hanging out with elephants ranging in size from babies to giant active males is your dream, then Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Elephants are such a huge part of Southeast Asian culture, but by going to a sanctuary instead of seeing a show, you’re ensuring that your money is going to help elephants, rather than exploit them.
The staff at the nature park care for tons (and tonnes!) of injured elephants, many of whom come from circuses or the logging industry, and rehabilitate them so they can lead happy and healthy lives. Visitors are welcome, and you can volunteer your time at the sanctuary as well.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is an organization dedicated to the ethical and safe handling of Australia’s cutest species – the koala! Founded in 1927, it’s the world’s oldest koala sanctuary. Although there are many places in Australia where you can hold and take a picture with koalas, Lone Pine is one of the few places that actually respects the koala’s natural eating and sleeping patterns.
Koalas are only allowed to be held for half an hour a day, and the rest of the day they’re free to eat and sleep to their heart’s content. Your money entirely goes to supporting their excellent program, so choose Lone Pine if you can’t bear to leave Australia without a snuggly koala hug.
Tiggywinkles – named after a character in a beloved Beatrix Potter story – is a sanctuary home to some of the cutest rehabilitation patients in the world. It’s one of Britain’s largest hospitals for injured animals – they regularly take in more than 1,000 patients a year. They have a visitor’s center, where you can tour their facilities and see some of the animals that haven’t been able to go back home – like an adorable blind hedgehog or a three-legged deer.
They also host talks on their methods of treatment, and give visitors information, so that the next time you see an animal that you think may be in distress, you’re able to effectively help.