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Best animal sanctuaries and rescues

100 of the best animal sanctuaries to visit, volunteer or follow

More ethical than zoos, sanctuaries make a great stop on a traveling trip and some rescues have even been founded by former travelers. Here are just a few of the amazing and inspirational not-for-profit animal rescues, sanctuaries, and shelters (in no particular order) located all over the world that offer an interesting and very heart-warming visit. Many of these centers are also actively seeking volunteers, which is a great opportunity for those seeking a more rewarding travel experience. Alternatively, watch a virtual sanctuary tour, follow them on social media…or even adopt one of the residents! 

Animal Sanctuary Map

Barn Sanctuary, Michigan, USA – the sanctuary set up by a former city businessman which even landed itself a TV show on Animal Planet

Barn Sanctuary USA

This sanctuary has been a huge hit on social media and even managed to land itself its own TV show which aired on Animal Planet in 2019. It was started in Chelsea, Michigan in 2016 by the affable founder Dan McKernan who left a high-flying city career to start rescuing and rehabilitating abused, and neglected farmed animals in need. Although he didn’t have any former experience he converted his family’s generations-old 70-acre farm into a rescue which also promotes a plant-based lifestyle and aims to challenge the way farmed animals are viewed by society.

Today the fast-growing sanctuary is home to over 100 animals including cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats. Every rescue at Barn Sanctuary is treated as an individual, with empathy and respect.

Current residents include Kim ‘Queen of the Pig Palace’ who was rescued from horrific conditions in an ongoing cruelty case in Nash County, Ginger the gorgeous blind lamb who likes being held like a baby, and Dexter the calf rescue who has a peg-leg and an adorable nature. 

Visitors are very welcome to tour the sanctuary on the on-site visits which run every weekend during the spring, summer and fall you would need to contact them in advance to arrange.

They also welcome volunteers and volunteer opportunities range from office duties to animal care and shelter tasks, find out more here.

Save A Fox Rescue, Minnesota, USA – a safe haven for rescued ex-fur farm foxes which has a huge social media following

Save a Fox Rescue

A hugely popular rescue on social media, Save a Fox Rescue was set up in 2017 by kind-hearted founder Mikayla Raines, the 10-acre rescue is located in central Minnesota and are now the biggest fox rescue in the United States and have saved approximately 150 foxes so far. They rescue foxes from fur farms and take in pet surrenders. All these foxes were born in captivity and could never be released so they make it their mission to give them a happy life instead.

They also rescue mink and other surrendered exotic animals and raise awareness about the horrors of the fur trade. One of their most popular residents on social media is the ultra-charismatic Finnegan fox who loves cuddles and laughs and chats away much to the delight of his ever-growing group of online fans.

They offer pre-booked tours, virtual tours and also welcome potential adopters.

They also actively looking for volunteers, apply through here.

Takis Shelter, Crete, Greece – the kind-hearted, charismatic dog rescuer who became a huge social media hit

Takis Shelter Crete

Takis Shelter located in Crete, Greece has an incredible story, it was started in 2014 by the very personable Takis who used to own a nightclub and then sold all his possessions to help rescue dogs mostly abandoned due to the economic crisis Greece was going through at the time. Determined to help even under very difficult circumstances, for a while he lived with his rescued dogs in a small trailer. After appearing on social media and making a video for The Dodo the very popular digital brand for animal lovers (the story about Takis is one of the most-watched videos ever presented by The Dodo), donations started to flood in allowing Takis to expand the shelter and continue to help even more strays.

He now has a huge social following and thousands of people watch his daily video updates every day. The shelter rescues mostly dogs but also cats, goats, and sheep and now covers 8.5 acres. Dogs roam around free in large enclosures rather than isolated in a cage like most shelters. People also travel from all over Europe to adopt the rescued dogs and cats.

Legendary Takis residents include Prince Booby who loves to pose for photos with visitors, Grioula ‘Queen of the Shelter’ who is 18 years old and acts just like a baby, Max a beautiful huge Canadian Shepherd who loves to hug visitors and Black, a dog that had a large tumor on his face, was paralyzed and then thrown in the sea to drown. He was rescued by Takis and lived in the shelter for 1 and a half years before sadly losing his battle with cancer but also featured on his own T-Shirt all of which have now become international social media stars!

The Shelter is open Monday – Saturday 11AM – 1pm and visiting is allowed by prior appointment. Interaction with the shelter’s residents is allowed and encouraged (just not with children less than five years old).

The Shelter welcomes volunteers and accommodation is provided. Contact them here to find out more.

Popular Animal Sanctuaries on Facebook

Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), Thailand – a rescue set up by an English traveler after she fell in love with an injured baby elephant

World's best animal sanctuaries

BLES located in Sukhothai, Northern Thailand the 540-acre reserve was founded by English animal lover Katherine Connor in 2006 after she traveled across Asia. During her time spent volunteering at a Thai elephant hospital, she formed a very strong bond with a premature baby elephant.

Instead of finishing her travels, she decided to stay in Thailand to prevent her new friend from being sold to a notorious animal tourist show. After the elephant sadly passed away Katherine sold her possessions in England and set up Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in his memory. They currently have around 12 residents and all the elephants at Boon Lott have been rescued from abuse or mistreatment. Popular residents on social media include Mr Moo a charming male elephant in his fifties who has since been retired from the logging industry and Lotus a formerly neglected trekking elephant.

The sanctuaries welcome both visitors and volunteers and three guesthouses each sleep two people but booking is required. They also welcome day guests. Guests can become involved in all aspects of sanctuary life, including walking elephants to grazing grounds, collecting food from the jungle, and even planting vegetation.

Galgos Del Sol, Murcia, Spain – the popular rescue set up to help the abused ex hunting dogs of Spain

Galgos De Sol Rescue Spain

Galgos Del Sol is a very popular charity set up by English expat Tina Solera in 2007 who moved to Murcia, Spain and wanted to help the Spanish greyhounds known as Galgos. In Spain they are used as hunting dogs and tragically the gentle and sensitive dogs are thought to be  to be one of the most abused breeds of dog anywhere in the world. After hunting season is over they are often killed (in sometimes horrific ways) or abandoned and around that tens of thousands are killed in Spain every year. Tina set out to help rescue the dogs and her home soon became so full that she even spent nights sleeping in her car.

Gaining huge traction on social media is a fully-fledged charity and now the sanctuary is responsible for over  200 Galgos, podencos and mixes of those breeds and they help rehome to all over Europe and the USA. Memorable former rescues include Maltida who went viral after being found wailing and crying after being abandoned in the gutter and GrannyPants a very charming deaf and almost blind elderly Podenca that lived on the streets of Spain for years and was rescued and then found social media fame. Sadly she has since passed but now has her own sanctuary block named after her.

The sanctuary accepts visitors and volunteers, you can apply here and they also run an education building to help raise awareness of their breed’s plight in Spain.

Popular sanctuaries on Instagram

The Gentle Barn, California, USA – the sanctuary made famous for offering very popular ‘Cow Hugging Therapy’ sessions

The Gentle Barn - Cow Hugging Therapy

This Californian-based sanctuary also embraces many of the Californian progressive ideals too. As well as rescuing, rehabilitating and giving sanctuary to severely abused animals they also aim to help people reconnect with nature and teach kindness and compassion, not just towards animals but also for each other and our planet.

Founded in 1999 by animal lover Ellie Laks and then later joined by Jay Weiner who started working at the farm as a volunteer they moved from their original property in the San Fernando Valley to an idyllic six-acre paradise in Santa Clarita which also has a panoramic view of gorgeous mountains. They’ve helped thousands of animals over the years and some current residents include King the llama who was found exhausted wandering the desert with no food, water, or shelter, Hope the formerly abused donkey who was used to smuggle drugs in and out Mexico, and Dylan the poorly chicken who was rescued from the slaughterhouse.

This place is hugely popular with visitors (over 500,000 has visited since its opening) and a huge draw is the very popular ‘Cow Hugging Therapy’ which the one-hour sessions are said to help people deal with the stresses of modern life. Not only can you hug cows but you can also rub pig’s bellies and pet goats!

To visit for private Tours, Cow Hug Therapy and  Virtual Tours check out their website for more information

They also welcome volunteers and all sorts of positions are open to applicants over the age of 14, see their volunteer section for more details.

Territorio de Zaguates Costa Rica – the extraordinary mountain top rescue where over a 1000 stray dogs run free 

Territorio de Zaguates Costa Rica

If you close your eyes and think of a doggy paradise then it will more than likely look like this. This extraordinary and much celebrated non-profit sanctuary located in the mountains in Heredia directly north of San Jose in Costa Rica is otherwise known as ‘Land of a 1000 strays’ is where stray dogs are rescued from the streets and run free in a very large (380 acres) and surprisingly very trouble-free pack. In 2018 they were featured on Netflix in and a viral video showing one of their weekend “dog hikes” helped it achieve even more fame.

Founded in  2008 by husband and wife Lya Battle and Alvaro Saumet who gave up careers bought some land and started rescuing an increasing amount of dogs. Today the shelter is home to approximately 1300 dogs who have been given a much-needed second chance.

Dogs are also available for adoption, some residents include Catrina who was badly burnt in a fire but struggled to live, Felix and Felicia two bonded dogs who survived a brutal stabbing and always remain together despite being introduced to the pack and Cala was a guard-dog of a mechanic who chained her in such a way that she couldn’t even lie down to sleep

This place was also a very popular tourist attraction in its own right and travelers come from all over the world to see the unique place and interact with the vaccinated and well looked after ex-street dogs who can’t seem to get enough of the love and attention. Currently, though the sanctuary is closed to the public due to renovations but they are hoping to accept both visitors and volunteers again soon.

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Utah, USA – one of the most loved animal rescues in North America which offers popular tours

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located on 33,000 acres of exceptionally beautiful Utah landscape. One of America’s best-known animal welfare groups, it was founded in the late 1980s as an alternative to the ‘kill’ shelters in the US. The sanctuary now houses 1,600 displaced, homeless, or unwanted domestic animals ranging from dogs to pot-bellied pigs. They also do great work on adoptions and nationwide campaigns including trying to turn all the country’s shelters into no-kill by 2025 and spay/neuter campaigns. Popular residents on social media include Phantom the snow-white dog rescued after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and Daisy the super cute miniature horse.

They welcome visitors, find out more here.

Best Friends is also very popular with visitors and volunteers who can’t seem to get enough of the great scenery and interaction with its often adorable residents. Find out how you can volunteer here

It is also a tourist attraction in its own right. Some 30,000 people a year visit the canyon, the highlight of which is a bus tour of the sanctuary and its buildings.

Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Centre, Chengdu, China – the sanctuary for ex bile farm bears which is supported by many celebrities

Moon Bear Rescue China

UK ex-pat Jill Robinson MBE  founded the Animals Asia Foundation when she discovered how thousands of Asiatic black bears were being raised in factory farm conditions on Chinese bear bile farms (the bile is sold for use in traditional medicines). After years of tireless campaigning, the rescue center was established in 2000 following an unprecedented agreement with the Chinese authorities to release 500 farmed bears.

The sanctuary currently houses 250 bears open to the public and visitors travel for miles to see the bears experience freedom after spending decades in tiny crush cages. Animals Asia campaigns are helped by many celebrities including Peter Egan, Ricky Gervais, and Dame Judy Dench. Some iconic residents include Chocolate Tara who was rescued from a tiny coffin-like cage and Jingle who has huge Mickey Mouse ears and a missing paw after being snared in the wild.

Visitors are welcome on regular ‘tour’ days which visitors see the bears close up and learn about the cruelties of bile farming and in normal times the sanctuary received around 3,800 visitors a year. Alternatively, they also offer a virtual tour

They have some openings for volunteers especially for people who have specialist skills, click here for more information. 

Viral Animal Rescue Videos

The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Colorado, USA – a hugely popular sanctuary to visit which is home to the world’s largest elevated walkway

The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Colorado

Located in Keenesburg, Colorado, this is a huge, sprawling accredited, and not-for-profit sanctuary which is designed and built like no other sanctuary in the world. The residents aside, the biggest stand-out feature is the 1.5-mile elevated walkway (the longest in the world) which allows visitors to explore the 10473-acre refuge safely without making the animals stressed. It’s a hugely popular place and usually they 170,000 visitors a year with many saying that would never visit a zoo again after the serene and uplifting experience.

It was started by Pat Craig in 1980 who has helped over 1,000 animals since it first opened and they rescue captive large carnivores such mostly lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and leopards but also alpacas, foxes, raccoons, emus, and horses, who have been abused, abandoned, illegally kept or exploited (it’s estimated that around 25,000 or more wild animals are living in captivity outside the zoo system in the USA alone).

It’s currently home to over 600 rehabilitated animals and some of the residents include Tajah was being kept by chain on her neck in the back yard of a house in Minnesota, Leonardo the lion who was rescued from a small-town zoo in Mexico, and Eva the wolf who was rescued from a private owner in Miami.

The sanctuary is open to visitors throughout the year, check here for more details

They also welcome volunteers check here for more details and animals are also available to ‘virtually’ adopt.

The Voice of Stray Dogs (VOSD), Bangalore, India – one of the world’s largest no-kill dog sanctuaries set up by a Banglore Businessman

The Voice of Stray Dogs (VOSD)

This incredible place is only six years old but it’s already become the world’s largest dog rescue and rehab. The Voice of Stray Dogs is a non-profit organization located in Bangalore, India, and is now home to over 8000 rescues and have organized over 250,000 treatments and they have experience caring for dogs in every kind of distress.

Started by Bangalore animal-loving businessman Rakesh Shukla, the sanctuary is an extraordinary place where all dogs with all sorts of disabilities (some have missing limbs or have grave injuries) are loved and cared for and they are also free to run free heir enclosures, spread over an expansive tree-lined 3.5-acre area and they even have their own swimming pool to cool down in. VOSD is also hugely popular on social media and many of the VOSD videos have gone viral. Dogs you can sponsor include TIGER, a stray dog whose tail was chopped off by a butcher, and Bablu the Doberman who lived a hard life of abuse.

Passing visitors aren’t allowed but they do have very popular Open Days instead.

It is possible to volunteer here, find out more here.

Farm Sanctuary – the original farm sanctuary which has grown into a very influential organization

Farm Sanctuary USA

Founded in 1986 by Gene Baur and Lorri Houston this was the original farm sanctuary in the USA. Today the organization has grown enormously and currently houses over 1000 rescued animals inducing cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and turkeys in their Los Angeles, California, and Watkins Glen, New York state Sanctuaries.

They also run campaigns mostly to advocate for institutional reforms and also encouraging a plant-based living. They are also very influential, for example, it persuaded a New York Burger King outlet to start selling a veggie burger in 1993 and it’s created and sold several best-selling books, has featured in several documentaries. Recent appearances in the news include offering two of 40 cows feeling a LA abattoir a home of the and of course that time Joaquin Phoenix rescued a mother and calf from a slaughterhouse who were then offered homes at the sanctuary.

Visitors are very welcome at their  275-acre sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY State, and at the 26-acre site in Acton, Southern California. Visitors are required to book ahead for the hour-long tours where you can also meet many of the residents along the way and hear about their individual stories. You can also virtually adopt some of the animals.

They also really welcome volunteers and offer all sorts of positions at both their sanctuaries, check here for more details

Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo, Malaysia – one of the world’s most famous animal sanctuaries

Sepilok orangutan sanctuary

Only a few travelers leave Borneo without visiting the famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre and when seeing photos of the impossibly cute residents it’s easy to see why. The sanctuary was founded in 1964 by Englishwoman Barbara Harrison to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans who were mainly victims of the illegal pet trade and logging industry.

The center covers 43 square kilometers in a large virgin rainforest reserve is home to around 60 to 80 orangutans and they are trained to survive in the wild again and released as soon as they are ready. It’s located in a tranquil spot approximately 25 km from Sandakan.

The ticket counter opening times are:

Morning – 9.00am to 11.00am

Afternoon – 2.00pm to 3.30pm

Visitors to Sepilok are able to witness the feeding sessions at 10.00 am and 3.00 pm from a platform and viewing gallery reached via a boardwalk through the lush forest, and later learn even more in the information center. Volunteering at the center is usually arranged by organized schemes.

Visitors are welcomed to the center but handling of the animals is strictly forbidden. A good tip is to time your visit around feeding time.

  • Address: Sabah Wildlife Department, W.D.T. 200, Sandakan, Jalan Sepilok, Sepilok, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Orangutan Appeal UK

Soi Dog Foundation, Thailand – a world-famous organization with a shelter that’s also a popular educational tourist attraction

Soi Dog Foundation Foundation

The Soi Dog Foundation is a famous and very well-respected charity located in Phuket Thailand and South East Asia’s largest rescue organization for vulnerable street dogs and stray cats. Founded by John Dalley in 2003 It’s been running for 16 years from generous donations and global volunteers and as well as running CNVR (Catch; Neuter; Vaccinate; Return) programs the charity also provides sanctuary for stray dogs and cats, medical care if needed, run local and international adoption services and campaign to end the dog meat trade. The sanctuary covers approximately 8.3 acres and they receive around 5,000 visitors a year on average. They treated between 11,000-12,000 (11,657 to be exact) dogs and cats in 2020 and 8873 in 2019.

Visiting opening times are Monday-Friday at 10:00 am and 13:30 pm and Guided tours available Following the 40-minute tour, visitors are encouraged to socialize with the dogs and cats.

Famous visitors include music star Goldie, ‘The Bondi Vet’, Dr Chris Brown, Danish TV and Social Media personality, Linse Kessler, Canadian Home Designer and celebrity designer, Jo Alcon, Thai TV and Social Media personality, Mo Monchanok, Thai model and TV actor, Peter Denman, Thai Singer, Palitchoke Ayanaputra (Peckpalit) and UK singer Will Young and support from Ricky Gervais, Peter Egan, Dame Judi Dench during their Dog Meat Trade Awareness Campaign.

Legendary residents include former stray dog Calyvn who spectacularly recovered from having has an eye and an ear missing and then stole everyone’s hearts.

The Soi Dog Foundation welcomes volunteers to help in many aspects of running the center including help walking dogs. Find out more here.

LiBearty Sanctuary, Romania – the world’s largest sanctuary for brown bears

Libearty Sanctuary, Romania

Run by Millions of Friends Association (AMP) which was started in 1997 by Cristina Lapis, a former journalist from Brasov the sanctuary has been running since 2005 and today it’s a much-loved sanctuary and ethical tourist attraction.

Located in Zărnești, Romania TripAdvisor mentions the “Libearty Bear Sanctuary” among the most beautiful, important, and worth visiting places all over the world. The 170-acre site is set amongst stunning mountain scenery and serves as a home for over 100 brown bears rescued from very abusive circumstances in circuses, zoos, and private owners. Tragically there are some very sad stories here, for example, a female brown bear Ina still paces in circles in an imaginary cage from her time spent in a very cramped zoo and Katia who was forced to ride a bicycle in a circus where she also beaten and forced to live in a very tiny space.

Visitors are very welcome here and are guided by the very popular tours. During the winter schedule (from 1st November to 30th April), the sanctuary can be visited between at 11 am and 12 pm, while the rest of the year the visits can start at 9 am until 11 am. Call ahead if you’re visiting outside the high season. Alternatively, you can watch the residents via a live feed and the bears are also available to virtually adopt.

They welcome volunteers from all over the world through Oyster Worldwide who also arrange accommodation, transfers and weekend trips for volunteers.

Gut Aiderbichl, Austria and Germany – Europe’s largest animal safe haven for rescued animals 

Gut Aiderbichl Austria

Gut Aiderbichl is a popular and very special farm set in an idyllic location in the mountains of Henndorf am Wallersee in Austria. The sanctuary – which has been open since  200 – rescues a large variety of animals, including farm animals that were due to be slaughtered (cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.), also ponies from equestrian sports (and riding schools), former broodmares heading to the slaughterhouse, horses rescued from the circus and stray dogs from Romania and abandoned dogs from Austria. They also rescue and provide sanctuary for cats, camels, deer, squirrels, foxes, and even former laboratory animals including ex-lab dogs, monkeys, and the methadone pigs. Currently around 6,000 rescued animals live at Gut Aiderbichl.

Founded by Michael Aufhauser, Gut Aiderbichl farms are distributed around Europe, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Romania, and Hungary, and farms you can visit are Henndorf in Salzburg, Deggendorf near Passau in Germany, and Iffeldorf near Munich in Germany.

The opening hours are from 9 – 18:00 daily all year round and since 2003, the three visitor farms have welcomed over 3,500,000 visitors. Interaction with the animals is allowed with the residents who want to be petted. Recent residents include Lien the cow who escaped from the slaughterhouse on Christmas Eve and now lives happily at the slaughterhouse.

They’ve welcomed artists, actors, politicians and world-famous visitors include Roger Moore, Pamela Anderson, Leona Lewis, Gerard Depardieu, Hugh Grant, Alain Delon, Andie McDowell, Linda Tellington-Jones, Christine Davis, Larry Hagman, David Hasselhoff, and Franco Nero.

They also welcome volunteers over the age of 15.

The Donkey Sanctuary, Devon, UK – one of the largest equine charities in the world

Donkey Sanctuary Devon England

The Sidmouth donkey sanctuary is an English national treasure and a popular family day out. It was founded by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE in 1969 when her donkey enthusiasm turned into a full-blown rescue center when she saw some ill-treated donkeys at nearby Exeter market.

Slade House Farm was purchased to house her fast-growing family of four-legged friends and since then 14,500  donkeys have passed through the sanctuary’s doors and is one of the largest equine sanctuaries in the world. The site is 134 acres but they also help donkeys all over the world through various programs.

Admission is free and many people come to see the previously neglected or abused donkeys living happily in the picturesque Devonshire countryside. Popular residents are Tiny Tim is the Harry Houdini of the donkey world who can remove his rug without even undoing the straps and Benji the super-cute miniature donkey.

The main headquarters of the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon is open to the public 365 days a year from 9.00 am to dusk with free admission and parking. The charity estimates that more than 200,000 people visited the site in 2009.

They also welcome volunteers find out more here.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, NY state, USA – a very popular farm sanctuary to visit which has its own onsite guest accommodation

Woodstock Animal Sanctuary

Founded by in 2004 Jenny Brown and Doug Abel Located in Woodstock, New York the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary rescues farmed animals who are most commonly exploited, abused, and killed in animal agriculture. This includes a wide range of chickens, pigs, ducks, sheep, goats, and cows. Doug is a film editor and Jenny has previously worked for ABC, PBS, and Discovery Channel.

Located just two hours north of New York City the sanctuary now spans 150-acres and they’ve rescued thousands of animals over the years. Even during the pandemic they still managed to rescue 81 animals. Famous residents include a special needs duck named Kiwi who was part of a school hatching project but then discarded and has made headlines due to her receiving custom wheeled prosthetics that help her move around and also her determination to overcome adversity!

The sanctuary is open to visitors and they are currently offering ticketed tours every Sunday of the month, at 10 AM and 12 PM EST. Visitors should purchase tickets ahead. People also have the option of booking a private tour on Fridays or staying at the on-site inn The Gray Barn, which includes a tour with each stay. Interaction isn’t actively encouraged but allowed if the animals want to participate as well!

They usually receive an average of 10,000 visitors per year and famous guests include Alicia Silverstone, Rob and Sheri Moon Zombie, Alan Cumming, and Joe Gatto!

They also welcome volunteers, find out more here. Volunteers can also stay at the on-site inn The Gray Barn

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane, Australia – the famous rescue center for those cute marsupials

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Founded in 1927, the Lone Pine sanctuary, Brisbane is the world’s oldest and largest Koala rescue center. A beautiful natural woodland reserve, the internationally famous and eternally popular sanctuary which covers 18 hectares and also offers a home to sick, injured, and orphaned koalas as well as other animals including kangaroos, native Australian birds, and platypus.

The stars of the show though are the 130 koalas which call this place home, and you can hold one any day of the week. You can also watch them at feeding time and will probably be surprised to see how fast the koalas move when the gum tree leaves are brought out!

Open seven days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm the sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction and in normal times receives thousands of visitors each year.

It’s also possible to volunteer, find out more here.

Born Free Primate Sanctuary, South Texas, USA – the largest and most respected monkey rescue in the USA

Born Free Primate Sanctuary Texas

This is well regarded and highly respected sanctuary who always puts the welfare of the residents first. Located in South Texas and run by the international charity Born Free the original inhabitants were a troop of snow monkeys who arrived in Texas from Japan in 1972 and today it’s one of the largest primate sanctuaries in the USA spanning over 1186 acres. They house over 600 monkeys and 11 different species including macaques, baboons, and vervets. Many have been rescued from appalling and abusive situations in roadside zoos, pets in private homes, and even from animal experimentation. They provide exceptional large free-ranging environments and just one of the enclosures is over 50 acres.

The sanctuary isn’t open to the public to put the welfare of the primates first but the primates are available to ‘virtually’ adopt and some potential adoptees include Oscar the former laboratory monkey that had never stood on grass before and Anna who was rescued from a squalid roadside zoo.

They also sometimes have openings for volunteer positions.

Fondation Brigitte Bardot, Mare Auzou, Normandy, France – the sancatury run by the world-famous former actress

Fondation Brigitte Bardot

Founded by one of the world’s famously beautiful and kind-hearted models, since 1992, the foundation has been recognized as a “public utility”. This France-based animal refuge houses more than 1,100 animals: dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, sheep, cows, birds, rodents in the beautiful French countryside in Normandy. The animals here are rescued, are adopted or free to stay in this cage-free safe haven until the end of their lives.

They welcome visitors (please contact them beforehand), potential adopters and volunteers please enquire here.

Animal Kingdom Foundation, Philippines – a shelter and charity set up to combat the dog meat trade in the Philippines

Animal Kingdom Philippines

Founded in 2002 by animal lover the late English expat Charles Leslie Wartenberg, The Animal Kingdom Foundation has a center based in the Philippines which rescues dogs from the meat trade and a pretty gruesome fate. The charity was formed after a month-long surveillance by animal advocates Greg S. Quimpo and Veterinarian Samaniego and they now work to fight against the illegal meat trade after realizing thousands of dogs in the Philippines get caught up in it every day.

They set up a no-profit, no-kill dog shelter dedicated to saving abandoned, neglected, abused, and slaughter-bound dogs. The shelter is the biggest dog sanctuary in the country (around 2 hectares) and have over 240 dogs and cats combined and they have also helped other animals in the Philippines, including battery hens. Legendary rescues include Buboy, the stray dog who became viral on social media for patiently waiting by the door of his dead master’s college faculty room, and has been immortalized with his own statue several months after he passed on.

They welcome animal-loving visitors and the dogs are also available for adoption to good homes.

They also welcome volunteers please apply here.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Borneo – aims to protect the future of the world’s smallest and least-known bear

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

If you’re in Borneo visiting the Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation center then also don’t miss this non-profit organization in Sabah which started by wildlife biologist Wong Siew Te in 2008 which is located right next door. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre aims to improve welfare for the sadly much-abused Malayan Sun Bears and also rehabilitation too. Sun Bears are often trapped, kept as pets, or in the horrific bear bile trade. To date, there are about 43 rescued ex-captive sun bears residing at the center, and will help them get back to the wild when they are ready.

Operating hours: Daily including public holidays (9.00 am to 3.30 pm),

Visitors are very welcome at the sanctuary and will have to chance to see the bears chilling out in their enclosures.

In normal times they welcome all volunteers, apply here.

Hillside Animal Sanctuary, UK – one of the most popular sanctuaries to visit in the UK 

Hillside Animal Sanctuary, UK

This very well-known vegan-run sanctuary is located in Frettenham Norwich and was founded in 1995 to help and campaign for animals in need and also to raise awareness about the horrors of the intensive factory farming industry. It’s one of the UK’s largest animal sanctuaries and covers over 1000 acres and providing a home to 2500 horses, ponies and donkeys, 300 cows, 600 sheep and goats, and 150 pigs many of which were rescued by the farming industry. Residents include Charlie, an elderly pony stallion who was starved and kept in a shed for many years, and Teddy the gorgeous highland cow who has an exceptionally large set of horns!

The sanctuary is a very popular visitors attraction and runs many open days and offers some volunteer positions which seem to get filled very quickly so best to keep an eye out on their jobs page.

They also offer self-catering accommodation. 

WildCat Ridge Sanctuary, Oregon, USA – one of the few accredited not-for-profit wild cat sanctuaries in the USA

WildCat Ridge Sanctuary USA

WildCat Ridge Sanctuary is one of the few accredited not-for-profit wild cat sanctuaries in the USA. Founded in 2001 by Michael and Cheryl Tuller and located in idyllic scenery in Scotts Mills, Oregon they provide a natural and very large (4,000 acres) safe haven for over 80 residents mostly captive-born wildcats but also other animals such as hybrid cats and rescued farm animals too.

They have a strict policy to never breed or sell their animals and rely on donations to fund their expenses instead. Some of the residents include two lionesses that escaped the clutches of Joe Exotic (from the notorious Tiger King fame) and Nora the white tiger who was rescued from a life of posing for tourist photos.

Although WildCat Ridge Sanctuary is not usually open to the public they’ve joined AirBnB Experiences to offer behind the scene tours for groups of 2 to 4 people find out more here. Residents are also available to virtually adopt. 

They also welcome volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, apply here. 

Animal Aid Unlimited, India – India’s groundbreaking sanctuary set up by two married US travelers

Animal Aid Unlimited, India

Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU), does some great work in Udaipur city of Rajasthanwas, India. Founded in 2002 by Jim Myers, Erika Abrams, and Claire Abrams-Myers the organization spans 3 acres rescue and treat a wide range of animals that are sick, injured, stuck or in need of urgent medical aid and attention including dogs, cows, bulls, donkeys, cats, birds, and even pigs. Their helplines receive an average of 69 calls per day and in just one year they rescue around 13,775 ownerless animals from Udaipur and nearby villages as well as running important vaccinations programs.

Legendary residents include two-legged dog Princess Leonie whose sweetness is locally famous, Horse, who can’t hold his tongue in his mouth and it drapes along with him wherever he goes, Baby Boy, an enormous bull who loves to snuggle and a gorgeous dog named Deepak, who lost most of his limbs when hit by a train, but who loves to rumble and cuddle.

They accept visitors and usually receive around 3500 visitors a year.

Opening times are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They also welcome volunteers and volunteers are placed in positions according to their comfort and experience level. They want to ensure everyone who comes has a chance to give and receive, care and love with the animals.

Alaqua Animal Refuge, Florida, USA – a large animal rescue set in picturesque surroundings which is very popular with visitors

USA Florida Animal Rescue

This is a popular animal refuge set up in 2007 and located on a picturesque 10-acre farm in Freeport, Florida not too far from beautiful beaches. They offer a sanctuary for abused, neglected, and homeless animals including rescue dogs, cats, emus, donkeys, horses, pigs, goats, birds, rabbits, and even turtles. They also provide an adoption program, educational outreach, and community programs and will soon be opening a 100-acre site as well. So far they’ve saved over 25,000 animals so far. Legendary residents include Champ their first mini-horse and has since become a superb ambassador for the refuge.

They welcome visitors are will be open noon-5 and Wednesday to Sunday and animal interaction is allowed.

They also welcome volunteers, apply through here.

Agra Bear Rescue Facility, North India – the largest Sloth Bear Rescue Facility in the world

Sloth Bear Rescue India

Two major animal charities (One Voice, France, and Wildlife SOS) helped fund a sanctuary in 1999 for ex-dancing sloth bears in Agra, North India which is located just a few kilometers north of the famous Taj Mahal. The initiative was such a success that by the end of 2009 many of the dancing bears forced to dance on the streets of India for entertainment had been rescued. After their harsh and often brutal treatment, the bears recover in large enclosures complete with freshwater bathing pools, climbing frames, and other tools of environmental enrichment. Today they currently house over 130 sloth bears as well as many other species of wildlife in the large forested area.

Visitors can tour the sanctuary by email or phone in advance to book one of the three-time slots. 

Wildlife SOS accepts volunteers, please find out more here. 

El Refugio del Burrito, Malaga, Spain – the Spanish subsidiary of UK The Donkey Sanctuary

El Refugio del Burrito Spain

Located in the tourist resort of Malaga, Spain El Refugio del Burrito was founded in 2003 and is actually of the first European subsidiary of the famous UK based The Donkey Sanctuary, They aim to ‘achieve a world where donkeys and mules live without suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued’ and helping save the lovely animals they also work to improve animal welfare laws and promote awareness and responsible ownership. They have saved over 1000 donkeys over the year and around 280 currently reside at the sanctuary.

Their sanctuary was a former farm traditional Spanish cortijo (farm), complete with a charming olive grove and traditional buildings, and spans nearly 10 acres. It provides a safe haven for donkeys that previously had a very tough life and before the pandemic received an average of 15,000 visitors a year. Some of the quicker residents include a mischievous miniature donkey Leon who was rescued from Naples Zoo and Manolo Garboso a neglected former passenger donkey who was recused by a German Princess.

In normal times they allow visitors daily and can meet the residents and learn all about their stories. They also welcome volunteers in non-lock-down times. Donkeys are also available to adopt remotely.

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, Canada – a small but popular family-run farm sanctuary

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

Pioneers of the farm sanctuary movement in Canada, Siobhan and Peter Poole have been running this small sanctuary with help from their two children. since 1999. The rescue is located just outside Stratford, Ontario and has rescued hundreds of animals, including pigs, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, cats, and dogs. In addition to providing a home for animals, they also have re-homed many animals by working with other sanctuaries and no harm hobby farms across Ontario. They also run a battery hen rescue every September that has saved hundreds of ex-battery hens from slaughter, as well as a sheep rescue in 2011 that kept 32 research sheep from going to slaughter. 

They welcome visitors on open house days or bi-weekly work visits and usually receive around and 1,000 people a year. They have previously welcomed Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, bestselling author of 12 books visiting our sanctuary, including The Pig Who Sang To The Moon. We also welcomed Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows. Interaction with the animals is allowed with supervision and some of the stand-out residents include Hugo the potbellied pig, whose smile will warm your heart, Luna the fainting goat, who will not leave your side, Joaquin the pig, who was accidentally stepped on when he was just days old and only had one good leg and Charlie a giant steer who has sadly now passed but was unofficially the world’s tallest steer.

They accept volunteers through their popular bi-weekly work visits.

Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage, Australia – the small and unique rescue which has many celebrity endorsements

Josephine's Gallery and Kangaroo orphanage

This is a special place in Australia which mixes art with saving animals! Established in 2008 by married couple Josephine and Terry Brennan-Kuss here you can visit Aboriginal Art Gallery as well as meeting orphaned kangaroos and other wildlife such as Wombats, Birds, and Lizards. At the small gallery/orphanage they save kangaroo’s from the far north of South Australia (which is roughly the size of Germany) and have saved many hundreds over the years. One world-famous resident is Bella. Google kangaroo detects skin cancer and you easily find out about Bella and her special talent!

They welcome visitors (best to call ahead), and the orphanage has such a great international reputation it’s seen the likes of Freddy Flintoff, Anthony Mundine, Dick Smith, the commissioner of police and various politicians walk through their doors. Interaction with the animals is allowed under their supervision.

They also actively seek volunteers through Helpx.net or Workaway and food and accommodation is provided.

Animaux en Péril asbl – an influential organization who run three shelters across Belgium

Animaux en Péril asbl Belgium

Literally translated into Animals in Danger and founded in 1993, this is one of the most important animal protection associations in Belgium. They run three shelters across Belgium which permanently house over 500 animals including 280 large mammals such as cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, pigs, and goats. They also fight for improvements in Animal Welfare laws and help prosecute people guilty of animal mistreatment in court.

In 2019 one of their videos featuring a very neglected pony with extremely overgrown hooves went viral gaining nearly 1.8 million views. Other rescues on their YouTube channel include Lucy the candy stealing rescued pig who is one of the stars of the shelter.

The shelters are popular with visitors and are open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visit is free they just ask you to respect the space of the residents.

They also accept volunteers contact them for more details.

Animal Rescue Algarve, Portugal – a new shelter which is already a very popular place to volunteer

Animal Rescue, Algarve

This is a fairly new rescue which was set up by a resident English businessman in 2017 with the aim of caring for and helping to rehome stray, abandoned and distressed dogs and cats (but they also help other animals such as rabbits, pigs and sheep). The rescue is set in five acres of forested land in a beautiful valley just northwest of Loule and they have rescued over 740 animals in 3 years and currently140 animals reside in the shelter.

We are open every day, in the summer from 7.30 am till 8 pm and 8 am till 5 pm in the winter. They usually receive around 750 annual visits and count several politicians, sports organizations, schools groups, scouts and charitable associations as some of their visitors.

They welcome volunteers and can offer accommodation for up to 18 volunteers at a time and interaction with residents is allowed and encouraged to help the animals too. You can apply through the Workaway platform (where they won Best Host of The Month).

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya – a pioneering conservation organization for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Kenya

This internationally famous Trust has been rescuing and hand-raising orphaned animals since 1977. Located in Nairobi Daphne Sheldrick they have been rescuing and hand-raising orphaned elephants and rhinos, so they can return to a life in the protected wild when grown. They’ve also helped orphaned giraffes, antelope, hippos and ostriches as well and The Trust has successfully hand-raised 263 orphaned elephants and 17 rhinos so far. Legendary residents include

Maxwell is a blind black rhino who loves taking naps, mud bath and bananas, Bondeni an orphaned and very charming elephant who loves to play football. Many orphans have such a strong bond with their caregivers and have successfully been released into the wild choose to return on occasions to say hello!

In normal times, the Nairobi Nursery is open daily from 11am – 12 midday to the visiting public. Visitors can watch the orphans from a distance as they enjoy a milk feed (hand-feed by their caregivers) and play in the mud bath. Famous visitors include politicians and celebrities alike over the years including; Gisele, Demi Lovato, Ellen DeGeneres.

Friendicoes SECA (Society for the Eradication of Cruelty to Animals), India – a much-loved rescue in Delhi that has been running since 1979

Animal Sanctuary India

Friendicoes SECA (Society for the Eradication of Cruelty to Animals) was established in the year 1979 and has been serving the city of Delhi in the field of Animal Welfare for thirty-five years by managing hospitals and shelters for sick, abused, abandoned, and distressed animals in the city of Delhi and also run a lifetime care sanctuary in Gurugram, India and covers 22.5 acres.

They rescue all sorts of animals such as dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, and camels and typically rescue 35,000 animals each year and neuter 6,500 each month, and run a mobile clinic to help 2,500 equines. Legendary residents include Blindy the dog a blind former stray who loves to greet visitors at the door, Billo the exceptionally friendly cat, and Heera the neglected and abandoned thoroughbred horse who was trembling in fear and pain when they found her.

The internationally famous WildlifeSOS is an arm of Friendicoes SECA India and was founded by Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani in 1995 with an aim to protect Indian wildlife and work towards eradicating cruel practices such as dancing bears.

They are open to visitors (in non-lockdown times) and usually receive around 10-15 visitors per day. Visiting hours are from 10 AM to 6 PM and interaction is allowed. Famous visitors include Paul O’Grady and several Bollywood actors and Television personalities. They also accept and welcome volunteers and usually receive them from across the globe.

Zealandia, Wellington, New Zealand – a world-class conservation ecosanctuary success

Zealandia New Zealand

Formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Zealandia is a beautiful protected natural area in Wellington, New Zealand. Running since 1995, it’s a fenced eco-sanctuary, where animals aren’t rescued but here a safe environment is provided so native wildlife such as native birds, reptiles, insects, and aquatic species can survive and through in a natural predator-free fenced area. It’s home to 20 rare and endangered wildlife species and covers 556 acres. Stand out residents include Tuatara and takahe – species that haven’t evolved in thousands of years.

They are open for visitors and is a very popular tourist attraction in Wellington usually receiving 140,000 a year. Famous visitors include Stephen Fry, Helen Clark (ex NZ Prime Minister), Boris Johnson, Peter Jackson, the Polish president, Jane Goodall, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, President of Sri Lanka and Bill Bailey.

Opening times: 9 am – 5 pm for general admission with the last entry at 4 pm. They offer after-hours tour products. Interaction with the animals isn’t allowed.

They also welcome volunteers and have over 500 active volunteers so it’s also a great way to meet like-minded people.

Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) – a well-regarded animal rescue where traveling volunteers are welcome

Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA)

Started by American ex-pat Janice Girardi, over 30 years ago, this important organization responds to alerts via their 24-hour hotline of any animal in distress from cats and dogs to Civit cats (who are often cruelly treated for the civet coffee trade) and snakes to dolphins. They also have a special focus on Bali’s Heritage Dog which is at risk from the dog meat trade. As well as rescuing and responding to animals in distress in Bali they also help with neutering strays, feedings street animals and campaign against the dog meat trade.

Instead of a shelter, they foster out the animals, and then permanent homes are then looked for. It is possible to volunteer here though mostly with their street dog feeding but they also welcome people with veterinary skills. They also have many dogs available for adoption.

Bear Sanctuary Prishtina, Kosovo – gives formerly private-kept and abused brown bears a happy life 

Bear Sanctuary Kosovo

After negotiations with the Kosovan authorities to support the long-term care of bears who had been illegally kept, The Four Paws Bear Sanctuary Prishtina, Kosovo opened its gates in 2013 when Kassandra the first restaurant bear was confiscated by the authorities and transferred to the sanctuary.

Today the sanctuaries spans 10 hectares and offers a near-natural habitat home to 20 brown bears that have been rescued from the illegal pet trade or life as ‘restaurant bears.’ Thanks to their work no bears have been kept in captivity by private owners since 2014. Residents include Kassandra who was rescued from a tiny cage near a restaurant who now plays with her best friend Vini and Andri who was once kept in a small wooden box in a basement and is now inseparable from his girlfriend Lena.

Opening Times

Between April to October: 10am – 7pm

Between November to March: 10am – 4pm

The sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction and in normal times they receive approximately 40,000 visitors per year.

Prior to the pandemic, the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina organized a two-week work camp for volunteers through an established EU volunteer program. Volunteers spend the night in tents and really enjoy the outdoor experience. 

Mexico Playa Animal Rescue – a no-kill animal shelter popular with traveling volunteers

Mexico Playa Animal Rescue

Sadly Mexico has many stray dogs and this non-profit, no-kill animal shelter was set up in 2011 to help as many as possible. Located in the popular vacation area of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, they rescue and rehabilitate injured and abandoned dogs, and do their best to find permanent, loving homes for each of them. Recent rescues include Mali was hit by a gas truck and left to die and Vaquita one of 8 gorgeous puppies who were born under a car.

Visitors and adopters are welcome by prior arrangement.

They are also actively seeking volunteers find out more here

The Vervet Monkey Foundation, South Africa – a center for rehabilitation, education and sanctuary for vervet monkeys

Vervet Monkey Foundation, South Africa

The Vervet Monkey Foundation in Tzaneen, South Africa offers homes to orphaned, injured, ex-laboratory, or unwanted pet Vervet and Samango monkeys. The sanctuary (established in 1993 by Dave Du Toit) is a 23-hectare rescue, educational and rehabilitation center as well as being a popular tourist attraction.

They started with just one monkey now have roughly have 580 in their care. They help save around 30 orphans per year and a number of casualties that are returned to the wild, they also have a special enclosure for blind and disabled monkeys. Some residents include Floki a popular and very cute baby orphaned monkey and YouTube favorite, Fiona an endearing double amputee. The foundation also runs a weekly youtube series, and the foundation has been featured on a number of TV shows.

The sanctuary is open to visitors by prior arrangement and pre-pandemic they received an average of 150 visitors a year with guided tours also offered.

Volunteers are welcomed from all over the world and basic accommodation and vegan meals are provided in return for help with everyday activities.

Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, Rome, Italy – the famous Rome tourist attraction for animal lovers

Torre Argentina cat sanctuary Rome

This is a famous Rome institution and a must for all feline-lovers, this is where hundreds of cats live happily among the historical ruins of the important archaeological site, Torre Argentina a place where Julias Caesar was once murdered! Since the 1990s, the population has steadily grown to around 250, and they also care for sick or wounded cats, as well running spay/neutering programs. Most of the more permanent residents have special needs—such as being blind or missing limbs or have come from abusive homes.

A very popular tourist attraction visiting hours are Sun – Sat 12:00 – 18:00

They also welcome volunteers and potential adopters.

Zarkovica Animal Shelter, Dubrovnik, Croatia – a hilltop rescue popular with visitors and volunteers

Zarkovica Animal Shelter Croatia

Founded in 2001 by a group of kind-hearted volunteers, their aim was to close a horrific kill animal facility in Dubrovnik. They achieved this aim the group rescued the remaining animals and worked hard to adopt them all over Europe. In 2004 they built a new shelter on a space on a hill named Žarkovica. The Žarkovica Animal Shelter in Dubrovnik Croatia houses is run by kind-hearted local Sandra and is now home to over 300 dogs, 300 cats, birds, and other wildlife.

They welcome and are actively seeking volunteers please apply here.

Bear Sanctuary Ninh Binh, Vietnam – home to over 30 former bile bears

BEAR SANCTUARY Vietnam

Set up in 2017 by the International animal welfare charity Four Paws and covering over 3.5 hectares this sanctuary helps mainly Asiatic black bears, rescued from the horrific bear bile or illegal wildlife trade. Even though the production of bear bile and trading in bear products are forbidden by law in Vietnam, the very cruel bear bile farming and illegal bile extraction still take place. They currently have 40 bears at the refuge by they plan to increase the space to 10 hectares, so they can then house up to 100 bears. Some of the residents include Sang who has lighter fur and a missing paw from when she was caught in a trap and Sang rescued from horrific conditions and a tiny cage in a bile farm, she now happily plays in the water with her friends.

In normal times the sanctuary is open to the public on regular occasions and received approximately 3,000 per year.

They welcome volunteers by application find out more here.

George Stray Dogs Shelter, Greece – started by a kind-hearted local who has been rescuing animals for over 20 years

George Dog Shelter Crete

Kind-hearted George Orfanidis has been helping and rescuing animals in Crete since 1991 and has managed to save dogs (and also rescued cats, goats, and even hedgehogs) on a shoestring budget. He has a small shelter and around 100 dogs on-site and also pays for the food to feed an additional 50 street strays. Legendary residents include Lucky Luke the salami king who is a whippet cross but with bandy front legs, he’s such a unique and happy character he even has his own Facebook page. Also Dias the Greek Shepard who is the ‘shelter boss’ and Tommy the mixed breed who was found in a terrible condition and now lives with George.

The shelter isn’t easy to access but they accept visitors by arrangement and of course they very much welcome adopters! Interaction with the dogs is allowed for adults (but wear old clothes as the dogs jump up and compete for treats).

Volunteers are also very welcome at the shelter.

FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, Netherlands – specializes in the intensive and specialized care for traumatized and abused big cats

FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary, Netherlands

This is a Four Paws project located in  Nijeberkoop Netherlands founded in 2014. Here they provide a home and special care for rescued and traumatized big cats who were previously forced to live under poor conditions such as circuses, private keeping, and war-torn zoos. As space is limited here the sanctuary acts as a ‘special care’ sanctuary for big cats with physical or mental traumas. In the past few years, they have taken two tigers from Syria, three lions from Bulgaria and three lions from Albania.

The sanctuary is only for special events based on appointments.

Check out their website for Volunteering and internship programs:

Assisi Animal Sanctuary, Northern Ireland – the rescue named after the patron saint of animals

Assisi Animal Sanctuary Ireland

Founded in 1997 and aptly named after the Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals this is Northern Ireland’s largest independent animal welfare charity, the sanctuary provides a safe no-kill refuge for over 700 a large variety of companion animals each year including dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, rabbits, and guinea pigs with the aim of rehoming as many as they can. Popular residents on social media include Ollie the rescued gorgeous Newfoundland dog and Percy and Betsy the bonded pair of very cute rabbits.

They accept visitors and potential adopters by prior arrangement and are actively seeking volunteers, find out more here.

SOSD Singapore – dedicated to the welfare of Singapore’s street dogs

SOSD Singapore

Operating for 9 years the organization was set up by a group of kind volunteers in response to the large-scale culling of our strays dogs in Singapore due to the rapid urbanization. They help homeless and abandoned dogs, mostly stray dogs in Singapore, affectionately known as Singapore Specials. They have rescued than 1000 dogs so far, averaging 120 a year and the shelter is approximately 420 sq meters.

In 2019 they hosted shelter tours for schools, tertiary institutions, societies, and private organizations and also 16 public tours reaching out to about 400 members of the public to raise the profile of its canine residents and to raise awareness of the plight of Singapore’s stray dogs. Notable visitors include Our Minister of Law Mr Shanmugam, and Minister of National Development Mr Desmond Lee.

Stand out residents include “Our Four Heaven Kings – Godfather, Remy, XiaoHei, XiaoBai”. They were known as the Untouchables because were aggressive when rescued but were soon healed with love! Only Remy and XiaoHei remain at the shelter today.

They are unable to receive passing visitors but volunteering is welcome and they have 200 people volunteering already. They also welcome potential adopters by prior arrangement.

Dancing Bears Park Belitsa, Bulgaria – a peaceful haven for formerly abused brown bears and a popular place to visit

Bulgaria Dancing Bear Sanctuary

Founded in 2000, covering 120,000 square meters and located near Belitsa in southwest Bulgaria this is a very popular sanctuary that houses 19 bears and was founded as part of a Four Paws charity. It was started to provide a safe haven for the former dancing bears in Bulgaria (there were over 20 bears still being forced to perform in Bulgaria and Serbia at this time).

Four Paws decided to help and with the help of the French Brigitte Bardot Foundation, established the Dancing Bears Park Belitsa as a permanent location for housing these rescued bears. Although now they also rescue bears from private keeping. Stand-out residents include Dobry a formerly abused wrestling bear who is now blind but lives happily at the rescue mostly eating melons and Teddy an orphaned cub who was rescued from terrible conditions in a zoo.

Opening times are April-June: 12 – 6 pm

July – August: 10 am-12 pm and 1-6 pm and this place is hugely popular and receives over 39,000 visitors per year.

They also welcome volunteers and can provide simple, yet comfortable accommodations to a limited number of volunteers. 

The Sato Project, Puerto Rico – an animal rescue and charity founded by a British-born traveler

The Sato Project Puerto Rico

Founded British-born Christina Beckles in 2011 The Sato Project is an animal rescue and protection organization set up to help rescue, abused, and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico. They have rescued over 5,500 dogs and have spayed over 7000 dogs and cats. They also run a very successful adoption program and have successfully homed many of the dogs in homes in the USA.

It’s not a rescue that can be visitors as the dogs stay in a private veterinary clinic but they do welcome volunteers on an ad hoc basis which allows people to fly in for, such as a week or day-long community vaccination or spay/neuter clinics.

Farm Allegro Sanctuary, Switzerland – a former working farm turned no-kill sanctuary

FARM ALLEGRO SANCTUARY, Switzerland

Previously run as a farm it turned into a small sanctuary in 2014 and now they give a home for life in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland to many sheep, horses, cattle, and they are lovingly cared for. The sanctuary is located in Gampel and Jeizinen and they also grow organic apples on the site too as well inviting school classes groups to give the children the opportunity to experience the animals in their natural surroundings. They have saved more than 200 animals so far.

They have about two main opens day a year and sponsors can visit their adopted animals prior by arrangement at any time of the year. They typically receive around 100 visitors per year and interaction with the friendlier animals is allowed.

They also accept volunteers, head over to their website for more information.

The next 50 sanctuaries…

51. Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, Darjeeling, India – Sittong Khasmahal, West Bengal 734008, India

52. Monkey World Ape Rescue, Dorset, England – Tout Hill, Longthorns, Wareham BH20 6HH

53. Refuge Animalier de l’Arche, Château-Gontier, France – 13 quater Rue Félix Marchand, 53200 Saint-Fort, France

54. Ippoasi Pisa, Italy – Via Livornese, 762, 56122 SanPiero a Grado (Pi), Italy

55. The Little Farm Rescue, USA – Machipongo, Virginia, USA

56. Catherine’s Puppies, Sai Kung, Hong Kong – 7, Tai Lam Wu Rd, Hong Kong

57. Walking Wild Rescue, USAGranville, Ohio, USA

58. Buttercups Goat Sanctuary, Kent, UK – Wierton Pl, Boughton Monchelsea, Maidstone ME17 4JW

59. SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary, Michigan, USA – 17901 Mahrle Rd, Manchester, MI 48158, United States

60. Freedom Hill Sanctuary, Brinkley, South Australia – Chaunceys Line Rd, Brinkley SA 5253, Australia

61. Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary, Arizona – 980 W Lenora Way, San Tan Valley, AZ 85140, United States

62. Seal Sanctuary Cornwall, UK – Gweek, near Helston, Cornwall TR12 6UG, England

63. Kanda Farm Sanctuary, Indiana, USA – 7502 W State Road 26, Ambia, IN 47917, United States

64. Skydog Sanctuary Wild mustang and Burro Rescue 23823 Malibu Rd Ste 50357 Malibu CA, USA

65. Colombia AnimalLove FoundationZipaquira Vereda Barro Blanco, Colombia

66. Arthur’s Acres Sanctuary, NY State – 89 Ahrens Rd, Parksville, NY 12768, United States

67. Poland Na Paluchu Shelter WarsawPaluch 2, 02-147 Warszawa, Poland

68. Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, Colorado – 81503 E Yale Ave, Deer Trail, CO 80105, United States

69. Animal Sanctuary Tangier, Morocco – Tetouan Road, Tangier, Morocco

70. Big Island Farm Sanctuary, Hawaii – 93-1280 S Point Rd, Naalehu, HI 96772, United States

71. The Farm Animal Sanctuary, Evesham, UK – Farm Manor Orchard, School Ln, Evesham WR11 8LN

72. Iowa Farm Sanctuary1696 250th St NW, Oxford, IA 52322, United States

73. Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter Foundation, Budapest, Hungary – Hungary 1171 Budapest, Csordakut street

74. Animal Aid Ovacik, Turkey – Ölüdeniz, Hıdır Kuyusu Cd, 48340 Fethiye/Muğla, Turkey

75. Broome Animal Sanctuary, NY state, USA – 315 NY-145, Middleburgh, NY 12122, United States

76. HopeField Animal Sanctuary, UKSawyer’s Hall Farm, Sawyers Hall Ln, Brentwood CM15 9BZ

77. Enchanted Farm Sanctuary, Oregon – 21830 NE, OR-240, Newberg, OR 97132, United States

78. OTOZ Animals, PolandRzemieśłnicza 2, 84-207 Bojano, Poland

79. Lancaster Farm Sanctuary1871 Milton Grove Rd, Mount Joy, PA 17552, United States

80. Koycegiz Dog Shelter, Turkey – Ulucami Mh, 48800 Köyceğiz/Muğla, Turkey

81. União Zoofila, Lisbon Portugal – Alto das Furnas, R. Padre Carlos dos Santos, 1500-901 Lisbon, Portugal

82. The Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary, North Carolina – 307 Bacon Rd, Rougemont, NC 27572, United States

83. Koki Animal Sanctuary,- Slovenia 

84. Home for Animals, GermanyHeimat für Tiere – Neue Zeit e.V. Johannishof 197834 Birkenfeld, Germany

85. Vucjak Shelter – Čumić, Serbia, Serbia

86. Pigs Peace Sanctuary, Seattle, USA – 27631 56th Ave NW, Stanwood, WA 98292, United States

87. HundStallet, Stockholm, Sweden – Åkeshovs gårdsväg 10, 168 38 Bromma, Sweden

88. Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary – 3470 Co Rd 7, Erie, CO 80516, United States

89. Mino Valley Sanctuary, Spain – Galiza, Spain

90. Last Chance Rescue RomaniaTargu Mures, Romania

91. Foreverland Farm, Ohio, USA –  2885 Lindale-Mt Holly Rd, Amelia, OH 45102, United States

92. Oinking Acres Farm Rescue & Sanctuary, Indiana  USA- 8420 N County Rd 650 E, Brownsburg, IN 46112, United States

93. Koeienrusthuis Cow RescueLeemweg 10, 8389 TL Zandhuizen, Netherlands

94. Hungry Horse Outside, Ireland – Currygranny, Newtown Forbes, Co. Longford, Ireland

95. Edgar’s Mission, Australia – 81 Bridies Ln, Lancefield VIC 3435, Australia

96. Sunrise Sanctuary, Ohio – 16730 Martin Welch Rd, Marysville, OH 43040, United States

97. Possum Valley Sanctuary210 Kingston Rd, Mount Helena WA 6082, Australia

98. Rolda Animal Shelter, Romania – South East Romania

99. Catskill Animal Sanctuary, NY State, USA316 Old Stage Rd, Saugerties, NY 12477, United States

100. The Swan Sanctuary, Middlesex, UK – Felix Ln, Shepperton TW17 8NN

 

With special thanks to all the sanctuaries for their help with this article. Please #adoptdontshop

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a special fondness for Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland.

36 Comments

  • Kate

    5 October, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Hi all….I am thinking of spending some time volunteering. Where should I start? Which one is the best in your opinion preferably in Central and South America.
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Becky Moore

      25 October, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      Try Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, Protecting Animal Welfare Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society (Belize) Sibu Sanctuary or Animal A.W.A.R.E. in Guatemala.

      Reply
  • Frank

    12 December, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I’m happy to see you recommend an elephant sanctuary in Thailand other than Elephant Nature Park (which every other blogger mentions). There are other sanctuaries/foundations out there and they need support as well so appreciate seeing light shed on them. We’ll check them out next time in the area.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    Reply
  • Katie

    17 November, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Great list!! I’ve been to BLES and it was such an incredible experience. Well worth the extra effort and research it took to make more of an impact too.

    Reply

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