Hear From Our Volunteers
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Hear from our Interns
Veterinary Science student – Final Year
"Overall, and I think all the others volunteers can say the same, these weeks were some of the best and happiest of my life, and I will never forget this experience, it was incredibly enriching on so many levels".
As a soon to be vet that always dreamed about working with wildlife, it was a struggle to figure out how to get started. I learnt very little about non domestic animals in university so I was always looking for places where I could volunteer during the holidays to improve my knowledge and gain experience. It was a lucky strike to find Cheetah Experience.
As volunteers we clean the enclosures, help with the feeding, and help with a number of other chores depending on what is necessary at the time.
As a vet intern, I was also allowed to follow the resident vet around and help her with whatever she was doing. This gave me a great perspective of what the most common health problems are that affect big cats and what the medical challenges of working with them entail. These animals are the ones I've been most passionate about my whole life. Being so close to them and understanding their instincts and personalities was a huge step for me.
During my time I was able to help with the sedation, blood draws and collection of DNA samples from all the cheetah cubs as well as observe the sterilisation of our female African Wildcat, Melody. I helped check and treat a couple of lame springboks at another farm. Additionally, I was able to closely follow Eden, one of our beloved cheetahs who is fighting renal failure. Her case took us to the University of Pretoria, to help with her diagnosis and treatment.
I have to thank to all the staff that have allowed me to do everything that I did and make this experience possible.
Overall, and I think all the others volunteers can say the same, these weeks were some of the best and happiest of my life, and I will never forget this experience, it was incredibly enriching on so many levels.
"I found a family at Cheetah Experience. The tight circle of community and feeling really accepted and appreciated were so wonderful. I felt like I was doing work that really mattered and really counted."
I am a student at Becker College in Massachusetts, USA, studying Animal Care and Management. I am about to enter my second year. I also own my own pet service business, called Waggie Maggies. I mostly pet sit, walk dogs and do some dog training.
I came to Cheetah Experience because I needed to fulfill a 150-hour long externship placement for my program. Most people stayed home working at grooming salons and doggie day cares, but I wanted to do something more special, more worthwhile, and more about my passions and interests. I was in South Africa in 2013, working at a similar project, Cango Wildlife Ranch, and fell in love with the work, the animals, and the country. I was waiting for an opportunity to come back, and this externship was the perfect reason. I came to Cheetah Experience by chance. I found it on the Internet, because I was looking for a new experience. My externship required me to find a placement that I had never been to. And it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It was as wonderful as my last placement, and even more. I found a family at Cheetah Experience. The tight circle of community and feeling really accepted and appreciated were so wonderful. I felt like I was doing work that really mattered and really counted.
My favourite thing was creating bonds with the animals and having really close, one-on-one time with them. I love that we were put to work straight away, and even though it was hard work, at the end of the day, coming back to the Volunteer House (and in the end, coming back home), I felt like my time was really well spent and it felt really rewarding. I also really liked the connections I made, the friends I made with both the staff and the volunteers.
I was able to complete a previous mission with something I felt I truly cared about and wanted to make a lifetime connection with. I had previously begun a volunteer project with a zoo in Guatemala, and I had raised funds for the work. Unfortunately, the placement was a disappointment, and I didn’t stay there. I didn’t want to put the funds into this institution, as I felt it would be throwing it away. So I saved the funds for two years, for another animal project that was worth it. During my stay at The Cheetah Experience, I realised that this was the place. I want to make this a lifelong commitment, too: To help The Cheetah Experience and keep coming back to visit and volunteer. I want to keep developing my relationship with The Cheetah Experience because I plan to eventually start an animal preservation project, using The Cheetah Experience as a mentor and a model.
The love and caringness of the place. Everything is done with thought and caring. Being able to do tours really, really helped me with my own understanding of the lives of the animals in Africa and the threats to them. It was a gift to me to give these tours. At first, I was nervous, and I can’t say that I ever was 100% comfortable, but I feel that it was an opportunity that really taught me a lot.
I like giving tours and educating others about animals and growing my own understanding and knowledge of animals.
It’s made me think even more about what I want to do and what I really love to do. Being home in Boston makes me really miss the work at CE. Having to go to school again makes me really miss the work -– the hands-on, the wholeheartedness of it, the meaning of it. And the animals at CE are the species I really love. I really like pets (what I have in Boston), but I love the wild species at CE and really want to spend my time with them and educate people about them.
Hear from our Global Volunteers
"I think volunteering at Cheetah Experience has been the best choice I've made. It's changed the course of my life for the better and I'm now pursuing a career working with animals."
My biggest passion in life in animals and their wellbeing, and it's been my dream to work with animals for a long time. I came to Cheetah Experience for five weeks to fulfil that ambition. Being able to work closely with such amazing animals and give my time to a great organisation to help the animals was the perfect solution.
Some of my favourite experiences were giving the animals enrichment and the daily feeding. I also loved getting to know the other volunteers and working as a team. I've made some special friendships with people from all over the world! That's one of the great things about volunteering.
I can't wait to come back to Cheetah Experience. I love the work, the animals, the people there and everything I get to be a part of and experience. It's a place that I instantly felt at home in and didn't want to leave. Whilst at Cheetah Experience I learnt so much about the importance of animal conservation and increased my knowledge about all the different breeds and how to look after them.
I think volunteering at Cheetah Experience has been the best choice I've made. It's changed the course of my life for the better and I'm now pursuing a career working with animals. The weeks I spent at Cheetah Experience are some of the best I've ever had, and I have so many amazing memories to take with me.
"You get a lot of time to think and get to know yourself better and so I would say it changed me into a better person. Cheetah Experience makes people happy and I think thats the best impact something could have on you."
After my high school graduation i really wanted to work with big cats since I have always admired them. I found Cheetah Experience online and immediately fell in love with other volunteers' stories.
I faced how seriously endangered cheetahs are and how to actively act against it. Same with lion canned hunting and the killing of leopards. You learn many interesting facts about different animals' threats in the wild and also how to handle them whilst in captivity. We also had a really fun group of volunteers and some awesome nights at the local bar and club.
Just walking over to the farm and seeing all these lovely animals is so relaxing! You get a lot of time to think and get to know yourself better and so I would say it changed me into a better person. Cheetah Experience makes people happy and I think thats the best impact something could have on you.
"The volunteer program at Cheetah Experience is set up so that volunteers can work together and get to know each other in a good atmosphere. Programs like those at Cheetah Experience with its extensive and knowledgeable staff, along with the help of volunteers, can make a difference with animal conservation."
I came to Cheetah Experience because I wanted to do something important while traveling in South Africa. I found out about Cheetah Experience by checking internet websites such as TripAdvisor and Youtube. I wanted to work with cheetahs after watching a documentary on the world's fastest animals and seeing that the cheetah is endangered.
At Cheetah Experience I had some great experiences that I will not soon forget. The animals that I enjoyed the most were the leopard and cheetahs. I also enjoyed meeting and working with volunteers from other countries. The volunteer program at Cheetah Experience is set up so that volunteers can work together and get to know each other in a good atmosphere.
I learned many things about animal conservation while volunteering here. I learned more about the need to take steps to help prevent the extinction of cheetahs and other endangered species. Programs like those at Cheetah Experience with its extensive and knowledgeable staff, along with the help of volunteers, can make a difference with animal conservation. I also learned that it takes a lot of effort and a lot of food to take care of these animals. I think that Cheetah Experience does an outstanding job at taking care of the animals in its care.
"Working with like-minded people for the benefit of these animals makes me happy. It's nice to know there are people out there who care so much about animals."
In the space of two years I have been three times and will be back again. Some of the animal’s change, some of the staff change and pretty much all the volunteers change, but the whole feel/vibe of the place remains the same. People are here for the good of the animals. The animals come first. We will take them for an enrichment walk if THEY want to go. Everything is done for the sake of the animals. The staff there are fantastic and put in long hours, all for the animals.
Some of the best experiences I’ve had have been sitting down and having one of the animals, be it cheetah, leopard or meerkat, come up to you because they choose to. The trust the animals have with you. Working with like-minded people for the benefit of these animals makes me happy. It's nice to know there are people out there who care so much about animals.
Hear from our Volunteers for a Day
Peace Corps Volunteer, Lesotho
"I unfortunately only had one day of volunteering, but it was a day that I'll never forget.One thing that stands out for me is the deep connection the volunteers and staff seem to have with the animals. It's almost as if the animals and humans are one big family at the Cheetah Experience."
I heard about Cheetah Experience through word of mouth. Some of my friends in the Peace Corps had volunteered and had wonderful experiences.
I decided to come to Cheetah Experience to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures on Earth. I unfortunately only had one day of volunteering, but it was a day that I'll never forget.
One thing that stands out for me is the deep connection the volunteers and staff seem to have with the animals. It's almost as if the animals and humans are one big family at the Cheetah Experience. If I had to point to one specific memory, it would definitely be when Shakira, the alpha wolf, licked me on the face, welcoming me into her pack for life.
Hear from our Local Volunteers
"Here at CE I have found new meaning in what it means to make a difference. CE is a place where you learn to trust and to be trusted. It is a place with a positive atmosphere to learn new things and skills."
As an animal lover, I was following Cheetah Experience for some time on Facebook. It was clear that Cheetah Experience looks after their animals with a passion and love that I can relate to. So in December of 2013, I decided to join the Team and started as a part-time volunteer. In July of 2016, I started as a full-time local volunteer.
What won my heart is the trust and respect that the animals showed me. The “Team Spirit” under the staff and volunteers are so great. For me the best moment is WHEN I DRIVE THROUGH THE GATE IN THE MORNINGS… Cheetah Experience feels like home!!!
I have learned that what you bring to the animals is what the animals will give back to you. Every day I learn amazing interesting things of all the different species of animals. I was not aware how endangered the Cheetah is and all the problems these cats have to fight to survive. Animal conservation was just a word to me, but since I am involved at Cheetah Experience it turned into a reality.
Over the years it changed my outlook on life. I realise that there is more to life than making money. I have lost my way in the rat race of making a living. Here at CE I have found new meaning in what it means to make a difference. CE is a place where you learn to trust and to be trusted. It is a place with a positive atmosphere to learn new things and skills. It is a place where you get to change people’s mind for the fight of the Endangered Big Cat Species Survival.
Cheetah Experience has given me a direction in life, and has also given me a new perspective on how animals are being treated all over the world, and that I can do more to help animals."
I have been at Cheetah Experience for three years now. I came to Cheetah Experience in July of 2014. I was a little lost in life and was looking for a start to my life. I have a love for animals and espcially cats. So working at Cheetah Experience was ideal for me.
One of my best experiences at Cheetah Experience is when I spent the evenings outside under the stars with the cheetahs Faith and Eden, as well as the caracal, Saturn. Also I really do love staying in the lion house as being able to hear the sounds of the animals through out the night, looove it. Meeting the volunteers is also an experience that I will never forget. Making friends all over the world, and learning so much from other people has given me a new look at life, and how I see the world.
In the term of conservation, I have learned a lot. It is surprising how little the world knows about conservation. I never knew about the Canned Lion Hunting industry before I started at Cheetah Experience, how endangered Cheetahs were or that Tigers were being hunted for bones. To people who don't work with animals, they know little about how endangered certain animals really are. Cheetah Experience has given me a new look at the world of wildlife and Conservation.
Cheetah Experience has given me a direction in life, and has also given me a new perspective on how animals are being treated all over the world, and that I can do more to help animals. Cheetah Experience is more than just a project, its a family and home for any person.
"I learned so much on how important conservation is that it convinced me to direct my future career towards helping animals and saving them from the dangers of the world."
I always had lots of love for animals , so as a birthday gift someone paid for me to volunteer here. I absolutely fell in love with this project as soon as I arrived the volunteers, animals staff was all so friendly. I made wonderful friends which I still keep contact with and get to make plans on reunions and travelling around.
I learned so much on how important conservation is that it convinced me to direct my future career towards helping animals and saving them from the dangers of the world. I have made wonderful bonds with the animals that also helped me a lot grow more confident and grow into a better person. I was always anxious when it came to talking and being social with people , but since I came to Cheetah Experience I improved so much that I now can talk to people with no problem and even give tours to groups over 20 or more people!