A famous saying in the acting world goes “Never work with children or animals”, but then, what do actors know anyway? Some of the most rewarding and life-affirming experiences can be had working with the furry, feathery, scaly and slimy. Here are the top reasons to consider making your volunteer placement a real walk on the wild side.
- Every Day’s a School Day
However much you paid attention in Biology class, nothing can prepare you for just how weird and wonderful nature can be. From the bizarre and wonderful courtship displays of birds of paradise to the knowledge that sleeping sea otters hold hands with each other, there is an infinite supply of amazing things to learn about animals.
- Learn More About People
Everyone knows that cats are selfish; dogs are loyal and so on. Or at least they think they do. Only when you start spending time with different individual animals will you begin to appreciate the individual personality differences between one animal and another. Getting to know the personality traits of an animal that can’t speak with you might even help you to relate to other people better too!
- Animals Are Good For Your Soul!
For years, people have speculated about the mental health benefits of pet, and in particular dog, ownership. Dogs and humans have lived together for around 15,000 years, making this particular relationship a strong one indeed. There’s nothing quite like stroking a pet to calm the nerves, but alongside age-old anecdote, genuine academic studies in recent years have found that having a pet really does increase self-esteem and reduce loneliness.
- Make a Career
If you’re considering a career in biology, zoology or as a veterinarian, having a bit of first-hand experience in dealing with animals can only help you to make that final decision. If you still want to go ahead after your volunteer placement, the unique experience you have gained will help you to stand out ahead of other candidates for work placements and job interviews.
- Make a Real Difference
One of the greatest things about a volunteer project based around animal welfare is that you can often see the benefits of your hard work in a relatively short time. Unlike long-term development projects, where your contribution will be important but you may not see the end results, animal welfare projects can offer the chance to help a sick or injured creature and see it rehabilitated during the course of your placement.
- Pictures That Make Everyone Go “Aaahh!”
There’s no denying that some animals make everyone around them go all soft and squishy inside. Back home you might be limited to cute puppies and kittens, but just imagine how jealous you can make your friends when you post those incredible pictures of you on a tropical beach working with baby sea turtles or seals!
- Get Over Your Squeamishness
If there’s one thing that’s pretty much guaranteed when working with animals, it’s poo. Lots of poo. Whether it’s cleaning out the kennels or dealing with unwashed strays, you’re pretty certain to get involved with the squelchier side of life. If you’re easily grossed out, it’s a great opportunity to pull on the rubber gloves, get stuck in and get over your phobias!
- Have Fun
Animals can be charismatic, funny and loving. Whether it’s playful primates or knock-kneed kids (not the human kind!), spending time around animals is bound to be a blast most of the time; I mean, how many people get to say they spend all day looking out for some of the cutest critters on the planet?
What’s not to love?
With so many good reasons to volunteer with animals, why wouldn’t you consider it? As long as you can put up with the messier side of the job, there are few better ways to develop your skills, learn about yourself and have a great time while getting to see a bit more of the world.
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