Conservation Travel Africa participant surveying the field Conservation Travel Africa participant surveying the field

Zimbabwe Animal Sanctuary

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience


  • Program Administration


  • Living Situation


  • Community Impact


  • Health and Safety


  • Social Life


Raising a baby vervet monkey

My whole experience on this project was amazing, but the most rewarding part was helping rescued animals get back to full health and fitness and being able to release them back into the wild. I loved getting hands on with all sorts of different animals and all the staff members were absolutely lovely.

A week after I arrived, a one week old vervet monkey was brought to the sanctuary. Its mother had been killed by a car, but luckily a passerby saw the baby and brought it to us. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this wee thing, he was so small and fragile and you could see how scared he was. As soon as I saw him, I knew I was going be hooked, I was so lucky when I was told that he was going to be mine to look after for the remaining six weeks of my time at the sanctuary. He needed a name, so me being Scottish, it just had to be Hamish and it suited him perfectly.

He slept in my room, I got up in the morning, fed him, put him back to his bed for some extra sleep while I prepared food for all the other animals at the sanctuary. Once they were fed it was straight back to Hamish for another feed. Then it was playtime but it was more of a learning experience for him as he was so unsteady on his feet and didn't know how to do anything - he really needed his mother. As the days went on he got stronger and a lot braver. He went everywhere with me - clinging to my t-shirt or just me carrying him round wrapped up in his wee blankets.

It was such an amazing experience watching him grow up for the six weeks I was with him. The first time he climbed a small tree, I cried with joy when he got to the top and when he got there he started screaming because he didn’t know what to do now he was up the tree. Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I cried for a good hour and didn’t want to let go of him, he didn’t want to let go of me either, I put him down on the sofa, turned and started walking away, he screamed and ran to me and just attached himself to my leg and did not want to let go and as you can imagine – yes that just made me cry even more.

His picture takes pride of place in my room so I can still see him every day and I get regular updates and pictures of him from the project. And of course I plan on returning to see my boy all grown up!