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>  Volunteer Projects Asia  >  Zoo Assistant Malaysia

Zoo Assistant Malaysia 

Travel to Malaysia and help out the zookeepers from £950 per person

Get involved and improve orangutan living conditions by travelling to Zoo Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's national zoo, to help out the animal keepers there. Standards in zoos in Malaysia and much of Asia are not what we are used to at home but support through volunteering can assist the efforts being made in Malaysia to improve the conditions of captive animals to an internationally well regarded level – and you can be part of it! 

You’ll be working with and learning about animals such as orangutans, Malayan sun bear, chimpanzees, camel, elephants, tigers and much more as you help out at the zoo. Through activities such as creating enrichment, zoo assistants stimulate the animals by improving living conditions and gain a firsthand insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of working in a zoo. Zoo Negara houses more than 470 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The zoo’s long term objective is to develop into a world-class zoo and is in the midst of making changes to their systems and protocols. 

Volunteers may also be asked to design and work on small construction projects to improve the dens or enclosures of selected animals. This may include assisting in building new exhibits and extensions or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture or painting. There is also an education centre and library at the zoo where volunteers learn as much as possible about the animals and you may be asked to guide and talk to school children about them. You will have the weekends off, giving volunteers plenty of time to explore colourful Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas. 

This is undoubtedly a rewarding and fun volunteer project suited to all animal lovers who are keen to learn about exotic animals with the bonus of being based in an amazing location.


Project Summary

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Peninsular Malaysia

Duration:14 days & 28 days

Start Date: 5th of every month for 28 days and the 22nd for 14 days
July 2013: fully booked
September 2013: fully booked
October 2013: fully booked


Day 1 (5th or 22nd of each month)

Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) OR Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). Please ensure you have provided us with the correct flight details and correct airport. 
Meet at airport for transfer to twin share accommodation. 
18.00 – Welcome dinner and briefing. Please check with receptionist to confirm meeting time.

Day 2
After breakfast, transfer to Project Site: Zoo Negara. 
When you arrive at the zoo you will meet your programme facilitator who will show you to your accommodation and then take you on a short orientation. You will be given a thorough health and safety talk, a tour of the zoo and then you will go shopping for food etc.

Day 3 - 13
Working hours at Zoo: 08.00 – 17.00 
Days off: A total of 2 off days will be allocated throughout the programme. You may choose to explore other parts of Malaysia at your own expense or stay at the volunteer accommodation

Day 14
Check out and transfer to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) OR Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). 
Optional: independent travel to Kota Kinabalu or Turtle Islands 

Note: Changes to the activities will occur subject to weather conditions, school calendar, community and project requirements. Some or all of the above activities may or may not be included on your itinerary. Other activities not mentioned above may also be included on your itinerary subject to weather conditions, community and project


At the Zoo

At the Zoo, your role is to assist the zookeepers in their daily jobs of cleaning cages, zoo compounds, feeding the animals and preparing enrichment activities for great apes, especially orang-utans and a variety of other zoo animals.
Interacting with the Malaysian animal keepers by working alongside them allows you to understand the conditions they work in, gain insight into the "behind the scenes" of working in an zoo and a chance to improve the living conditions of captive animals in the zoo.
It is advisable to do some research into animals and their behaviour in the wild before arrival. It’s true what they say – the more you put in, the more you are likely to get out of the experience!
We greatly appreciate volunteers coming up with new enrichment ideas; just imagine how it will feel, watching an animal with your enrichment and being able to say, "I thought of that". Though you must always check with the animal keeper or programme facilitator before imple

Listed below are some of the activities you may be involved with whilst at the zoo:
This involves cleaning cages and feeding. You will rotate working with different animals depending on the needs of the zoo, the keepers, or the animals themselves within the primates or ape section as well as in other sections. Cleaning is vital to the zoo as better hygiene helps to prevent disease.

The idea of enrichment is to stimulate the animals and improve their living conditions as much as possible to mimic their natural habitat. Some sample activities are: 
- Provide leaves in cages for bedding and nesting purposes 
- Put branches from fig or fruit trees in their homes to observe behaviour 
- Rope work – make this fun and varied for the animal 
- Hiding food around cages to encourage foraging behaviour

You may be asked to design and work on small construction projects to improve the night dens or enclosures of selected animals. This may include assisting in building new exhibits and extensions to improve the zoo facilities, or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture or painting. 

There is an education centre and library at the zoo. Volunteers should learn as much as possible about the animals and you may be asked to guide and talk to school children about them.


Working in a country where zoo standards are not very high, you will visibly see the positive impact your work at the zoo has on the captive animals. By working alongside Malaysian zookeepers you will witness the positive modifications made so far to upscale animal welfare and the continuing efforts to maintain and continue these improvements in various aspects.

The project’s strength lies in its unique collaboration of government, NGOs, communities, conservation organisations or individuals who exchange knowledge, advice and ideas towards environmental conservation in Malaysia. The projects vision is: improve the welfare or orang-utans in captivity or in the wild through enrichment or habitat restoration.


What is the accommodation like?
You will live in a volunteer house in the grounds of the Negara Zoo itself. It is a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms. Rooms are dorm style with 2-4 volunteers sharing.

Does the accommodation have access to the internet?
The accommodation does not have internet but the nearby township has internet cafés that are within walking distance.

How much spending money would you recommend I take?
We generally recommend that you take around £70-£80 per week.

I am a first time traveller, and a bit apprehensive about travelling on my own. Do many people do this by themselves
The majority of our participants are solo travelers, so you will be one of many in the same position.

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