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Wild Cats

The sanctuary hosts a variety of big cats, including lions and tigers. The focus is on conservation education and, specifically, the plight of large predators in captivity. At the sanctuary you get to work with these magnificent creatures and also to educate children from the local community about them.

Wild Cats


Location Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 4 weeks
Dates All year round
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: An honest desire to help animals and a true love for animals
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Sunday


  • Work up close with a large variety of wildlife.
  • Make a difference to animals’ lives.
  • Volunteer in the heart of the Garden Route.
  • Choose from amazing activities for your free time, such as Bloukrans Bungy (the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump), waterfall Zipline, elephant & snake sanctuaries, wine estates, skydiving, whale watching, swimming with seals, adventure boating, kloofing, kayaking, etc.
  • From the accommodation, you are transferred daily to the projects Monkey Sanctuary, Wild Cats and Birds of the World. It is therefore possible to combine any of these projects.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

The Wild Cats project was established in 2005 in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. The project was relocated to bigger premises on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay by mid-2013 and since then it has become a must visit attraction for the “big cat” enthusiast visiting the beautiful Garden Route.

The project is home to big cats such as lions (white and tawny), cheetahs, tigers (Siberian, Bengal and white), leopards (spotted and black), jaguars, pumas, caracals, serval cats and other wildlife species such as zebra, wild dog, springbok, zorilla, honey badger, raccoons and various snake species (which are housed separately).

At Wild Cats the main focus is on conservation education and specifically the plight of large predators in captivity in South Africa and all over the world. “Big cats” are extraordinary animals with a dangerous beauty that is both awe inspiring but also fearsome because of their power and ability to kill. The Wild Cats approach is one of respect for what each animal represents and they have a personal bond, built on respect and love, with each of the animals living at the sanctuary. The project believes that each animal should be treated as an individual with his/her own unique personality and needs. 

Wild Cats provides the predators that live at the sanctuary, for the duration of their natural lives an environment where they are respected and cared for, physically and emotionally. The harsh reality is that no predator that has been exposed to human interaction over a period of time can ever be returned to the wild. However that doesn't imply that they can be exploited by unethical wildlife facilities by allowing animal touching/petting or any other practise where these animals are exploited for human greed and financial gain.

Your Role

Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 17.00.

A possible work schedule could be:

08.00 - Arrival at the project. You assist the permanent staff to set up the curio shop for the day. Then you go and clean the racoon enclosure and feed the rats.

09.30 - Coffee break (some volunteers may already have gone on tour with paying guests).

Lunch - It is not to be taken at a pre-determined time as you need to take lunch when the situation demands.

9.30 to 16.00 - Volunteer’s daily duties will vary depending on sanctuary needs and the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of the volunteer. Duties may include:

  • Escorting guests to the main reception and giving information/answering any questions.
  • Depending on your aptitude and willingness to learn about each of the animals, you may be able to conduct guided tours in your mother tongue and/or English.
  • You will assist the staff with food preparation.
  • Fixing fences.
  • Cleaning.
  • Filling water bowls.
  • Assisting the animal keepers and managers in observations of animal behavior and welfare.
  • Cutting down trees.
  • Maintenance of walkways and general areas ensuring all dustbins inside and outside of the sanctuary are clean, picking up any papers etc.
  • Welcoming guests to the reptile enclosure and answering any questions. 

16.00 to 17.00 - Close of day and heading back home.

PLEASE NOTE: At no time will the humanisation of the animals be allowed as the project is clinical in their "Hands off" approach towards the animals.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.


You will live in a backpackers based in The Crags, a rural suburb of greater Plettenberg Bay. The backpackers is set in a 5 hectare small-holding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures. You are accommodated in shared rooms and/or in under-cover luxury Safari bow-tents that come fully equipped with carpets, beds, linen, electric blankets, lights etc. You will, where required, be sharing with one or two other volunteers. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. The main homestead is equipped with an office, TV lounge, two kitchens plus a large verandah, with a residents’ bar, and two fire-hearths for those chilly nights. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy. Immediately adjacent is an outdoor braai (BBQ) area, while close by, is a combination plunge pool/hot-tub (the latter fired up for Fridays) plus a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track where guests soon get to know their co-guests. Bedding and towels are provided and your laundry will be regularly done on a wash and fold basis by the housekeeper. Free WiFi is available at the main homestead area only.


Camila from Brazil


"It was amazing to work at this project, see big cats every day and work with them, it's a great experience. I really felt useful there and had the feeling I was really helping the animals. The worst part was leaving there, but for sure I'll come back."

Giovanna from Brazil


"I would like to thank Good Hope in general for this amazing experience! I couldn´t have asked for a better two weeks trip, not only was working at Wild Cats simply amazing, but also activities like zipline tours, safaris, elephant sanctuaries and sightseeing through Plettenberg Bay made my weekends so much better than I could ever hope for! In the accommodation I made friends from all over the world and despite of the distance between us all, I know I will remember all of them forever! I definitely intend on joining this amazing experience again, if not with the same project, with a new one so I can learn even more! I will be forever grateful for all the help and the opportunity Good Hope provided!"