A Guide to Visiting Animal Sanctuaries Around the World

Posted on Mar 31 2020 - 5:45am by Katie Tejada
Sloth in animal sanctuary

Swimming with dolphins, riding horses, or hanging out with sloths: these are just a few items that might be on the bucket list for an animal lover. Fortunately, for those of us willing and able to travel, this dream can become a reality on your journey abroad in a way that’s not harmful to the species or animal itself. 

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries defines an animal rescue or sanctuary as a facility that provides care and protection for wild and domesticated animals. While some organizations are entirely rehabilitation-based, others provide lifelong care for the animals in their charge if release is not a viable option. Many sanctuaries are locally run and operated by those who aim to promote the welfare of not only the individual animals but the entire ecosystem as well.

Animal Sanctuaries Around The World

The world is full of wonders. For some, it’s the people, plants, and wildlife that amaze and intrigue the most. Many sanctuaries work to conserve threatened and endangered species while offering life-changing opportunities to interact with these animals.

Costa Rica alone has several highly rated animal sanctuaries that offer protection for wild and domesticated species. It’s common for sloths, exotic birds, and monkeys to be found in sanctuaries such as the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, Jaguar Rescue Center, or Osa Wildlife Sanctuary.

“There are many amazing animals in Costa Rica,” Alfred Decarolis, the owner of Casa Teresa, said. “For visitors, seeing these species thrive right before your eyes imbues you with respect for the work and a desire to help—even after you leave.”

If you happen to be in Australia or New Zealand, you’ll find opportunities to pet, swim with, or feed several species unique to the Land Down Under. Between ziplining adventures, helicopter tours, and local cave explorations, there are an enormous amount of animal sanctuaries to explore. In Australia, try out Featherdale Wildlife Park or Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, or in New Zealand, try out Zealandia.


In Japan, the island of Tashirojima has become not only a sanctuary for cats but a paradise for them as well. Cats are fed and taken care of by locals and visitors alike on an island that celebrates their quirks and usefulness. To this day, people still pray at the local shrine dedicated to a former feline resident of the island.

On a different island in Borneo, Indonesia, Tanjung Puting acts as a national park and prominent orangutan sanctuary. Various species of plants and other animals are protected here from deforestation. The park is open to the public and serves as an educational hub for the local environment. Guests can spot rare birds and unique plants, as well as feed orangutans. 

Travelers stopping in Croatia will discover numerous national parks, each offering a different experience. A few of these island parks require a boat ride to access them. While there aren’t many opportunities to interact directly with the protected wildlife here, exotic animals such as zebra and elephants can often be spotted on safaris around the parks.

How You Can Help

When animal lovers see a furry, scaly, or feathered friend in need, their instinct is to help. However, this is a task that should be left to the experts who understand the effects that one touch can have on an animal. 


Rescues are proof of this. But in order to maintain quality care, many sanctuaries rely on donations and the volunteer efforts of locals and travelers with a soft spot for animals. 

For those with wanderlust and philanthropic tendencies, there are several volunteer destinations that allow you to travel the world and lend a hand to elephants, sea turtles, and everything in between. Volunteers can assist with cleaning, feeding, and other helpful services benefitting the sanctuary’s animal population.

For recuperating animals, a healthy diet is important to improve an animal’s well-being. Whether it’s man’s best friend or nature’s fiercest predator, nutrition is vital—especially in rehabilitation cases. Proper funding provides the necessary resources needed for the animals in their care. 

Participating in animal tourism and donating are just two options that allow you to support animal sanctuaries. Whether you’re handling these animals or watching them from afar, it’s important to leave things as they are. Tread lightly during your visits to some of the most beautiful and exotic animal sanctuaries around the world. The animals there will thank you for it.

Katie Tejada

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About the Author

Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and travel enthusiast. With a love for adventure and the great outdoors, she enjoys writing about various places, events and destinations, but also covers other topics as well, including real estate, finance, and law, among others.