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Travellers Worldwide is a leading International Provider of Voluntary Projects and Work Experience Overseas



Volunteering, Gap Year or Career Break in Sri Lanka

Work with a variety of animals in a Zoo in the capital city of Sri Lanka. Here you'll assist in trying to raise the quality of life of the animals by improving the enclosures and keeping the animals mentally stimulated.

This project is for animals lovers and people who don't mind hard work and getting their hands dirty.

At time of writing, there are 12 elephants, many different primates and chimps, hippos, giraffes, bears, seals, zebra, snakes, crocodiles, antelope, fish and various other animals. There is also a lone Orang Utan and an aquarium.

List of ALL PROJECTS in Sri Lanka  List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa 

Price From £895, excluding flights.
Please see Full Price List / Other Currencies
Duration From 1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Requirements No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm, initiative and ideas, and the ability to be very proactive. Minimum age 18.
What's included Arranging your Programme,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance

Meeting you at Colombo airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Transport to and from your project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Free T-Shirt.
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport.
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in some conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
Suitable if you want to learn about the care and habits of wildlife in a zoo environment, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or a short break activity.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and the fascinating culture of Sri Lanka

  • The satisfaction of helping captive animals and knowing that your efforts made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

Work starts early because a lot is done before opening time at 8.30. Below is a summary of current and potential work at the Zoo. 

  • Much of the work involves cleaning out the animal cages so that they're kept comfortable and healthy. This usually takes place between 7.00 a.m. and 9.00 a.m., before the Zoo opens - therefore, you need to be capable of early starts!

  • Cleaning and feeding the primates

  • Washing down the enclosures and refilling the animals' baths

  • Feeding some animals (excluding any of the dangerous ones, such as crocodiles and possibly the big cats).

  • Behavioural observation, plus on occasion caring for sick animals.

  • Preparing the food

  • Gardening to maintain the surroundings.

  • Helping to build the children's play area.

  • here are opportunities to learn about the different species and what is involved in animal care in a third world country.

  • Although you'll help care for and feed some of the animals at the Zoo, your work with any big or dangerous animals will only be undertaken under close supervision.

  • You will learn about enrichment programmes and implement projects of your choice ranging from building a hammock for the monkeys to stimulating the environments of the bears through food/smell enrichment techniques to rebuilding whole enclosures for the animals.

Your presence at the zoo will make a real difference to the lives of some of these captive animals. Any hands-on contact with the animals will depend entirely on whether there are young or tame animals at the Zoo during your placement. There are times when the majority of work takes place behind the scenes in Zoo-keeper duties, observation, DIY work and enrichment projects.

"There were various 'favourite' bits during the placement, including the bathing and scrubbing of the elephants in the pond at the zoo using a coconut shell. Where else would you be able to do something as amazing as that? However, for me, the hand feeding of the male hippo was the most exciting part - being that close to something usually deemed so dangerous! Also, during our free time we got to release some baby turtles back into the sea - one of those things that makes you feel so good inside - the work they are doing there is so selfless in a country that has so little money - it is very humbling. Overall, the closeness we got to the wildest of animals was something I will treasure forever." Mandy Whitten

Other work duties may include the opportunity to help the local staff with their English so that they can better converse with tourists, visitors and international Zoological experts.

The Zoo also needs to have the general information signs for visitors reproduced in good, accurate English, particularly signs which advise the public on how to treat the animals, warnings against littering (because the animals can choke on litter), feeding the animals, etc.

You may also be asked to make yourself available in the Zoo grounds to answer general questions from Zoo visitors. These questions could be things like, “Can you tell me a little bit more about the chimpanzee,” “Where does the Orang Utan come from?” etc.

Our project in Colombo Zoo has been running since 2002 and during this time, progress in improvements has been slow but steady, with lots of enclosure enrichment projects adding new elements to the quality of the animals' lives. When you apply for this project, we'll give you lots of ideas and suggestions for enclosure enrichment that you will be able to become involved with, or you may even be able to instigate your own ideas for projects that will improve the animals' quality of life.

“I'm thoroughly enjoying it and one of the high lights so far was being able to watch a giraffe giving birth! it was an amazing experience and well worth sitting in the rain for 4 hours for. Sounds like madness but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity that we weren't going to miss.” Helenour Duke

The conditions in which some of the animals are kept are not very good and can be distressing. We have seen many improvements as a result of our volunteers' work, but we hope that in time our volunteers can make even more effective contributions to the animals’ welfare and have a positive influence on the conditions under which some of them live.

You'll need to have patience with cultural differences. It can take a long time to get anything done and the speed of your progress may be halted by such things as language barriers, unexplainable delays and the general slow pace of the other local workers at the zoo. This is all part of the experience so please appreciate what you will come to know as ‘Sri Lanka time’ and work with it the best way you can.

"I am having the most incredible time here at the zoo. It is something that is very much changing my thoughts and perception of things."  Henal Chotai

Volunteer Jennie Elliott with the leopard cub - fast asleep!


You'll live in a quaint bungalow in a residential area surround by lush Sri Lankan landscape in the Gampaha region. The bungalow is airy and is typical of the modern styling of Sri Lankan houses. The bungalow can comfortably accommodate more than 6 volunteers, whilst still allowing you to keep a sense of having your own space. The bungalow has living and dining area and plenty of outdoor areas, including a garden, making it the perfect setting for sociable evenings with the other volunteers or reading a book in peace in tropical surroundings.

Travellers' Volunteer Coordinator, Niranjala, lives in a separate close by, with her family. Many of our past volunteers who have stayed there have commented that the place offer the opportunity to get fully immersed in the wonders of Sri Lankan culture. Niranjala is a very chatty and extremely friendly and always gets the volunteers involved in her lively community activities.

You will have all necessary facilities such a comfortably furnished living area with TV and DVD player in the lounge area. Sri Lanka is a great place to buy DVD’s.

You will likely share your room with one or more other volunteers. The bedrooms are basic but comfortable. Bedrooms normally have single beds, mosquito nets, a clothes rack, and a ceiling fan (some rooms have standing ‘pedestal’ fans only). Bedding in Sri Lanka is very basic and for some reason sheets never seem to be large enough to tuck in, so you may want to consider bringing your own bed linen with you (sheet/pillowcase).

Although we supply bed linen, towels aren't provided! You can either bring your own with you or buy one from a local shop. A tip about washing your clothes – Sri Lanka has a red dust which gets into everything – with your white washing being most at risk – you have been warned!

Facilities include shower, sink and western toilet. The showers are cold water showers here I’m afraid – it can be quite refreshing first thing in the morning before the water tank has been warmed by the sun - although with the climate being predominantly hot and humid for most of the year, taking a shower can be great way to cool off after a day spent in the Sri Lankan sun.

"I just wanted to let you know, that I had the time of my life in Sri Lanka. It was FANTASTIC, I wish the entire experience had never had to end. I would just like to say thank you to your team of organisers for organising the spectacular trip." Rajni Kanda

Volunteer accommodation on projects in Sri Lanka with Travellers Worldwide

Volunteer accommodation on projects in Sri Lanka with Travellers Worldwide

Got any questions? Please email us: info@travellersworldwide.com


Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our Sri Lankan staff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

You will have weekends free and this will also allow some time for travelling and sight seeing.


Feedback on the Zoo Project in Sri Lanka

Hands-on conservation work at Colombo Zoo in Sri Lanka with Travellers Voluntary Projects

Photo Galleries
Diary of Life in Sri Lanka


While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.

1-Wk Elephant Orphanage
Meditation Course

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Sri Lanka, or you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment!


We cannot BEGIN to tell you how beautiful this paradise island is! Nor how cheap to live and get around.  It is almost too good to be true! But it is true. 

Towering Pagodas, Hindu temples and ancient fortresses to holy rivers and sacred mountains. The local people are very welcoming and friendly, especially in the rural areas. The tea plantations are a must, the lace making, monuments and architectural splendours, etc., but the most appealing is the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. Not to be missed! It's an emotive sight that you'll never forget!

Sri Lanka has miles and miles of amazing beaches. Some of our favourites are:

MIRISSA: Perhaps a contender for the most beautiful beach in the world. Long, deserted and hot. You know you have got away from it all as you sit and watch the sunset over this horizon…The snorkelling is also incredible here.

NEGOMBO: To the north of Colombo lies Negombo, a busting fishing town with golden beaches and a pallet of colour provided by sails and boats against the deep blue of the ocean. 

UNAWATUNA: A sleepy peaceful cove with deep still water and a temple overlooking the bay from the protecting cliffs.

HIKKADUWA: A long stretch of beach with plenty of hostels, restaurants and some nice bars, not forgetting the impromptu beach parties held on the beach front bars blaring Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led Zeplin and many other classics! Sri Lanka is a conservative island brimming with culture and Hikkaduwa offers an exciting opportunity to holiday for the odd celebratory weekend! Many a volunteer birthday has been seen in over Hikkaduwa cocktails. You can also body board and even surf on this beach.

ARUGAM BAY: This tiny fishing village is Sri Lanka’s newest hot spot and hosts the best surfing and an easy going happy party atmosphere. With its wide sweeping beach in front of the village and year round gorgeous swimming it is no surprise that this bay has developed into a low budget travellers haunt.

"Thank you for the experience you gave me, it was stunning and a memory that always always always
brings me warmth"
Tim Hancock

White Water Rafting:Sri Lanka’s boulder stream rivers are the ideal setting for white water rafting. This is the best way to see the stunning environment what this region has to offer. Many tours are available and many begin with days of action, rafting the white waters. This high adventure is suitable for fish time ‘go for it’ rafters and experts alike.  Rafting has become a very popular exciting yet safe adventure sport option.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering: Mountaineering is an adventure sport that requires skills and levels of fitness that few other adventure sports can match. The mountain ranges in Sri Lanka offer breath taking, enthralling, climbing routes. Climbing is all about discovering the natural world around and with you.

Hiking and Trekking: There’s no better way to explore the natural scenic beauty of this island with diverse climatic zones. Trekking is an excellent way to explore a country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Paths and campsites have been set up to give nature lovers the experience of a lifetime. All possible steps are taken to ensure local community benefit and nature conservation in keeping with all international camping guidelines.

Canoeing & Kayaking: This relatively new sport is rated as the most adventurous of all adventure sports. It involves descending a stream as it drops over waterfalls and boulders. In Sri Lanka they have low waterfalls for beginners and some as high as 700 feet for the very experienced - all surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

The driest and best seasons are from December to March on the west and south coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September on the east coast. December to March is also the time when most foreign tourists come, the majority of them escaping the European winter.

The coastal stretch south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy expanses as far as the eye can see. The Kandyan dances, a procession of elephants or the masked devil dances. Then there are the ruins, ancient and inspiring architecture in the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa to satisfy any archaeologist.

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your programme, please click here.


Work at this wonderful Elephant Orphanage which is a sanctuary for rescued, injured or abused elephants. Visitors from all over the world come to see these magnificent animals. Around 80 elephants have found homes at Pinnawala, including some small babies who have been born into the herd.
Up close and personal with Borneo's native wildlife. Care for animals in Malaysian Borneo's newest attraction and home to many of Sabah's native and threatened species. Many species in Borneo are endangered and so the Wildlife Park has a very important role in educating the public in conservation and awareness of environmental issues.