About volunteering with leopards, lions and cheetah

Hey what’s up guys John here and last time you saw me visit one of the SA brand new projects, in this video I’m gonna do an update from living with big cats and I also want to answer some of the questions that you guys frequently ask .

I’ve done a few videos from this project now so if you’ve missed any of those they’ll be down in the description if it’s your first time seeing these videos living big cats is a volunteer program in South Africa you work on a game farm you help take care of animals who can’t go back into the wild feeding, cleaning enclosures and everyone’s favorite scooping poop .

But even though it’s a lot of hard work we always find ways to make it fun .

I’ve been in this project a few times before so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to see these animals grow so I was happy to meet the newest member of the big cats family a leopard cub named Cody .

Cody’s the cutest little thing and when he’s older he’ll be a mate for Salani, another leopard who lives on the farm .

One of the questions I always get asked is the big cats why are they at the program and how did they get there I did touch on that a little bit from my last video of this project but I’ll go into a little bit more info .

One of the things we do at the program is working with the animals in the training camp .

The purpose of the training camp is for the enrichment and the betterment of the animals .

I admit it does look very circusy and very gimmicky on the surface but this is something that’s done for their benefit .

When I first met Jasmine and Pi the two baby tigers they are two little abandoned tiger cubs who have nowhere else to go, they were very aggressive and they had a lot of issues, issues with their growth their joints their bones at this program through working with them in the training camps they’ve come a long way and this is something I’ve personally been able to witness it’s not simply an interaction for volunteers they work with professionals who are some of the best and most qualified in the industry so when you see them doing these exercises not only is it for their mental stimulation it also helps with things like their agility and reflexes and it’s partially because of this that they no longer suffer from those issues that they suffered from previously .

Now the girls Savuti, Serabian, Sahara again talked about them in my last video but I’ll get into some more info here .

These girls I met when I think they’re around ten days old they’re now two years old one of the things we do for the girls enrichment is lion walks .

The lion walks are done for their benefit it’s a form of exercise it’s a form of enrichment and the volunteers just benefit from being yelled to go along .

This is something that would happen whether the volunteers are there or not and the fact that they’re now two years old still living there and still able to walk with volunteers that’s a testament to how well they’re treated and how they’ve been looked after the lion walks are not something that’s gonna happen with them forever but the program is their permanent home and it has been for the past two years .

Two more very common questions that I’m often asked is this program safe and will I be okay if I go there by myself the program is located in a somewhat touristy kind of area you’re not staying in the middle of a Township there is security and as long as you follow the rules and do what you’re supposed to do and just practice basic common sense the same common sense you practice at home you will be perfectly safe .

Typically when ask people what do they like best about this program and always get the same answer getting up close and personal with the animals and meeting people from all over the world for a lot of the people that go to this program it’s their first time traveling or going on trip by themselves a lot of them have just finished high school maybe taking a gap year or taking the summer off before they go to university you do have all different ages but it’s usually like 18 to maybe late 20s everyone is in the same boat you’re gonna be around people who also love animals a lot of them are nervous just like you but it’s amazing how quickly you make friends and how quickly you get close to people .

I found out about the program through Facebook and I watched one of John’s videos I found out through John’s videos as well .

When I found out about the program I was really interested but I wanted to make sure that it was legit .

I did have some concerns with safety and once I got here it was completely safe the people here are amazing and really friendly and that’s really comforting because I was worried that I wasn’t gonna have anyone to really talk to .

From watching the videos to actually being here it’s an amazing thing you don’t know what’s going on in the videos because it could all be staged but then once you’re here and you see how beautiful and how safe and friendly that people are you feel like one of the team right away it was awesome .

If you’re thinking about coming to this program but you’re scared about maybe not be able to make friends being by yourself not being able to travel so far by yourself you will be fine coming these programs over the past couple years I have had some of the most amazing times of my life I have met incredible people from all over the world I’ve done things that I never thought possible and all it took from me was just getting over that initial fear and just deciding to jump in and do it so if you’re on the fence if you’re thinking about doing this but you’re not sure I would say just do it I’ve probably said all of this before but it’s something that you won’t regret and it really is something that you will truly remember forever .