Hey what’s up guys John here and welcome back up an extended hiatus so I took another trip to South Africa and I spent some time with volunteer Southern Africa’s living with big cats program for those of you who may not know this is a volunteer program that takes place in a family owned farm but an hour outside of Joburg and you help take care of wild animals who for different reasons can’t go back into the wild .
I’ve made a bunch of videos from this program in the past which I’ll link down the description but what I want to do today is show you kind of a typical day in the life of a volunteer so some of the things you’re about to see you’ll definitely do when you visit as a volunteer other things you might do what really just depends on the day so I present to you a day in the life living with big cats .
So if you’ve seen any of my previous videos you’ll know that we start every morning at seven thirty and that’s when we clean out the elephant house and the horse stables that’s a pretty standard thing that we do there every day but this time around we did something really cool that I’ve never done before .
So today we are herding all of the goats and we are going to be injecting them the reason we are injecting them is to bridge them of tic and any infections and anything they might capture in the wild we have team that are going to be herding them and collecting them and another team that are going to be sticking needles in their bottoms .
So we had around 90 goats and we had to vaccinate them all luckily some of the other volunteers were vets with a lot of experience doing things like this so that made the whole process go a lot smoother .
Some of the goats were pretty good about it they just went along with it but most of them not so much I know when I was little I didn’t like getting shot so I always tried to run away from the doctor or whatever you’re trying to get your dog to take a bath and they’re not happy about it it’s kind of like that they definitely didn’t make it easy on us but it was for their own good .
Breakfast is at nine a.m. so we walk up the hill go have breakfast then a little bit after ten we meet back down the volunteer area to find out what jobs we’re gonna do this could be anything from cleaning out the enclosures, weeding, fixing fences really just anything that needs doing around the farm but if you’re lucky you’ll get to do something cool with the Lions on certain days we take the Lions and we do different enrichment activities with them that could be taking them to swim or building structures out the straw to put in their enclosures basically for them to just go and destroy they love doing that so they aren’t cats after all .
And just like house cats enjoy chasing things on a string what are the enrichment activities we do with the Lions is having them chase the lor .
On some mornings you might do a lion walk which is usually around 8 a.m. .
I’ve said this many times before and I want to stress that the line walks are done for their benefit just like when you’re at home when you take your dog to the dog parks they can just run around off the leash and have fun it’s kind of the same concept with the lion they get to go in roam in a big open area and we just benefit because we’re able to go along with them .
After we’re done with the morning work or animal interaction wherever it may be we then break for lunch at noon you don’t start work yet until so this start time it just relax maybe take a nap but since this is the hottest part of the day a lot of times we just go to the pool .
But honestly whether it’s during lunchtime or after work if we have free time a lot of times that can just mean getting up to no good and it’s not just the volunteers the project leaders or even worse .
Yesterday we all had a massive water fight we got water poured over us and then we got everyone involved .
That one’s not even connected how would think it would go on .
Another really cool thing we did this time that I haven’t done before is visiting an animal shelter the shelter visit I believe is on Fridays so again that’s not something you’ll do every single day although I do love wild animals I’m also a huge dog lover so it was really cool to go to a shelter and get to give some much-needed attention to these dogs you need a home .
We went to visit a shelter they had lots of dogs and cats they were abandoned we felt really grateful that we could share some love there and play with them at the end of the day we were really happy that we could help them and make them feel happier so it was really nice .
After lunch when we go back down to the volunteer area your afternoon jobs really just depend again on what needs to be done around the farm if it’s not a predator feeding day you still go around and feed some of the free roaming wild animals like the giraffes the zebras the ostriches .
Now if it’s predator feeding day which are usually Mondays and Fridays that are on four o’clock we go prepare to start feeding the lions and tigers and Roxy everybody’s favorite hyena .
We’d meet at the workshop we chop up the meat each cat gets a certain portion then we load them into the truck and we’d be on our way as weird and as gross as it may be this is one of my favorite things to do and it’s always exciting to do predator feeding the only thing I enjoy more than this is seeing the looks and the excitement on other people’s faces when they do it for the first time they see how the Tigers leap up into the air to grab their food or how Roxy laughs hysterically when she sees her food coming .
The hyena was my personal favorite and she makes this crazy laugh when she’s super excited about her feed it was you know something that I will never forget .
We usually finish work four thirty or five then we go have dinner and it’s our time to just relax and do whatever we want .
There are a lot of things that you can do there they have excursion days where the volunteers go out and they enjoy the local sights things like quadbiking skydiving hot-air ballooning there’s a lot of fun times outside of the word flight in the Wednesday night party .
I always say in these videos when you work with wild animals you don’t always know what it’s going to be like or what’s gonna come up and sometimes you have some really nice surprises .
The elephant’s are free and they roam around all day long every now and again if it’s really hot they’ll decide to go take a dip in the dam it doesn’t happen all the time but when it does I think it’s just a beautiful sight to see .
When elephants are swimming I was really emotional just because I love them so much I was really happy I was a bit homesick and I was thinking I wanted to be at home cuz I’ve been here for a while but watching them swim why would I want to be at home when I can like watch elephants swim in a damn because I love them so much it just made me really excited .
I feel really really lucky .
If you’re a regular on this channel you’ll know that last year in 2018 I kind of disappeared for a while .
2018 was probably one of the hardest years of my life multiple tragedy is losing many friends and family members and then to top it all off a few days before Christmas one of the most important people in my life betrayed me not only did this person betray me and one of the most horrible and heartless ways possible but they are now living a brand new life that they only obtained by stabbing me in the back so needless to say 2018 was not my best year .
But going back to Africa being around the animals and experiencing all the things that I did it reminded me just how incredible and how beautiful life can be .
This is why I think it’s so important to experience things like this because when you’re there you’re doing things that make you want to put down your phone and just be engaged and be present with the people around you how many times in your life can you say that you’re having so much fun that you don’t even want to pick up your phone if you’re someone who’s like me and you dream of this type of experience if you dream of getting to be around these incredible wild animals then this is something that you need to do .
If 2018 taught me anything it’s just how fragile and how fleeting life can be there are a lot of people who are in my life this time last year that just are no longer in it anymore and all of them are people who thought they would have more time this is why it’s so important not to wait to live your dreams don’t keep saying you’ll do this later don’t keep saying that you’ll do it a year from now sometime the future because honestly the future is not promised to any of us if you’re looking for a sign then this is it .