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Zimbabwe Veterinary Experience

Set in a wildlife orphanage in Zimbabwe, this programme provides real-world wildlife exposure, as well as the opportunity to shadow and assist with day-to-day veterinary experiences at the orphanage, such as wildlife rescues and captures, immobilisations, translocations, de-worming and vaccinations, spays and neuters, microchipping, and other veterinary procedures.

The project is set in Chipangali, one of Africa’s oldest and most successful wildlife orphanages. This animal sanctuary is a haven for creatures which have little hope for survival in the wild. The orphanage is often the last refuge for animals or birds that are brought in orphaned, sick or injured, or in danger due to human/wildlife conflict, and in some cases confiscated after being born in captivity or kept as “pets”.

All the animals at Chipangali have their own story as to how they ended up at the sanctuary. Wherever possible, rescued animals and birds are rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but where release into their natural habitat is not possible, they are provided with care and a home-for-life in the orphanage.

Make a real difference to the lives of these animals, as well as gaining wildlife and veterinary experience.

Vet students working with a blesbok.

Chipangale Wildlife Orphanage was established in 1973 by ex-game ranger Vivian Wilson and his wife Paddy, and is now run by the next two generations of the family, Kevin, Nicky, Mickayla and Ryan.

Chipangali is set on over 150 acres (61 hectares) of land, on the outskirts of Bulawayo. A wide range of wildlife are temporary or permanent residents, including lion, leopard, serval, hyena, crocodile, primates, snake, birds and various species of antelope to name but a few!

The animals are cared for in enclosures and kept for educational purposes and zoological study. In the case of endangered species, captive breeding programs may be undertaken.


Activities Zimbabwe Veterinary Experience
Veterinary studnet monitoring a sedated lion.



Participants can expect to be involved in some or all of the following areas during their stay:

General Animal Care:

You will be assisting in the care of animals at the orphanage, with important tasks such as food-preparation, feeding, cleaning and maintaining enclosures, helping create enrichment for the animals, hand-rearing any orphans that come in, and other tasks as required. The volunteer team is also on-call during fire season, and when there are baby animals in, the peak being between October and December. At this time of year your days off may also be busy caring for wildlife in need!


You’ll learn the dietary requirements of the different species of animals at the orphanage, and the nutritional values of the various foods. You’ll also become adept at identifying different foliage that is consumed by the antelopes and primates. You will prepare food for the animals, and help with feeding.


In-House Veterinary Care

The team performs a lot of the minor veterinary care procedures for animals on site, including wound treatment and management, giving medications, and general health checks.

Veterinary volunteers with a sedated lion.
Vet volunteer examining a pangolin.

Veterinary Procedures

The orphanage works hand-in-hand with a local vet, for any major veterinary procedures required. He allows students to observe and assist with procedures on the orphanage animals, such as dental work, stitch-ups, spaying, neutering, amputations, setting broken limbs, and any other surgical procedures that may be needed. In the event that a necropsy is required, the students may observe or be involved.


Wildlife in the surrounding area can often become caught up in human-animal conflict. The orphanage assists communities with relocating problem animals, and in these cases humane traps are set to capture these animals. Once the animals are captured, they are chemically immobilized for transportation, undertaking a general health check, and are also micro-chipped for future identification. As a participant, you would be involved with observing and assisting with the immobilization, monitoring the animals, and assist with the movement, micro-chipping, vaccinating, and recording vital signs for these animals. In some cases, animals that are at the orphanage will have to be immobilized for examination or treatment, and you will be able to observe and assist with these occurrences too.

Vaccination and Microchipping

During your stay you may have the opportunity to assist in the vaccination of animals against diseases such as rabies, parvo, feline TB, and cat flu, as well as micro chipping.

Parasite Control

You may assist in the prevention removal of parasites from animals in different ways:

• Deworming

• Removing ticks through dipping or physical removal

• Spraying enclosures against fleas

• Injecting animals with anti-parasiticides.


The orphanage regularly receives deceased cattle, horses and donkeys from local farms for on-site butchering to feed to the carnivores. Veterinary students may be interested in performing a supervised necropsy in order to develop anatomy knowledge and veterinary surgical skills.


Additional Activities

The orphanage is open to the public for the purpose of education - school groups and individual visitors are particularly valuable towards the goal of educating local people on the value of wildlife conservation, and the need to live in harmony with wildlife. You may be involved with these tours, and in educating the public. The orphanage also operates a valuable environmental outreach program, EPIC Kids, which conducts wildlife education in over 250 schools in and around Bulawayo. An animal may be taken along to a school visit for engagement purposes, and you may join for the day in order to help with the animals. Since its inception, over 500,000 Zimbabwean students have attended an EPIC Kids lecture.

Volunteer with mongeese.
Veterinary volunteer with a duiker.
Accommodation Zimbabwe Veterinary Experience


Comfortable cabin accommodation is provided, usually on a twin / triple / quad-share basis, although if space permits you may have a cabin of your own.

All 8 cabins have an en-suite bathroom, and are situated around a spacious and relaxing garden area with a swimming pool for participant use. 

Three catered meals are provided each day, with a vegetarian option available on request.


Unfortunately, more restrictive dietary requirements cannot be provided for.

The entertainment lounge has a range of books and movies, as well as darts and a pool table.

Wi-fi is available at the accommodation. 


Zimbabwe Veterinary Experience Accommodation
Zimbabwe Veterinary Experience Accommodation
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