The Transformative Power of Volunteering With Animals

By: Bobbi Brink

There's something truly magical about the bond between humans and animals. It's a connection that transcends words, a silent understanding that touches the deepest corners of our hearts. If you are looking for a way to give back, volunteering with animals can be an enriching and transformative experience.

Not only does it benefit the animals and the organizations that care for them, but it also has a profound impact on you. From increased empathy and compassion to community involvement and a greater sense of purpose, here's a look at how volunteering with animals can transform your life.

The Connection between Animals and Human Well-being

Animals have a unique ability to uplift our spirits and bring solace during times of distress. Numerous studies have shown that spending time with animals can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve mood. The presence of animals releases oxytocin, often called the "love hormone," which fosters feelings of bonding and attachment. These effects extend even further when one engages in hands-on interactions, such as volunteering.

Responsible attentive young male volunteer caring for adorable hairy dog in animal shelter highlighting volunteer work mental well-being and professional development

Ways to Volunteer With Animals

You can volunteer with animals at a reputable and accredited sanctuary like Lions, Tigers, & Bears in various ways, depending on your interests, skills, and the types of animals you'd like to work with. These include:  

  • Help care for rescued exotic animals and other animals
  • Assist with habitat maintenance and enrichment activities
  • Support educational programs for visitors
  • Donate time and money
  • Participate in campaigns to raise awareness about animal rights and welfare issues
  • Writing articles, creating social media content, or organizing events.
  • Office help/taking phone calls
  • Construction
  • Event Planning

How Volunteering With Animals Can Transform Your Life

Woman volunteering in animal shelter emphasizing mental well-being professional development and personal growth

Volunteering at organizations like Lions Tigers & Bears isn't just about the animals—it's a journey of personal growth and transformation. At its core, it's about becoming more human. The act of caring for another being, understanding their needs, and responding to their emotions nurtures a profound sense of empathy. The responsibility of tending to the animals' well-being fosters a heightened sense of accountability. And the fulfillment derived from contributing to their happiness and comfort generates an unparalleled sense of purpose.

Here are some ways that volunteer experience can impact your life:

Make a Difference in the Lives of Animals

Volunteering with animals allows you to directly impact the well-being and quality of life of animals in need. When you contribute your time and efforts, you provide animals with care, attention, and love that they might not otherwise receive.

This sense of purpose and responsibility can bring profound satisfaction and fulfillment. Studies have shown that animal interaction can lead to increased feelings of happiness and contentment, and the act of helping animals can create a positive feedback loop of emotional and mental well-being.

Meet New People and Make New Friends

Volunteering often involves working alongside like-minded individuals who share your passion for animals. This provides a natural setting to meet new people and forge meaningful connections. Shared experiences and common goals can lead to the formation of solid friendships. A study published in the NIH journal found that volunteering can increase social integration and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Share Your Talent and Learn New Skills

Volunteering with animals allows you to contribute your existing skills and talents while learning new ones. Whether you have experience in animal care or are eager to learn, there are opportunities to develop expertise in animal care, communication, and teamwork. The acquisition of new skills can enhance your sense of personal growth and accomplishment. It can also add to your job experience, which is critical in professional development.

Feel Better About Yourself by Improving Your Self-Esteem and Confidence

Cat viewing itself as a lion in a mirror symbolizing volunteer work personal growth and job experience boosting self-esteem

The act of volunteering, particularly when it involves making a positive impact on animals, can boost self-esteem and confidence. Seeing the tangible results of your efforts and receiving appreciation from animals and fellow volunteers can lead to a greater sense of self-worth. Several studies show that longer volunteering is linked to a higher level of life satisfaction and self-esteem. The volunteer impact can also teach responsibility, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, all of which enhance confidence.

Combat Stress, Social Isolation, and Depression

Interacting with animals has been shown to have therapeutic effects on mental health. Spending time with animals can release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of bonding and reduces stress. An animal’s companionship and unconditional love can alleviate feelings of social isolation and depression.

Just the audio acknowledgement from a majestic animal like a lion or tiger elicits a connection with a profound effect. According to research, spending time with animals can lower stress levels and enhance emotional well-being.

Great Way to Get Outside

Animal-related volunteer work mainly involves outdoor activities, such as cleaning enclosures or participating in conservation efforts. Engaging in outdoor activities exposes you to fresh air and natural surroundings and encourages physical activity, which is beneficial for both mental and physical well-being. Lions, Tigers, & Bears is located in the beautiful hills of Alpine, bordering the Cleveland National Forest.

Remember that the transformative effects of volunteering with animals can vary from person to person, and the depth of impact often depends on the level of involvement and personal commitment. It's essential to choose opportunities that align with your interests and values to maximize the positive outcomes for both you and the animals you're helping.

Testimonial from Volunteers

As a volunteer, you will make a positive impact on the rescued animals that call Lions Tigers & Bears home. There are various rewarding opportunities to contribute, ranging from helping with fundraisers to building fences and caring for the animals. Each task plays a crucial role in the efficiency of our sanctuary. By volunteering, you'll experience the fulfillment of dedicating yourself to the commitment of helping animals in need.

As a volunteer, you may take on essential responsibilities such as food preparation, guiding visitors as animal ambassadors, cleaning the animal habitats, assisting the veterinary and keeper staff, performing general cleaning tasks, supporting daily educational visits, and even engaging in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, fence building, and grounds maintenance.

Not only does volunteering benefit the animals, but it's also incredibly beneficial for your well-being. Studies conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service reveal that giving back through volunteering can lower rates of depression, reduce the risk of disease, and potentially extend your lifespan by several years. Even dedicating as little as two hours a week to helping can have positive effects on your health and the well-being of our beloved animals.

Say Hello to Tammi and Craig

Let's introduce you to two of our remarkable volunteers, Tammi and Craig. They have been a vital part of Lions Tigers & Bears for three years, overseeing the care of our livestock. Tammi and Craig provide invaluable assistance to our expert keepers by engaging in various tasks such as habitat cleaning, grooming, walking the animals, and feeding them.

The special bond they have developed with the animals, particularly with a miniature horse and donkey Spirit, and Jack, is truly heartwarming to witness. The trust these animals place in Tammi and Craig is evident in the excitement they display when the volunteers arrive to take them on walks.

For Tammi and Craig, volunteering at Lions Tigers & Bears not only brings joy and peace to the animals but also adds a sense of fulfillment and happiness to their own lives. The beautiful facility and the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of these wonderful creatures have made their volunteer journey truly enriching. 

Take the first step today. Contact Lions Tigers & Bears and begin your volunteer journey. 

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