Zoo assistant internship in Malaysia

More information

  • Why do people like doing this?

    For people who care about animals and nature, this project is perfect. Volunteers can work alongside zookeepers to enrich and improve the standards of Malaysian zoos. You will be working with a diverse array of animals animals, such as pygmy elephants, singing gibbons, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, orangutans and hornbills. After the project, you will have a good understanding of the threats that face many captive animals and will know that your contribution has benefited the animals and created awareness in the local area.

    This project works perfectly as a summer volunteer program, gap travel program and career break. Some people looking for volunteer holidays abroad have even enjoyed getting involved as part of their trip.

  • What is a typical day like?

    Every day will be a new experience and you will learn a lot during your time on the project. Upon arrival at the zoo you will receive an orientation and induction, both to the zoo and to the local area.

    A typical working day at the zoo will comprise of a 08:00 start and your role will be to assist the zookeepers in their daily jobs. Cleaning cages and zoo compounds, feeding the animals and preparing activities for a variety of zoo animals will be your main tasks. You will get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of how a zoo works and you will be interacting with the animals first hand. Volunteers will get the opportunity to use their initiative and to develop their own ideas as to how enrichment activities can be implemented to improve the conditions of the animals.

  • When can I go?


    05 February 18 February
    05 August 18 August


  • When should I book?

    We would suggest that you book as soon as you know that you are keen, as our places can fill up several months in advance throughout the year.

    If you are keen to volunteer between June and September we would recommend that you book as early as possible, usually by February of the year that you wish to go at the latest.

    We do however often have last minute availability, so you should always ask.

  • Can I combine projects in Borneo and Malaysia?

    Yes, and we really encourage this. This project can be combined with:

    If you choose to combine projects in Borneo and Malaysia, we offer you a discount of £200.

  • What is Oyster’s policy on interaction with the animals?

    Volunteers are not allowed to have direct contact with the animals due to the animals’ unpredictable behaviour. Physical interaction does not benefit the animals and can often be counter-productive to the aims of the rehabilitation project.

    Every volunteer will have plenty of time to watch the animals and get to know them. The highlight for many volunteers is understanding each animal’s personality and learning how they communicate with each other.

  • What is the weather like?

    Prepare for rain in Malaysia! With an annual rainfall in excess of 2500mm in many areas, getting wet is inevitable. The humidity levels are 90%. Don’t worry if you do get wet, as soon as the sun comes out you will dry out in no time, but do be aware that on cloudy days the drying process may take longer. Malaysia has a wet and a dry season. However, rain can occur at anytime. Most downpours and thunderstorms occur in the morning. The wet season lasts from November to March, with November being the wettest month of all. The drier season is from May to September. However, you can still expect around 10 days of rain a month.

  • How much money should I budget?

    Accommodation and airport transfer are included in your trip. All you need to cover is any personal expenditure, money for your social life and for a few trips. You are provided with a food budget for the days that you are working. We would recommend budgeting up to £50 per week for drinks, treats and trips., but you should not expect to spend that much money!

  • How should I take money?

    There is an ATM in the nearby town of Melaka. You should take enough cash with you to last for a couple of weeks.

    If you are going for over 4 weeks, you might like to consider getting a cash card. Cash cards are a safe and convenient way to take your money travelling with you – they act just like debit cards but do not have the same fees as you might have to pay on your bank cards from home. Check out our blog for details on how the card works here.

  • What are the visa requirements?

    No visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European and western countries.

    You should make sure your passport is valid for 6 months after your entry date into Malaysia

  • Can I go alone/with a friend?

    Most of our volunteers are independent travellers and you will become part of a group of people from around the world here. It is fine to travel with friends or as part of a small group too however- more the merrier!

  • Can I do this as a holiday?

    The simple answer to this question is, yes absolutely!

    It is important to bear in mind however that this may not be like other holidays that you have taken. Remember that you are volunteering, and this means that you will be put to work! This sort of holiday is a world away from sun loungers and cocktails, with our volunteers often heading home tired but immensely satisfied. If you think that you will need a bit of relaxing time on your trip too, do make sure to factor this in when your time on the project is complete.

  • What vaccinations will I need?

    You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. Your routine vaccinations will need to be up to date, it is likely you will need Hepatitis A and Typhoid, and possibly Hepatitis B, Malaria and Rabies. You should follow your doctor’s advice.

    Please check below for where the closest hospital to the project is- your doctor may ask to know this so that they can provide information on rabies.

  • Where is the closest hospital?

    There is a doctor’s surgery and hospital in the town located about 30 minutes drive away.

  • How safe will I be?

    Malaysia is a very forward-thinking country and has become very popular with travellers from around the world. The centre is in a very secure and safe area. A safe is provided in the main office for valuables.  Your accommodation is located on the zoo premesis. Whilst working here you will be under the guidance of the volunteer coordinator and full time members of staff, and you will receive full health and safety briefings on all that you do.

  • How far from town will I be?

    You will be based 30 minutes from the town of Melaka, and 2 hours from buzzing Kuala Lumpur.

  • Where will I be living?

    You will spend your first night in a guest house in the heart of the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, before heading up to the zoo the following day. Here you will live within the grounds of the zoo, surrounded by the calls of the wild and living in a basic yet comfortable Malaysian house. Expect to share a room with two other volunteers with an en-suite bathroom. You will have western toilets, refreshingly cool showers and over 1000 animals on your doorstep! There is a large living room in the house and a small kitchen where you can prepare your meals. Cooking facilities are provided so that you can cook with your fellow volunteers. Alternatively you are more than welcome to eat at the zoo or the local shopping mall – think amazingly cheap and delicious local food!

  • What will the food be like?

    During your time at the zoo, you will be given a food allowance to allow you to buy food in to cook on site. The food allowance is only for days that volunteers are working at the zoo. There is a large shopping mall close to the zoo (about 15 minutes walk) where you can get a huge range of products including fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, sauces, cereals, bread etc. Please remember that buying local foods will be cheaper than western foods! At the mall there are some wonderful eateries where they sell delicious Malaysian, Chinese and Indian foods. Full meals cost between RM5-RM12. This is a great way to enjoy local fare and to experience the buzz at the outdoor restaurants. You will need to bring money for bottled water and snacks throughout the projects. If you are vegetarian/vegan then there are restaurants that can be found in towns or cities. Please be aware that the variety may be limited. The local villages can tailor food for vegetarians if they are informed in advance.

  • What is the wifi access like?

    There is no wifi at the zoo, however there is an internet cafe 15 minutes from the zoo.

  • What is the mobile phone reception like?

    There is full telephone reception at the zoo.

  • What time zone will I be in?

    Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT +8)

  • What plug adapter will I need?

    You can use 240V 50Hz plugs (the same plugs used in the U.K.)

  • What can I do in my free time?

    There is a lot you can do in your free time and as you have travelled far, it is worth exploring as much as possible. You could cruise down the Malaca River or cycle around the local area. The city of Melaka with all of its deep history is just 30 minutes away from the project.

  • How much free time will I get?

    Usually, you will be free during the evening and at the weekend. However, if you are not then your programme facilitator will ensure that you are given 2 days off during the week.

  • How much will I be supervised?

    Supervision will be fairly intensive during the first few days, when you will receive a thorough induction and work-related training.  Once you are comfortable with things, you might not always have a supervisor working alongside you, but there will always be staff and other volunteers around to help, and you will always be accompanied for any high risk activities.


    Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are at the project.  This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the time you are dropped back there.  Before and after these times, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk.  This is also true if you choose to leave the project during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.

  • How do I choose the best volunteering project for me?

    Oyster has personally hand-picked some of the best volunteering projects out there. With so much amazing choice, it can be hard to make a decision. Our Animal Welfare Destination Manager, Anne, has written a guide to help you to choose the best animal volunteering project for you.

  • Is there a project fact sheet?

    Yes, follow the link to view our project fact sheet.

  • Exchange rate

    Value of £1 in Malaysia is 5.3 Malaysian Ringgitt