Volunteer at a Chimpanzee Sanctuary

African Impact  »  Volunteer at a Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Volunteer at a Chimpanzee Sanctuary

from £1,037
Duration: from 2 weeks to 12 weeks
Countries: Zambia
Play a vital role in chimpanzee conservation and protection as you get hands-on helping to care for over 100 chimps rescued from zoos, bars and poaching.

Volunteer at a Chimpanzee Sanctuary

We first travelled to the Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary in northern Zambia in 2009 where we identified the opportunity to develop the volunteer experience at this magical place. The wildlife orphanage originally started as a family-run organisation in 1983 by David and Sheila Siddle, when a game ranger brought in a badly wounded infant chimp named ‘Pal’ which they raised into adulthood.

Chimfunshi is now home to over 120 chimpanzees rescued from poachers where they would be sold into the bush meat trade, or as pets; and from dilapidated zoos and circuses across the world. 

As a volunteer on this project you’ll help care for wild chimpanzees through behavioural enrichment activities, infrastructure development and community farming initiatives. You’ll have a chance to interact with these mischievous animals on bush walks, and you’ll also play a vital role in chimpanzee research.

Volunteering with chimpanzees on this project you’ll learn interesting facts and all about chimp behaviour and characteristics, social dynamics and threats. You’ll even learn about animal tracking when you do boundary patrols, and you could find yourself taking home new skills like building, painting, planting and farming!

Volunteers also learn to live in the true African bush, isolated from the Western world. This project takes on only a handful of volunteers at a time but you’ll work closely with the team on the ground to make the biggest impact you can. This is a great platform for personal growth, self-awareness and appreciation for life’s little things.



Chimfunshi gives refuge to over 120 chimps rescued from the bush meat trade, circuses, zoos and bars. In partnership with Chimfunshi, African Impact created this volunteer program abroad to help care for and conserve these rescued chimps. This sanctuary is one of the few places on earth that rescued chimpanzees can live out their lives in safety, and there are endless things which need doing to ensure this continued. The volunteer work you will be involved in includes:

Behavioral enrichment

Chimps need to be kept stimulated to encourage continued mental development. As a volunteer you will use your creativity in creating structures, toys and food-based challenges in the enclosures such as tyre swings, shaking boxes with food inside, peanut mazes; and hiding food in difficult to reach places.

Farming and food preparation

In a bid to be more self-sufficient on this project and rely less on donations for food, we started a fruit tree nursery with both indigenous and exotic fruit trees which we propagate on the project. Volunteers assist with watering, weeding, pruning and fertilizing these trees and once grown you’ll assist with harvesting and feeding the chimps. Volunteers help with farming of vegetables, which not only to sustain the chimps, but help support the local community too. Volunteers also assist the keepers with food preparations – making nshima balls from ground maize – and preparing fruit and vegetables.

Bush walks

Chimpanzees need exercise outside of their enclosures and volunteers participate in a ‘bush walk’ with some the chimps, guided by a trained Chimpanzee Handler. It is during these walks that you’ll be able to interact and connect with chimps in their natural surroundings.

Chimpanzee research awareness

There are often international researchers based at Chimfunshi working on understanding how the chimpanzee groups differ in their social dynamics.  You will assist in research activities by monitoring the chimps, collating data, taking photographs and gathering history to create identikits. This data is also used for the ‘Chimp of the Week’ post on our Facebook page, where we share the history and personalities of our chimps with our followers. All this plays a vital role in raising awareness for chimpanzees and the dangers they face; and to promote the Chimfunshi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Building refurbishment

As a volunteer you’ll get your hands dirty building thatched shelters or enclosures, mend fences and improve infrastructure at Chimfunshi, which helps both tourism and the chimpanzees themselves. You’re guaranteed to get a great workout from these types of tasks so prepare to get in shape!

Conservation education

In 2002, an Education Centre was built to provide a facility to teach the youth in the area about ecology and wildlife conservation. It is also used by local and international students researching group behavior and ethnic studies. Volunteers often assist by teaching conservation, English and adult literacy as well as facilitating kids clubs which involve arts and crafts, reading, games and sports.


The Lapa
The living/dining area is under a thatched lapa where meals are taken and also where we have regular movies nights with popcorn. There is also a pit fire where we share stories and toast marshmallows.

The Flood Plain
There is a flood plain nearby where volunteers play cricket, volleyball and soccer with the local children. It’s also a great place to enjoy a sundowner, barbeque, and some top quality stargazing!

Visits to local villages
The closest town to Chimfunshi is Chingola, approx. 2 hours away, has a delicious Indian restaurant we visit each week and we also travel there to purchase their own personal items plus any snacks or drinks. Every 3rd week our volunteers travel with our team to the town of Kitwe, where they have the opportunity to browse and buy curios/souvenirs at the markets again indulge in some yummy local cuisine.

Muchinshi is the closest village, a 45 minute drive, where volunteers have enjoyed a few beverages at one of the local bars and a chance to take on the Muchinshi pool champions

Canoe trips safari
During the dry season (May – November), you can canoe and fish on the Kafue river.

Local Cooking
You’ll have the opportunity to learn new cooking skills or share your favourite dish from your home country on ‘culture night’ where you’ll help prepare meals with other volunteers.

The highlights

  • Interact with young orphaned chimpanzees, who are very much in need of some love and affection
  • Be a part of the day to day life in the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world
  • Play an important role in the conservation of this endangered species
  • Assist with educating local Zambia children about wildlife conservation

Interested in this; ready to enquire?

Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. African Impact should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.


Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,037

Why you'll love it!

interact with young orphaned chimps, record and learn about the animals’  behaviour, and help educate local Zambian children about chimpanzees and other wildlife. A very hands-on experience, and a unique way to contribute to the conservation of this endangered species.

Do you accept non UK citizens?


User Comments:

“I just spent 10 days as a volunteer at Chimfunshi Orphanage in Zambia. It was amazing, to see these poor tortured souls happy again. As Sheila Siddle says, chimps have suffered so much pain and trauma at the hands of humans - yet they still have the grace to forgive us.”

~ by Mary Jane Bawden

About African Impact

African Impact is a multi-award winning volunteer travel organisation which runs and manages meaningful and responsible volunteer experiences and internship programs throughout Africa.  The organisation was founded in 2004 in Zimbabwe, and since then has grown into the Africa leaders in volunteer tourism, having facilitated over 12,000 volunteers and interns in 12 countries across the continent.

We are proud to offer fun, safe and structured placements where volunteers understand their contribution to responsible projects run in partnership with local communities and conservation efforts. Our journey so far has been both inspiring and humbling and we will keep pushing the horizons of what volunteering can achieve.

We believe in the power of volunteering and have seen the amazing things volunteers can achieve.
We believe in the passionate people who work for us and beside us to create tangible positive impacts and change lives.
We believe in what we do, in standing out and in standing up for fun, sustainable volun-teering.

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Photo Gallery

Interact with chimps on weekly bush walks
Help care for orphaned chimpanzees
Canoeing on the Kafue River
Bush walks with chimps in the wild
Helping maintain food gardens in the local community
Connect with great apes
Monkey around
Teach conservation education to local children
Behaviour enrichment and feeding at the sanctuary
Image 9 of 9 images
Email Enquiry

Interested in this; ready to enquire?

Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. African Impact should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.

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