Inspiration

4 Incredible Women Making a Difference in Animal Welfare

Though you may double-tap any Instagram photo starring an animal, likes don’t do much to improve their quality of life. From elephants captured in Thailand to amuse tourists to mistreated household pets, there are countless situations where humans need to change their attitudes to prioritize animal welfare. In an effort to build a better tomorrow for fauna of all kinds, these four incredible women have dedicated their lives to activism for animals. Here, discover their stories — and the meaningful ways you can contribute to a difference.

The activist who is paving the way for ethical animal tourism

Who: Nora Livingstone, CEO and Founder of Animal Experience International

Her history: Livingstone’s first love was dogs: big, small, fluffy, silky — she loved them all….

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Expedition 2020: Nepal

This will be our 4th Expedition and this time we are going to the roof top of the world! Come with us to Nepal for 10 full days of volunteering with dogs, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, hiking through terraced fields and taking part in the most wonderful of days: Kukur Tihar. That's right, we will be in Nepal for the blessing of the dogs! We will be arriving in Kathmandu on November 10th 2020 and staying for 10 full days!

Included: carbon balancing, all accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, access and admission to all UNESCO sites, fully guided day trek, full volunteer fees and donations to dog rescue centres. $2495 Canadian.

Want to learn more about Expedition Nepal?

AEI empowers animal lovers, students, professionals, and adventure seekers to travel and make a difference by volunteering with animals.

Our exceptional experiences are safe, ethical and unforgettable. Join our team of international volunteers and explore the world while doing what you love. It doesn’t matter who you are, we will help you make a difference.

Tired of competition? Join forces to change to the world!

It can seem sometimes that our world is geared towards competition. Throughout our education, during our quest for the perfect job, while searching for the perfect apartment, in the workplace - it can feel like everyone is pitted against each other. And this can create a culture of scarcity. We can begin feeling like we need to fight for what we want, or settle for something less and feel not so great about ourselves.

In my life I have experienced these feelings first hand. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine is a fairly competitive field. For me this meant I was competing with my university classmates for a spot at vet school. Once in vet school I was competing with my classmates for placement opportunities in my field. My interest has always been in wildlife conservation, and it seemed we were constantly told that there weren't enough spots, not enough opportunities, not enough jobs. 

This feeling of famine can make us close ranks, stop sharing, focus on our own best interests.

But what if we turned this idea on its head - began to look at the world from a place of plenty. What if there was more than enough for everyone?

This is the philosophy that was behind the founding of Animal Experience International. We set out to create a space where people are encouraged to participate. Where there are opportunities for all! Everyone can get involved! There is no shortage of places you can visit and ways in which you can help! 

Creating a culture of bounty means we are collaborating and creating together. We are sharing and joining forces to make the world a better place. When we remove the pressure of competition and the fear of failure, we see people soar, their hearts open, the possibilities become endless. This is where true growth begins, true innovation, true change making. 

Join us at Animal Experience International and embrace collaboration and abundance. You can make a difference today!


Namaste Jan

Since May I have been trying to write something proper about Jan Salter MBE, founder of the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre and my friend. She died in 2018 and it was clear to me she changed my life and I wanted to tell others how much. Unfortunately, during times like this words often fail us.

I had the wonderful opportunity to write something about my experience in Nepal for Musa Masala. Of course, I knew I couldn’t write about Nepal without writing about Jan. Words continued to fail me but at least I was able to write something. Please accept my humble offering of how Nepal, a country of tremendous beauty, welcoming smiles and impossibly interesting history changed my life by helping my path cross Jan’s.

Nepal: Inspiration for a New Beginning.

Namaste,

Nora

Introducing bite sized animal volunteer experiences!

We now have 1 week programs available!

You spoke, we listened! While we would love to all have months and months every year to go volunteer with animals, sometimes that just isn't feasible. Our jobs, families and lives are jam packed already. So what can we do to help even more people help animals: Introducing 1 Week Experiences! 

Over the next few days we will be rolling out new prices for our partners that can take volunteers for 1 week experiences. It won't be all of our programs, some have so much training that 7 days is just not enough to get the full experience, but there will be quite a few that welcome shorter term volunteers. 

This not only means a smaller investment of time, it means a smaller investment in fees. We won't be cutting any corners, the programs still receive donations, you still get travel insurance, your in-country travel is still carbon balanced and you still get to have one of the most amazing trips of a lifetime! Hopefully these amazing experiences will fit into your life just a little better. 

What programs will you be able to take part in for one week? Sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica, flying fox rehabilitation in Australia, dog rescue in Mexico, elephant recuperation in Thailand, baboon care in Southern Africa and many more! Check out the website and take a look!

Remember, we also run short expeditions once a year for those who want to volunteer on a program in a group! In 2019 we are going to Guatemala to volunteer at a wildlife centre. Our volunteer coordinator will be taking people to northern Guatemala so they can safely and humanely volunteer with toucans, wild boars, monkeys and more! No experience is required- all the training is on the ground. 10 days in Guatemala, what a way to live your dreams!

We Are Arc Benders!

Combining Adventure with Animal ConservationNora Livingstone, Founder & CEO of Animal Experience International

Nora Livingstone is the founder and CEO  of Animal Experience International, a certified B Corp on a mission to help animals around the globe by matching clients with animal related volunteer opportunities at sanctuaries, hospitals, wildlife rehabilitation centres, research projects and government programs. Her mission is to empower students, professionals and animal lovers to travel by providing exceptional volunteer adventures!

She shares how AEI got started, the lessons she’s learned along the way, and her advice for people that want to find their purpose.

What initially inspired you to make a difference and what career path did you follow?

I sort of fell into it, not realizing what my dream was or what my purpose was. When I graduated from university I decided to travel and volunteer. I thought that I would love for other people to do this and I wanted to help my friends have the same experience.

It was a low stakes idea – I could tell other people how they could volunteer. I was a volunteer coordinator at a wildlife center in Canada, which is where I met my current business partner. She’s a veterinarian there. After I left that center, I floated around for a while.

I loved coordinating volunteers and getting people involved and investing in people. I especially appreciated the amount of help and benefit that can go into one project, if you have a team. My (now) business partner, Heather, came up to me at a BBQ and basically pitched the idea for Animal Experience International

Bold Moves Podcast, episode 199

What is a bold move? Is it starting a social enterprise without any business background? Is it trying to make a difference? Or.. is it believing you CAN make a difference.

Nora sits down with Mandie from the Bold Moves Podcast to talk about big moves and how you can live messy and sparkly and authentically while helping animals.

Travel Towards a Career.

Travel isn't magic, it isn't going to make you taller, it isn't going to make you funnier, it won't make you rich... but maybe it can help you find you

What if when we booked trips we didn't see them as debt inducing, we saw the cost as investment? What if we looked at the world as a classroom? What if we didn't label travel as a separate and different part of life? Then, what if we didn't label our home as 'the real world'? 

What if the whole world, our whole lives, all our experiences were important? What if travel wasn't 'just' for tourism? What if it was an investment in our future? 

Those are a lot of questions, maybe your next trip will just be a vacation on a beach, perhaps it will be going to visit friends in a new town. Even though we are more than the sum of our parts, our travels, no matter where they lead us, change us. All our experiences mould and change us, if we realise it's happening or not. 

Our co-founder, Nora found this out when she went to Nepal in 2007. She didn't go to intentionally change her life, she didn't even think it was possible. She just went and now more than 10 years later she credits that first big trip as one of the reasons AEI exists today. You can read more in an article she contributed to in Student Loan Hero

We tell ourselves all kinds of reasons we shouldn't travel: we don't have enough money, we haven't worked enough yet, we haven't travelled enough before a big trip....

We want to inspire people to invest in themselves and in their future. Travel maybe won't suddenly change your life, but what if it did? What if hundreds of tiny little travel experiences changed your life over the course of a few years? Why not take the chance? Why not book the ticket?

We'll help you change your life through travel. We'll help you invest in yourself and your future. We'll help you do this while you help animals, local communities and broader ecosystems. We did it and we will be with you every step of the way.  

Contact us to talk more about where you want to go and how we will get you there!
Apply to volunteer on an international animal program with AEI.

Readers Digest says no to elephant...

rides!

Why? Because they asked us what tourist attractions were overrated. We thought about this idea at first. We love being tourists, that is why we started AEI. We love travel but we love giving back- the real reason we started AEI. 

We love going to new and exciting places and getting selfies with other tourists. We love meeting people at landmarks we had only dreamed of visiting. We love coming back and showing silly grins from silly friends exploring places that have been explored before, just not by us. We love being tourists. We love touring the world. So did we really think there were things that were overrated. Then we remembered the horrible torture of elephants and we remembered yes, of course there were things that were overrated- they were things that take advantage of animals, people and communities. 

Elephant rides help no one. Before elephants can be trained to have someone (or someones) on their back they have to be horribly broken as babies. We would explain it more, but it really is horrific. A quick search on google will keep you crying for days. After elephants are terribly broken, they can be dangerously shipped all over the countries they are living in. Sometimes on the back of trucks, sometimes on trains, always horrified and in danger of hurting themselves and others. Once they get to the attraction they will be working in they are typically not given enough water, socialisation or room to roam. They are chained when they are not boringly walking the same track over and over again with heavy loads on their backs. Do the elephants like this? Of course they don't. Do the communities that have elephant rides located close to them? Typically they don't either. They see these elephants languishing in the sun, in pain, bleeding and rocking due to boredom and torture. Not many communities we have talked to are excited to say they host exploitative acts. 

So why even have them anymore? Because people want to see elephants and don't know there is a better way! The better way is visiting and volunteering at elephant sanctuaries. Places were elephants are allowed to live in social groups with enough water, browse and space to walk, without chains and painful isolation. We help people volunteer in Thailand at such a beautiful and loving place, you can volunteer their, too! Check out our Elephant Sanctuary Volunteering page and write us a note if you are interested. 

There aren't too many things that we think are overrated when you travel, but we for sure think there is no good tourism when there is exploitation. 

Check our Readers Digest's article about overrated tourist attractions and see what we have to say about elephants!