Inspiration

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!

Everyday Should Be World Wildlife Day...

When you were younger we bet that you had a favourite animal. Do you remember what it was? Maybe it was a horse that you imagined running across endless fields? Perhaps it was a majestic elephant - or even a herd of elephants? Was it a sea turtle you once saw tucking itself into corral to find a snack? Maybe it was a beautiful rainbow macaw flying through tropical jungles or a monkey who watched you from its forest home. Remember how they felt so distant, so wild and free?

Well today they need your help to stay that way.  But the good news is, they are no longer distant dreams. Now that you are grown up, you can volunteer with these animals and help conserve their populations world wide. From dolphin conservation in Croatia to wildlife rehabilitation in Guatemala, we have programs for all you animal lovers. Whatever resonated with you when you were younger will benefit from your help now. And we think it's the perfect year for you to live your childhood dreams.

It's not World Wildlife Day (that was March 3rd) but why not make it every day? And what better way to celebrate than to apply to volunteer with your favourite childhood animals!