Category Archives: Volunteer

Volunteer with us!


Tasikoki Volunteers! We appreciate all your hard work and effort. We know we will see you back here one day.


Cleaning up the World’s Mess, One Shovel at a Time

Cleaning up the World’s Mess,¬†One Shovel at a Time

by Caitlin Goos

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago I would have said “you couldn’t pay me enough to shovel bear poop”, so today I am wondering why I paid to scoop up a poo-trifecta of bear, monkey and bird droppings!! “Volunteering” here at the Tasikoki Wildlife Center in Northern Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, costs money. ¬†This money goes to pay for my room, food and of course is a donation to help the animals they are so desperately trying to release back into the wildlife. My first night I was sure I made a mistake; there was a spider the size of my hand in the bathroom (which I wasn’t allowed to kill, because the animal lovers also love insects); I was told I had to be up at 5:45 to work for 8 hours shovelling poop, scrubbing the algae of the inside of concrete ponds and cleaning out all the monkey enclosures, our entire dinner conversation consisted of talking sadly about the plight of animals; and I was also told there would be no meat served, because if we loved animals we wouldn’t eat them.

I came back into my room and said to one of my roommates, “I think this place is far too ‘hippy’ for me!” Little did I know that in just two short weeks I would make some amazing friends, laugh more than I have in a long time, enjoy every laborious task (well kind of), and feel passionately about saving our world’s wildlife and ecosystems. I never thought it would happen to me, but it has.

When my parents asked me what I was doing for work at Tasikoki I told them jokingly “feeding the animals papayas in the morning, and cleaning up papaya poop in the afternoon”, but it does pretty much sum things up. I have been working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, feeding, cleaning, scrubbing, and plucking branches for the animals to eat.

I have gotten dirty, sweaty, covered in substances I don’t want to think about and bitten by more bugs than I can count (every time I look there is either a mosquito sucking my blood or an ant with its head buried into my foot, or on a couple occasions partying in my pants.) I also said to my parents in the beginning, “I am not sure I even like animals enough to do all this”, but I never did mind a little hard work, so I pressed on with my duties.

Eventually, I grew to love the two orangutangs Iz and Bento who had the habit of peeing on me through their cage every time I walked by, the sun bears Binbin and Bonbon who had the nastiest poops, Betty the noisy Siamang always screaming for a mate, and the other 30 primates and hundreds of birds the center has. What I started to understand was that my money, and my hard work, was helping these animals to live a better life, and hopefully with mine and future funding be released back into the Indonesian wildlife. I probably complained more than any volunteer Tasikoki has ever had, I will admit that, but at least I kept everyone laughing.

Living in my American Bubble, I often forget that the world is suffering in so many ways or that there actually are people willing to fight for it. Willie Smits, the man who opened Tasikoki, is an inspirational man who has devoted his life to saving the world. Seeing that the animal trafficking problem was not the fault of the poor man who needed to feed his family he created a solution that, until I visited his factory and saw it functioning, was beyond my one-tiered thinking. He bought up land around northern Sulawesi, planted palm trees (which when tapped daily, will produce gallons of juice a day, which in turn can be used for making palm sugar and also can be turned into ethanol which can be used for electricity for their homes), and watched as people protected the forrest growing around their crops. Now this area is thriving not only economically, but also ecologically. If you have time check out the talk he gave (, it is truly inspiring!!!

I suggest everyone get involved in Willie’s plan to help save the world, whether it is buying palm sugar (which also has some amazing health benefits as compared to white sugar), donating food or money to Tasikoki or just getting educated on what can be done. We can change the world on step at a time, even if you start by shovelling poop!!

Moving in the right direction

Over the last two weeks here at Tasikoki there has been lots of good things happening for the animals. The two main projects being: a better enclosure for the crocodiles & the release of the brahminy kites

Two of the Tasikoki crocodiles have been living in small, concrete pens for a few year now. The group Enrich, a team of Australian volunteers, helped us initiated the refortification of the pre-existing crocodile enclosure, which was severely overrun and dilapidated. On Sunday of this week the enclosure was completed on account of the hard work and collaboration between Enrich groups, Tasikoki volunteers & staff. The enclosure was finished at 12:00 noon and by 3:00pm Bu, the crocodile was the first to be let out into this new enclosure. She now has a little under 1 square hectare of mangrove swamp to move about freely. Tasikoki staff has decided to give her a week to acclimatize to her new environment before the introduction of Aya, the second crocodile awaiting movement.

Brahminy Kites
Tasikoki has two brahminy kites whose release has been in the works for a few months. Their rehabilitation cage was constructed in the fall and this week there has been the final arrangements made to move the kites to there rehabilitation aviary. We have had a raptor expert on site this week from Java, Gunawan from of Suaka Elang Gunawan has been helping us decided upon methods and procedures for this process. The kites have shown the ability to hunt live fish from a large bucket within their current enclosure. Which shows promise regarding their eventual release. As soon as we get a response regarding where we can test the bloods for birds in Sulawesi, we will finish the health screens on these two individuals and move them down the beach (rehabilitation aviary).

How can help further these projects or upcoming projects regarding birds & reptiles?

-Fund the Health screens for the kites. $100 USD / bird
-Donate money for health screening the rest of our 151 birds. Each bird health screen cost $100 USD
-Volunteer and help us upgrade existing enclosures and increase animal welfare standard on site. Volunteer Fee: 2 weeks / $770 USD . 1 month/ $995 USD
-Volunteer to do research & observation on the kites once they are in the rehabilitation aviary or post release monitoring. Inquire for dates & fees associated.
-Donate money for the construction of a terrapin enclosure in the mangrove swamp. Inquire for costs.
-Donate money for the construction of large, speciated bird aviaries.
Inquire for costs.
-Help us fundraise through this cause or other means at home
-Adopt an animal

For all inquires please contact us at:
[email protected]