It is important for everybody to become connected to the issues facing humanity and the planet, and empowered to realise solutions. APE has developed volunteer programs to achieve this goal. Volunteers or participants pay money to fund the enhancement of ongoing conservation projects and physically contribute in the implementation thereof with their manpower in activities such as interpretation, husbandry, enrichment, infrastructure building, rehabilitation and release of animals, habitat restoration as well as community involvement and education.

APE terms this “connecting everyday people to endangered animals “. The volunteers/participants have the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the social and environmental issues of that project, and form an appreciation of the realities of conservation and human development. Ultimately, volunteers/participants relate their experiences back to their everyday lives, broadening their understanding and cultural horizons, and giving them further opportunities to make a difference in their lives.

General Information

Participation Terms & Conditions


APE Malaysia projects are not tours. APE Malaysia projects have specific animal welfare, community and habitat restoration outcomes that need to be achieved and participants will partake and contribute towards achieving these objectives. APE Malaysia projects are fun and fulfilling because the projects make a real difference not only while you are on the project but also in the long term even after you leave. We strive to ensure learning, contribution and satisfaction levels are very high on every project.

Our projects have targets and schedules that need to be followed. Your participation and contribution is key to a successful project because project site partners have high expectations of APE Malaysia participants – YOU. Therefore participants are expected to contribute their best while on the project. The best experience for participants is created when you bring positive energy and put in everything you can.

You will work hard, get dirty and sweat a lot, but we think that you will enjoy every second of it.


1. Project Coordinators

APE Malaysia projects are fully supervised by APE Malaysia Project Coordinators who are passionate individuals with vested interest in the animals, people and environment they work in.

a. The Project Coordinators will be working alongside you on a daily basis and are responsible to ensure that:

i. Health & safety of standards and practices are

ii. Work targets are achieved;

iii. Full briefings, training and guidance are provided onsite;

iv. Participants have an awesome experience.

b. Participants are welcome to share and debate ideas but agree to take all final instructions from the Project Coordinators and respect their decisions while on projects;

c. Project Coordinators are NOT tour guides or guest relationship managers. We will work to make sure that participants are comfortable. We can advise on off-day activities but the arranging of logistics and cost of those activities are the responsibility of the participant. If they do take the extra step to help you during your stay, they are doing it because you are a kind and hardworking participant and they have chosen to share their time with you.

2. Project Duration, Dates & Days

a. Project duration ranges between 12 days to 3 months;

b. Project Dates differ from project to project. Please refer to the Project Manual and the Project Date Chart for details;

c. Arrival Day: The first day of the project is the day you are expected to arrive. Arrival transfer is provided from the nearest airport if accurate arrival details have been provided;

d. Project Days: Participants will be expected to work up to 8 hours a day on designated projects. Goals and outcomes will be clearly outlined. Participants will be expected to put in their best and be part of a team to make the project a success.

e. Off Days: Participants are given days off on projects lasting longer than 12 days. Participants will not be working on these designated days and can choose to travel and explore the surrounding areas at their own expense;

f. Departure Day: The final day of the project is the day you are expected to fly off / leave the project and project accommodation. Departure transfer is provided to the nearest airport if accurate departure details have been provided.

3. Project Manual

a. A detailed Project Manual will be sent to participants upon confirmation of placement;

b. This Project Manual will have all the details you will require to prepare you for your project including pick up and arrival details, itinerary, packing suggestions, Dos and Don’ts, vaccination requirements etc.

4. Insurance and Health & Safety

a. There are inherent risks in working with wildlife in captivity and in the tropical rainforests where there are numerous wildlife both known and unknown. Participants that sign up for the project are aware of these risks and will ensure they are healthy enough to contribute positively to the project. Participants will also be expected to behave in a responsible manner to reduce such risks;

b. Signing on as a participant is entirely at the participant’s own risk. Having a valid personal insurance policy to cover emergency or health treatment is a pre-condition to participation. Proof of this must be provided to the Project Coordinator on site. APE Malaysia will not be held responsible for any injury, death, loss or damage to participants or their property.

c. Participants are responsible for any loss and/or damage to their personal property, and damages cannot be claimed in any eventuality.

d. Participants on APE Malaysia projects agree that they:

i. will not interact in any way with animals and/or wildlife without the express permission and supervision of the Project Coordinator;

ii. are aware that there are inherent risks in working with wildlife in captivity and in the tropical rainforests and will thus behave in a responsible manner to reduce such risks;

iii. will take instructions from Project Coordinators to ensure Health & Safety standards are met;

iv. will not wander into the rainforest without guidance;

v. will respect the local culture and traditions and behave in a locally acceptable manner in both attire and conduct;

vi. will be on time for all activities and adhere to the set working time and off days;

vii. will contribute positively to the team and the project;

e. All participants on APE Malaysia projects accept that they are solely responsible for their own health, safety and belongings and that they fully understand and accept the conditions outlined above. All participants are required to sign a disclaimer and provide emergency contact information before the start of the projects.

5. Meals and Accommodation

a. Accommodation is shared. Single accommodation may be available depending on project sites and subject to extra charges;

b. Meal plans vary according to project sites and facilities. Self-catering options come with an equipped kitchen and nearby shops for groceries. Other options are to have meals at local food stalls. Catered projects will be serving local meals cooked by villagers.

c. Participants with dietary needs on catered projects must take into consideration that such dietary needs may not be met due to local availability, and must be prepared to make adjustments accordingly. Vegetarian diets are catered to.

6. Airport Meet & Greet

a. APE Malaysia will only pick up from airports on the first day of the project and only if ACCURATE flight details have been provided at least 14 days prior to the project start date;

b. Any deviation from the flight details provided will result in extra charges to be borne by the participant;

c. Flight details required for pick up at the arrival airport:

i. Airline

ii. Flight number

iii. Departure details: date, time, airport

iv. Arrival details: date, time, airport

d. There may be more than one airport in your destination city hence the right airport is crucial to ensure a timely pick up;

e. Airport transfer is available only on the last day of the project. Flight details are to be provided in advance. Airport transfers are not available on other days;

f. Airport pickups and drop-offs are only available for airports in Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan unless otherwise mentioned in the project manual.


1. Participants to APE Malaysia projects come from all over the world and range from various backgrounds. We welcome people from all walks of life and professions. All we require is a passion for animals, people and the environment, the willingness to work towards the project goals and an open mind. You do not need a specific background because our dedicated Project Coordinator will guide you the entire way;

2. The working language is English. All communication between APE Malaysia and participants will be conducted in English. The local working language may differ depending on project sites;

3. Participants must be:

a. 18 years and above (except family projects);

b. Able to contribute to the project physically;

c. Willing to abide by local customs and traditions;

d. Full of initiative, able to work independently and with a team;

e. Friendly, hardworking and willing to get really sweaty and dirty.

4. Participants are responsible for flights to and from the projects, visa application and fees, medical checks and treatments required for the project


1. Participants shall be on time for all activities and be present on every assigned work day;

2. Participants on our projects will be in close contact with wildlife, and as wild animals, they can be unpredictable and dangerous, and thus there may be some risk involved. In order to increase safety, participants agree to:

a. Follow safety instructions of the Project Coordinators at all times;

b. Not interact in any way with animals and/or wildlife without the express permission and supervision of the Project Coordinator;

c. Smoke, eat and drink only at designated areas;

d. Arrive at work in a healthy and clear state of mind;

e. Immediately inform Project Coordinators if they feel unwell or unfit for work.

3. Attire while at work:

a. Not too loose or too tight. Comfortable clothing for one to easily manoeuvre in for safety purposes is best;

b. Pants/trousers that cover the knees for both men and women;

c. Clothing that covers the shoulders and midriff for both men and women;

d. Clothing that covers the cleavage for women;

e. Wellington boots and socks.

4. Participants will respect local customs and culture in attire and behaviour while on the project site;

5. In villages people are more conservative and participants are expected to respect their local culture including not behaving in loud and raucous manner and dressing conservatively;

6. Public displays of affection, loud and explicit behaviours are not allowed while on project and at project sites;

7. Alcohol & drugs are strictly prohibited on project site and at project accommodation. Drugs are illegal in Malaysia and the use or transport of it carries the death penalty. Participants will be immediately removed from the projects as a result;

8. Personal and sexual relationships are prohibited between participants and staff throughout the duration of the project. Participants will be immediately removed from the projects and staff will lose their job as a result;

9. Photography is allowed in public areas only. Photography in restricted areas is strictly prohibited and doing so can result in the immediate termination of the project.

10. APE Malaysia reserves the right to terminate a participant’s placement, without refund, should any of these conditions be ignored and/or disregarded, intentionally or not.

Project Site

Melaka Zoo & Night Safari, Ayer Keroh, Peninsular Malaysia

The Melaka Zoo & Night Safari is Malaysia’s second largest zoo. It is based approximately 130km from Kuala Lumpur. Set up in 1963, Melaka Zoo is a privately run zoo set in the town of Ayer Keroh, Melaka. The zoo is just 15km from the historical centre of Melaka.

Situated on 54 acres of lush greenery, Melaka Zoo has approximately 1,000 individual animals making up more than 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The zoo’s long-term objective is to develop into an open-concept zoo and is in the midst of making changes to their systems and protocols.

See our volunteering programmes at Melaka Zoo & Night Safari

Sight-Seeing Options

Extend your stay and see all the other attractions that Kuala Lumpur offers including a visit to the famous Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves, the Lake Gardens, the Islamic Art Museum, fantastic shopping and a unique multi-racial cultural experience. Kuala Lumpur is also the gateway to all other towns and cities of Malaysia and within the region.

Nearer to the zoo, Melaka offers a variety of places to visit including Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary, Mini Malaysia & Mini ASEAN Park, Ayer Keroh Lake, Ayer Keroh Botanical Park, Orang Asli (Aborigines) Museum, World’s Bee Museum, Melaka Wonderland Theme Park & Resort, Museums and Melaka Heritage Trail. In history, Melaka was well known as the Malay trading centre in the East.

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sabah, Borneo Malaysia

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, better known as BSBCC, is based approximately 19km from Sandakan town. It is located next to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and is also linked to existing forest trails and boardwalks.

Currently, the centre has 9 dedicated staff and has had over 900 local and foreign volunteers. Their goal is to promote sun bear conservation in Sabah through holistic approaches that involve animal welfare, rehabilitation, education and research.

The centre currently has 2 bear houses that are housing 28 bears as well as 1.14 hectares of natural forest enclosure where the bears can roam free during the day (and night). There is also an observation platform for visitors to spend time learning about the bears through personal observation and sharing of information by the staff of BSBCC.

See our volunteering programmes at BSBCC .

Sight-Seeing Options

Visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Turtle Island, explore Sandakan, climb Mount Kinabalu - the highest peak of Southeast Asia or make a trip to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, for a tourist experience. Or visit numerous other natural and cultural wonders in Sabah.

Lower Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Borneo Malaysia

The Kinabatangan River (Sungai Kinabatangan) is located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia, with a length of 560 kilometres from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan.

Each year, the lashing rains of the northeast monsoon cause the river to swell rapidly. Unable to disgorge into the sea quickly enough, the river frequently overflows its banks and spreads across the flat land of its lower reaches, creating a huge floodplain.

Kinabatangan is known for its remarkable wildlife and fascinating habitats such as limestone caves, dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, freshwater swamp forest, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.

The ecology of the upper reaches of the river has been severely disrupted by excessive logging and clearing of land for plantations. However, the original lowland forests and mangrove swamps near the coast have largely survived and provide sanctuary for a relatively decent population of crocodiles, and contain some of Borneo and Southeast Asia's highest concentrations of wildlife. Of special note are Borneo's indigenous proboscis monkeys and orang-utans, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros. The area is also known for its great variety of birdlife, including the storm’s stork and 8 varieties off hornbills.

The entry point to the Lower Kinabatangan is the quaint town of Sandakan, approximately 30 minutes by flight and 6 hours overland from Kota Kinabalu, state capital of Sabah.

See our volunteering or education programmes at Lower Kinabatangan .

Sight-Seeing Options

Visit Turtle Island, explore Sandakan, climb Mount Kinabalu - the highest peak of Southeast Asia or make a trip to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, for a tourist experience. Or visit numerous other natural and cultural wonders in Sabah.



The threats to the survival of the orang-utan are numerous and difficult to remedy. Orang-utans are also slow to reproduce, making their population slow to recover and putting their species at risk of extinction.

Each APE Malaysia site has the shared vision of increasing the size and health of Bornean orang-utan populations. We also work to improve the lives of the local community including children.

While APE believes it is best to conserve any species in its natural habitat, we also see an important conservation and educational role played by zoos. Breeding programmes with the aim of increasing numbers of orang-utans and preserve genetic diversity is an increasingly important responsibility of good zoos. They also play a crucial role in educating the public and generating much needed funds for conservation that could well contribute towards rehabilitation and release of orang-utans and other wildlife back to the wild.

At the zoo, we work in collaboration with zoo staff and volunteers to explore the use of enrichment in developing and maintaining a full behavioural repertoire in captive orang-utans as well as sun bears, elephants, big cats etc.

At the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, we plant trees on land allocated by local authorities to us in high priority areas that form part of the habitat of orang-utans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, hornbills and more! These areas need urgent reforestation to ensure the Corridor of Life is maintained for the wildlife of Borneo.


Our planet’s ecological health is intricately connected to human wellbeing.

More than 1.35 billion people, many of whom are living in indigenous communities, inhabit some of the biologically richest and most threatened areas of Earth.

APE believes that our projects will be most successful when we engage with local communities making the most of their knowledge and expertise and recognising them as one of the key stakeholders in any conservation plan.

In all sites, APE works towards addressing people’s needs by helping them to understand and explore their relationship with the natural environment, whilst encouraging responsible consumption and land use and facilitating sustainable alternatives that provide economic benefit to local communities.

We also aim to instil in the younger generations a resurgent appreciation of their environment and a desire to cherish and protect it.

Conservation Objectives


Melaka Zoo & Night Safari

To work with the zoos in Malaysia to increase the education of the public as to the issues that influence the survival of Malaysian endangered species, to work with the zoos to improve on knowledge development, enrichment and interpretation of the animals within their care, and establish successful conservation breeding programs for orang-utans and other endangered Malaysian animals.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

To work with BSBCC to increase the education of the public about sun bears in the stage of rehabilitation and process of releasing them back to the wild, to work with the centre to improve conditions of sun bears in captivity and rehabilitation through creating environmental and food enrichment, and raise awareness on responsible living and travelling among tourists, local community and students.


Kinabatangan River

To work with ecotourism partners, NGOs, local communities and local authorities to successfully establish and maintain the reforestation of green corridors along the entire length of the river Kinabatangan, in order to reconnect orang-utan and pygmy elephant populations, maintain genetically viable populations and ensure the sustainable use of the riverine forests for human development.

Associate project sites

Matang Wildlife Centre

To work with the local authority, the local communities, NGOs and other stakeholders to re-establish a successful rehabilitation and release program at Matang Wildlife Centre and to develop it into a global centre of excellence. This will be achieved by focusing on aiding the Centre in terms of husbandry, enrichment, infrastructure, rehabilitation and release, as well as knowledge transfer, enhanced interrelationships between relevant partners and sustainable funding streams.

The conservation goal here is to work with our partners towards genetically sustainable orang-utan populations in large, well-protected habitats within Sarawak in order to secure the survival of the species.

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