Photo Gallery: International Cat Day coming Aug. 8

Cat lovers who will be traveling abroad on Aug. 8 and want to get their feline fix, take note: International Cat Day will be celebrated on Thursday around the globe.

Here are some places – assembled by Canada-based GoVoluntouring– where you can get up close and aid a big cat or a regular-sized kitty. The opportunities range from aiding lions in need of rehab in Zimbabwe to helping feral cats in Mexico.

Here are some options:

Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs Find Sanctuary in Namibia

Na-ankuse sanctuary provides volunteers with the rare opportunity to work closely with, and actively participate in the conservation of African wildlife. The sanctuary provides refuge for orphaned and injured critters  including a number of lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Volunteers at the sanctuary will feed the animals, take them on walks and go on game counts.

Lion Rehab in Zimbabwe

In 1975, more than 200,000 lions roamed the African continent. Unfortunately, estimates from 2002 put the number of lions between 23,000 and 39,000, representing an 80-90 percent decline in less than 30 years. Volunteers can join African Impact on its Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project and get involved in researching lions’ behavior.

Managing Feral Cats in Mexico

The large number of feral cats living on city streets is a global problem. While many of these animals are abandoned pets, most are truly feral – having been born and dying in the streets. These feral animals live on the edges of society and face many health risks. Starvation and disease result in an average life span of only one to two years. Volunteers are needed to help teach children responsible pet ownership and assist in a free spay and neuter clinic.

White Lion Conservation Project in South Africa

The critically endangered White Lion has been naturally birthed in one place only - the Timbavati region of South Africa. The last white lion was seen in the wild in 1994, after which time they were technically extinct in the wild. This is a volunteer opportunity to work with the "world-first" reintroduction of White Lions back to the wild in their endemic area. Volunteers form part of the conservation monitoring and tracking team, and have a rare opportunity to gain authentic field experience whilst making a valuable contribution to the long-term conservation of the white lions.

Cheetah Reintroduction in South Africa

Volunteers work hands-on with cheetahs and learn more about this endangered species with PoD Volunteer. Travelers will be part of this pioneering reintroduction project, which aims to see cheetahs back in their natural habitat. By spreading the word about the plight of the cheetah, volunteers act as ambassadors for the project, raising awareness of the problems they face and what the project is doing to help them. They will be recording data, which allows a profile to be made up for each cheetah so its health and condition can be closely monitored. They also can help make improvements to the enclosures and reserve.

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