The Wildlife Conservation Society was founded in 1895. Back then it was called the New York Zoological Society and its main project was to create a zoo in the Bronx, fittingly called The Bronx Zoo. Today the Wildlife Conservation Society is an NGO (non-governmental organization). We hear all manner of opinions about NGOs, some good, some bad. There have even been a few documentary film-style investigations on the subject. As the name would suggest, they are not technically affiliated with a government, but that is slightly misleading. Many NGOs work with governments on specific projects or policies, though they exclude government workers from membership. Of course, when you are a large organization like Amnesty International or the Wildlife Conservation Society, politics are an inevitable part of the game, and that turns off a lot of potential volunteers. Let’s remember though, many NGOs do real, responsible work, and volunteering with one presents many potential benefits.
While some people might think it silly, one of the people I admire most is the late, great Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. Yes, he was goofy and flamboyant. Sure, he hammed it up for the cameras. But when it came down to caring, generosity, and real work to make a difference, Irwin was a hero. While he wasn’t a volunteer himself—Irwin ran his family’s Australia Zoo—he welcomed volunteers from all over the world, encouraging them to learn about the Australian wildlife, and to spread his message of conservation.