ZoZo spent her entire life in a shelter in Athens, Greece. Now, she’s an American.
It took the efforts of one incredibly determined woman; a 6,158 mile flight from Greece; a special passport; and a group of tourists — yes, tourists — to get her to Denver. Nearly a year later, this 7-year-old dog has a loving home in Colorado where many journeys like hers begin.
ZoZo is one of the thousands of animals (and people) helped by a Colorado-based company that offers tourists much, much more than a beach and a piña colada. Inside/Out Humanitourism Adventures is the brainchild of Zoe Katsulos. Travelers spend time volunteering for a number of projects, then get to experience some spectacular adventures.
This year alone, tourists are offered opportunities to help people and street animals recover from the earthquakes in Nepal, preserve and protect injured chimpanzees in Africa, monitor and improve nesting areas for endangered sea turtles in Greece, and upgrade shelters or spay and neuter dogs and cats in Mexico. “We rescue animals [with] special needs or in special circumstances with critical needs,” says Zoe. Then, she says, participants get to enjoy “some cool ecotourism experiences, like snorkeling [and] zip line canopy tours.”
For the more adventurous, there are opportunities to live and work side by side with people of the Maasai tribe in a tree-planting project at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. In addition to planting Jatropha trees used for biofuel, you can participate in local rituals, ceremonies, and other cultural aspects of their lives. In Nepal, visitors have the opportunity to trek through the Himalayan mountains. That trip coincides with the five-day Tihar Hindu festival. Cows, crows, dogs, and others are worshipped during the celebrations. Street dogs are often dressed in flower garlands with the sacred bright, red bindis (dots) placed on their foreheads. National Geographic, USA Today, and CNN are among those that have featured their trips.
Zoe is a nature photographer who’s been leading outdoor travel adventures in Colorado for years. About eight years ago, she decided to take it international and created Inside/Out.
“My favorite parts,” she says, “are seeing the life changes for both the animals and the people who travel with us.”
Jen Mazza, a regular Inside/Out traveler, says the experiences are “absolutely amazing. It’s something you can’t put a price on.” Groups are small and numbers are limited so everyone can have what Zoe calls “authentic experiences and authentic connections with the people, the culture, and the land.”
Each trip has a set price, and some of that money goes directly to the international groups they work with. The organization also relies heavily on donations. Vets and vet techs are often sponsored to travel with them, like on their most recent trip to Manzanillo, Mexico where hundreds of dogs and cats were spayed and neutered. Once again, several special needs dogs were flown back to Denver. All were found injured and homeless, scavenging through the streets. Today, they’re playing in the Colorado snow and getting ready to meet their new families. I’m guessing this trip probably did involve a beach and some well-deserved piña coladas.
For more information about Inside/Out adventures or to donate you can go to Humanitourism.org.