This summer, Tuskegee University junior Arianna Holmes, who is majoring in animal science, spent two weeks in South Africa helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with the study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, the Covington, Georgia, native served with a small team that volunteered at the Lory Park Zoo in Johannesburg, helping to care for and study African animals.
Students working as part of the Loop Abroad team learned from the conservation professionals at the Lory Park Zoo, one of only six in Africa accredited by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The zoo leads conservation efforts such as research in black-footed cats and education programs in local schools, and has recently been in the news for providing radiation cancer treatment for Chaos the lion.
Holmes and her team observed and worked with veterinarians to care for a variety of species — from big cats such as lions and tigers to primates such as lemurs and gibbons. They studied the needs of these animals in order to understand how their diets, enclosures and enrichments are designed to keep them physically and mentally healthy.
“This was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Holmes explained. “I gained so much hands-on experience I would not be able to do in the United States, and got to work side-by-side with some amazing vets. This experience solidified my desire to become a veterinarian!”
Loop Abroad has animal science and veterinary programs for students and young adults age 14 to 30, and offers financial aid and fundraising help. Programs range from two weeks in the summer to a full semester abroad, and college credit through Iowa Wesleyan University is available.
By following a study abroad model instead of a “voluntourism” model, Loop focuses on educating its students so that they can contribute and serve in meaningful ways. It also works with locally run animal welfare organizations so that students contribute to long-term improvement on the ground in the countries they visit. With programs in Thailand, Ecuador, South Africa and Australia, Loop Abroad is able to support animal welfare and conservation around the world because of its students and their dedication to helping animals in need.
“This is our 10th summer of providing engaging field courses around the globe, and we continue to be so impressed by our students and their eagerness to learn about the world around them,” said the program’s managing director, Jane Stine. “By partnering with locally run, leading conservation organizations, we help our students to learn from the experts and to understand the connection of conservation and culture, and we’re always so proud to see what they go on to do after their study abroad experience.”
Students interested in participating can inquire or apply at www.LoopAbroad.com. Admission to its veterinary programs is selective based on a review of applicants’ transcripts, admissions essays, and professional references.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Loop Abroad for contributing this news item and photos. Photos © 2019 Loop Abroad.
© 2019, Tuskegee University