Updated for 2023-2024
Are you considering a career as a vet tech or veterinarian, and want to know if the field is right for you? Or do you want to start your own business to help struggling animals? If you like being with animals of all shapes, sizes, and breeds, and you want to help improve their lives and quality of care, then you’re on the right track.
A vet tech performs a variety of tasks, just like a nurse for humans, to support a veterinarian help care for patients. This career can be achieved with an associates degree in college, so it’s quicker, and there are part-time options that can fit into your school schedule.
The veterinarian is an animal medical doctor who completes doctoral degrees from accredited schools of veterinary medicine. This is a four-year commitment beyond your undergraduate degree, and admission is highly competitive. There are 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, and fewer than 50% of applicants are accepted. There are ways to increase your chances, however.
First, complete your undergraduate degree, and make sure you’ve included basic courses in animal physiology and anatomy, biology, zoology, animal science, chemistry, and microbiology. During your junior and senior years, make sure you’ve contacted the accredited veterinary schools to comply with academic admission requirements.
Another way you can gain entrance is to acquire practical, hands-on experience that will prepare you for certification in a veterinary specialty, including surgery and internal medicine. You can find a volunteer animal clinic, or join an animal care program overseas through International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) that puts you in contact with a variety of animals, helping you get in tune with their unique healthcare needs. Another great international volunteer organization to check out is GoEco, which is currently offering a grant that applies to several of the animal care volunteer projects and internships.
Veterinary internships abroad abound as well. Through Intern Abroad HQ, you can gain practical, hands-on experience in places such as Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala, Greece, or Spain. Another organization to consider is Projects Abroad, a leader in international internships and volunteer projects, you can do a veterinary medicine internship in Romania or an equine therapy internship in Argentina (work with horses!)
When you volunteer or intern abroad in animal care, your medical school application essay that discusses your ability to care for sick or diseased African Penguins, Vervet monkeys, or giant sea tortoises is impossible to ignore! Your letter of recommendation from a director of an international animal reserve in Africa or rehabilitation center in Costa Rica may go a lot further than your GPA.
Spending time learning how to help and heal exotic animals means you’ll bring that experience home with you, and your knowledge of penguins, parrots, tortoises, lizards, monkeys, and more becomes a valuable asset at veterinary school and when you graduate to private practice. You’ll be the exotic animal expert and helpline that other vets call upon when they don’t have the answer or need to refer patients to a specialist.
From fins to fur, to feathers, if you’re interested in learning how to medically treat ill or injured animals, you can find a short volunteer placement or a longer internship opportunity that benefits others while boosting your educational and career prospects! Even if you don’t have the prerequisite veterinarian skills to treat our friends with paws or tails, you can partake in wildlife veterinary projects to demonstrate your passion for caring for animals. One wildlife conservation organization you will definitely want to check out is African Impact, which offers incredible wildlife veterinary, animal rescue, and conservation projects throughout Africa!
Featured Volunteer and Intern Abroad Programs
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), a responsible volunteer organization, connects thousands of travelers with opportunities overseas each year. Since 2007, IVHQ has placed more than 130,000 people on affordable projects – volunteers work alongside local organizations and NGOs in more than 40 countries worldwide. Its programs are designed to deliver sustainable value for the environment and the communities, and IVHQ keeps fees affordable while having a significant global impact.
In addition to many other volunteer opportunities, IVHQ offers international placements in the areas of animal care and wildlife conservation, from wild elephant conservation in Sri Lanka to sea turtle conservation in Bali. Learn how to protect natural landscapes and techniques for studying and monitoring native and endangered species on a veterinary volunteer placement or internship abroad. Choose to work in a shelter or volunteer animal clinic, providing support and feeding and caring for domestic animals, or focus on wildlife rehabilitation and release programs.
IVHQ supports internship placements as well for travelers studying to be veterinarians or vet techs – contact IVHQ’s Campus Support Team to learn more about their offerings. University groups and individuals may coordinate their plans with IVHQ for meaningful travel experiences that enable cross-cultural learning and develop important career competencies.
To learn more about the variety of IVHQ animal care programs abroad, select an option below:
- Bali – Ubud – On the Turtle Conservation project, you will work alongside a local team on the small island of Nusa Penida to help protect the endangered sea turtles of Indonesia.
- Cambodia – On the Animal Care project, you will provide support at an animal shelter for less fortunate paws: abandoned cats and dogs in Phnom Penh.
- Costa Rica – On the Turtle Conservation project, you can expect to work at one of four beach locations around Costa Rica: Ostional, Drake Bay, Junquillal (based on the Pacific Coast) and Parismina (based on the Caribbean Coast).
- Guatemala – Choose from a range of animal-focused placements, including a dog and cat shelter, a volunteer animal clinic, and an exotic animal refuge populated by crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles.
- Jamaica – Work in a shelter for abandoned dogs in Jamaica, providing human company, medical treatment, and playtime to support their health and wellbeing.
- Mexico – Merida – Support the work of nonprofits providing proper care for abandoned dogs and cats, keeping them healthy and companionable, and working towards the goal of adoption.
- Peru – Cusco – Work at a small, university-operated zoo/rescue center or at a dog shelter, providing care and medical resources for a variety of animals. The zoo has different species from the jungle and the Andean highlands, including condors, eagles, tropical birds, monkeys, felines, bears, llamas, deer, and turtles. The projects are located either in Cusco or Lima.
- Portugal – Work in a conservation center focusing on wolf conservation, education, and also preserving the environment for wolves. The wolves that live at the conservation center arrive from zoos, illegal trapping, or illegal captivity, and are not able to be released into the wild.
- Romania – Support the welfare and protection of animals at a local dog shelter, providing companionship, medical treatment, and opportunities for play.
- Sri Lanka – Another amazing turtle conservation in Sir Lanka, assist in government funded turtle rehabilitation as well as boost conservation efforts
- Tanzania – On the Animal Welfare project, you will have the opportunity to work alongside a local veterinarian for the treatment of various domestic animals, such as dogs, rabbits, chickens, cows, pigs, and other livestock. Travel around Arusha to assess the animals’ conditions and administer treatments.
- Victoria Falls – Gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with ongoing research in a private game reserve within Victoria Falls, home to a wealth of native wildlife, including ‘Big 5’ animals – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo.
Founded in 2006, GoEco has become a leader in environmental and wildlife initiatives. Recognized as the 2018 Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by GoAbroad, GoEco has placed more than 17,000 people in programs abroad, including many in veterinary volunteer programs and internships. Their focus on making an impact has earned them praise from major publications, such as The Boston Globe. The United Nations has even endorsed GoEco for their efforts to combat desertification.
When it comes to programs to protect animals, the work GoEco has been doing is incredible. Join them on of the following veterinary projects:
Gain hands-on animal care experience in South Africa! You’ll work in Chintsa, a gorgeous village in the Wild Coast region of Eastern Cape province. As a veterinary intern in South Africa, you’ll care for African wildlife, agricultural livestock, and domestic animals. Expect to do everything from assist with wildlife rehabilitation to manage farm animals to help animal shelters treat abandoned pets. This veterinary internship abroad offers any aspiring vet the chance to learn about how to care for a wide range of animals. And you’ll get to see amazing wildlife up close. Giraffes, rhinos, and buffalo…oh my!
Fees for this veterinary internship in South Africa begin at $1,990 for two weeks. It gets cheaper the longer you stay, with six weeks costing $4,710 (lodging and meals included). Get more details and apply here!
Home to more than 90 endangered species of animals, this is another veterinary internship based in a wildlife ranch in Western Cape. This program is open to veterinary students or those interested in animal medicine without experience. And what’s so unique about this program is it allows you to match your needs or university requirements, such as a specific research topic, to the needs of the program. The program is flexible to meet your needs to fulfill your internship requirements as requested. You can choose to observe and shadow the ranch curator on daily chores with the animals; or for veterinary students, you can shadow their on-call veterinarian on surgery and medical procedures. Other daily tasks include preparing and feeding the animals, cleaning their enclosures, and animal training. You will be able to include all these experiences and skills in your resume! Better yet, this internship is eligible for the 3rd week free grant!
Want to specialize in wildlife rescue? Then this veterinary internship in Malawi is for you. During your internship with GoEco, you’ll perform a range of tasks. You’ll help with:
- Veterinary exams
- Emergency surgeries
- Animal husbandry
- Orphaned animal care
- Clinical research
How hands-on your role is depends on your experience and education. You’ll learn how care works for all sorts of wildlife, such as vervet monkeys, antelope, and zebras.
When you’re not working, socialize with other interns, immerse yourself in the local culture, and visit Lake Malawi, a natural treasure. Fees for this vet internship start at $1,780 for two weeks ($5,600 for 12 weeks). Find out more and apply here!
This amazing project is great for volunteers to get experience with a dog care program in a renowned and ethical dog shelter in Sri Lanka. There are over 2000 dogs who are injured, diseased, and malnourished. They need medical attention as well as emotional well being to be nursed back to health by volunteers. You will help with routine care such as playing and socializing, grooming, feeding, etc. and some medical care such as in rehabilitation for disabled dogs. As there is a veterinary clinic on site, you will get to observe medical treatments as well as life-saving care. Also, you may get to assist in their neutering and rabies vaccination programs. Then, in your free time, there will be lots to explore including the many beautiful beaches, temples, yoga sessions, etc. For more information, click here!
Experience Costa Rica with this unique program! Volunteers will work closely with injured birds, monkeys, sloths and other Costa Rican wildlife at the Alajuela Rescue Center, and immerse themselves into the local culture through Spanish language lessons, exploring the capital of San Jose and living with a host family. You will help over 130 wildlifes with their routine care such as feeding, providing a clean and safe environment, as well as helping on-site vet as needed. Other tasks may include gardening, facility care, community projects, etc. Click here to get started!
GoEco has many more animal and wildlife volunteer care programs you can check out to expand your exposure in the veterinarian world!
Maximo Nivel is a leader in international education, study abroad, and travel programs, and operates four educational institutes in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Maximo Nivel trains and certifies world-class ESL teachers, and it offers Spanish language learning courses, internship opportunities, gap year programs, high school abroad, and more. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has placed 25,000 students, volunteers, and other travelers to Latin America on high-quality, safe, and affordable programs, while enabling people to experience the world through education, adventure, and cultural travel.
An internship with Maximo Nivel helps you to develop a new set of professional skills with a global scope, ensuring your success and setting you apart. You can focus on the practical work experience you need with animals, develop your Spanish language skills, and build a network of international colleagues. Maximo Nivel offers four-week practicums and eight-week (or longer) internships. You’ll work with an international internship advisor who will meet with you for regularly scheduled meetings, or whenever you need to consult, and to review your work at the end of your program, making sure you’ve met university requirements and that your final project is complete.
Travel to Guatemala or Peru with Maximo Nivel and volunteer or intern with animals and wildlife. Choose a veterinary or animal care placement at a specialized rescue center in Cusco, Peru, providing love and medical assistance for abandoned dogs. Or, if you are interested in herpetology, join an amphibian and reptile rescue center in Guatemala. A third choice is a small university-run zoo in Peru.
Tasks you’ll perform at the Cusco Dog Shelter include providing medical treatment, grooming, love, and other daily care for the dogs. You’ll bathe, brush, and walk them, provide basic obedience training, and clean cages. Education is important to this program, and you’ll assist with public information campaigns and fundraising to pay for spay/neuter programs. There are more than 300 dogs and 100 cats in the Cusco shelter, and Maximo’s shelter in Guatemala houses more than 50 dogs.
Maximo’s Zoo in Peru cares for endangered species and operates a rehabilitation and release program. This placement is a great choice for zoology or biology students, with its academic setting. Work revolves around the day-to-day maintenance and operation of the zoo, including animal feeding, cage cleaning, light construction work, and conservation.
The Amphibian and Reptile Rescue Center in Guatemala places you alongside other volunteers supporting the treatment of injured or sick animals, including crocodiles and boa constrictors, and releasing healthy adult animals back into the wild. Each day you’ll help to maintain the center, feed animals, clean cages, perform conservation work, and greet visitors to the center.
You can expect to work four-hour shifts throughout the week. No experience is necessary to apply, but you must be at least 17 years of age, and flexible since tasks can be based upon season and project needs. Duration is one week or longer, with program fees starting at $645. Read more and register here.
Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has placed more than 125,000 volunteers and interns abroad. Recognized as the 2020 Best Volunteer Abroad Program by Volunteer Forever, people choose Projects Abroad for their impactful programs, transparency, and superb support. Across 349 participant reviews on Volunteer Forever, they’ve received a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. That’s a testament to the good work they’re doing.
As one of the largest volunteer and intern abroad organizations, Projects Abroads oversees veterinary medicine internships and animal care volunteer projects across the world, from Africa to Asia to Latin America. For example, Projects Abroad’s veterinary internship in Sri Lanka allows you to gain experience caring for both domestic and farm animals, as well as neglected street dogs. Other projects include:
- An animal volunteer program in Belize
- An equine therapy internship in South Africa
- A dog shelter initiative in Argentina
Want to learn more about Projects Abroad’s veterinary internships abroad? Read about two amazing programs in detail below:
Work alongside vets in Accra, the bustling capital of Ghana. As a veterinary intern in Ghana, you’ll treat farm and domestic animals, helping with wound care, setting IVs, checking vital signs, and administering vaccinations. By shadowing local veterinarians, you’ll get firsthand insights into how animal care works in another culture. You’ll learn lots of new things, and come back with a wealth of knowledge and experience. That will make you a better vet in the future!
This program is not only great for boosting your CV, but you’ll also have time to dive into the local culture and explore the sites in Accra, including Labadi Beach. Program fees are $3,260 for four weeks, with 12 weeks costing $5,900. You’ll stay with a host family, which is a wonderful, unique experience. Find out more and reserve your spot here!
Head to Brasov, a city in the Transylvania region that’s surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. There, you’ll either intern at a vet clinic or dog shelter. This internship is mostly observational, but you’ll have the chance to observe and assist with basic medical procedures, such as dressing wounds, operations, and vaccinations. You’ll also care for animals at the clinic or shelter, consult with pet owners, and perform administrative duties.
During off-hours, immerse yourself in Romanian culture by getting to know your host family, taking a trip to Bran Castle, enjoying the lively cafes, and more. Internship fees are $4,260 for four weeks, with 12 weeks costing $7,700. Click here to find out more!
Volunteering Solutions began in 2007 and has hosted more than 17,000 international volunteers and interns to date, including lots of aspiring veterinarians. Volunteering Solutions has more than 150+ projects across 27 countries, including numerous programs in animal care, wildlife rehabilitation, marine conservation and more.
Known for high-quality, affordable programs, Volunteering Solutions has vet internships that will enhance your resume, equip you with new skills and enable you to help local animals and wildlife.
To learn more about Volunteering Solutions and their veterinary internships and programs, visit their website here. (UK readers, please visit their UK site here). Also, check out the three great veterinary internships and volunteer programs below.
Make your way to the Ecuadorian rainforest, where you’ll help fight against the abuse, capture, trafficking and hunting of wild animals. Responsibilities include assisting local vets with rehabbing animals, improving forest trails, conservation work in the Amazon and more.
This is a great program that combines Amazon conservation work with animal rescue and rehabilitation. You’ll get to work with ocelots, monkeys, parrots, tortoises and other amazing wildlife. Fees start from just $749 for 2 weeks ($1149 for 4 weeks).
Want to apply? Click here!
This is one of the more unique projects Volunteering Solutions offers, as you’ll get to assist with habitat conservation, animal care, and construction and renovation work for one of the world’s most amazing bears, the Sun Bear! This project takes place at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, near the city of Sandakan.
This is a great chance to learn about conservation and wildlife care. Program fees start from $1226 for 2 weeks.
Want to apply? Click here!
Want to learn how to care for and rehabilate African penguins? Then consider this program in Port Elizabeth. You’ll get to feed penguins, clean enclosures, assist vets, and help with conservation efforts. The progam is in beautiful Algoa Bay, and will teach you an array of skills that will be useful in your veterinary career.
Ready to care for sick and injured African penguins? Fees start from just $1600 for 6 weeks. Click here to apply!
African Impact is an award-winning, responsible travel organization that offers volunteer and internship opportunities in 7 countries across Africa. It was founded in 2004 and has since hosted over 35,000 volunteers. African Impact has over 20 different projects, ranging from teaching in Zambia to marine conservation in Zanzibar. The organization is known for its long-term objectives and measurable change. It is also recognized as a trusted specialist on volunteering and interning in Southern Africa. African Impact offers internships, as well as group, family, and high school projects. The minimum age requirement for their projects is 16, making African Impact a great option for teen and high school volunteers.
This veterinary program offers hands-on experience in wildlife capture and veterinary procedures in South Africa. It is designed for qualified veterinarians, veterinary students in their third year or above, or veterinary nurses who want to gain practical experience in these areas. Others may be considered if they have the right experience. The program is based in South Africa’s Langeberg Mountain Range and takes place on the Goedemoed Farm, opposite the Hartenbos Private Game Reserve. Participants will live in a comfortable house on the farm, share rooms with other participants, and be supported by staff and wildlife experts. The program includes both theoretical and practical learning, including legal and ethical considerations, basic physiology, pharmacology, and animal restraint techniques. Practical exercises will include rifle safety, dart gun target practice, and radio communication training, among others. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore the Garden Route and Cape Town during optional trips. Learn more and apply here!
This program offers the opportunity to work at a wildlife rehabilitation center in South Africa, near the Kruger National Park. Participants will care for and rehabilitate rescued, injured, and lost wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. They will also observe trained professionals and participate in individual care and release plans for each animal. The program includes learning about African wildlife, including how to track them, their natural behavior, and the threats facing them. Participants will live on the Umoya Khulula Wildlife Centre, a property surrounded by citrus farms, forests, and ravines, and will have the opportunity to explore the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon on weekends. They will also be involved in conservation work, such as game counts, fence patrols, and data collection, and will have the option to combine this program with the African Big 5 Wildlife Conservation Project. Learn more and apply here!
An award-winning volunteer abroad organization, Plan My Gap Year empowers people to travel the world, meet like-minded people, and engage in meaningful work. Known for their safe, structured programs and commitment to transparency and affordability, Plan My Gap Year receives high praise from past volunteers. On TrustPilot, they have a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars across more than 1,630 reviews.
Operating service projects across 15 countries in Africa, South America, and Asia, PMGY sends more than 4,000 volunteers abroad each year. If you join a veterinary volunteer or internship program overseas, PMGY offers plenty of options. Their work at wildlife rescue centers is particularly applaudable. You’ll get hands-on experience with some of the world’s most majestic wild animals.
PMGY’s programs last anywhere from 1-24 weeks, with multiple start dates each month. Throughout the project, you’ll receive great support and guidance, which gives you the opportunity to gain experience, learn new skills, and meet other aspiring veterinarians!
To learn more about PMGY’s animal volunteer programs, read about two great projects below:
In the coastal town of Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka, you’ll encounter many stray dogs wandering the beaches and streets. Due to a lack of shelter and care, these dogs develop health issues and often die well before they should. As a volunteer at the dog rescue center, you’ll care for abandoned, injured, and sick dogs, helping to tackle the rising problem of rabies and give the dogs a healthier, safer living environment.
Great for vet students as well as dog lovers, this program teaches you a lot about canine healthcare. You’ll assist with everything from general wellness checks and cleaning the dogs to minor surgeries and administration of vaccines. You’ll also help with initiatives to improve human-animal relationships in the community. It can get challenging, but seeing the dogs recover and begin having fun again makes your work truly rewarding.
Ready to volunteer to help dogs in Sri Lanka? During free time, you’ll find the nearby beaches amazing. The program also includes weekend trips to Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, Yala National Park, and even the Maldives. Fees start at $549. Click here for more info!
Volunteer at a wildlife haven in Phetchaburi, a province in Central Thailand that’s home to dense rainforest and diverse wildlife. There, you’ll join a mission to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals. Many of the animals have faced abuses in industries like tourism. Others have seen their habitats destroyed by deforestation from logging. While many of the animals will be sheltered at the center for the rest of their lives, you may even get to see some animals released back into the wild (it’s an unforgettable experience).
While this program is hands-off, unless animals require medical attention, you’ll learn a lot about how to support the physical and emotional health of wild creatures, such as gibbons, lorises, bears, and macaques. Common duties include creating environmental enrichments, preparing food for the animals, and cleaning enclosures. As a volunteer, you can ensure the animals have a brighter future.
For this program, you’ll stay in a volunteer house on-site. The surrounding scenery amazes, so take time to enjoy it! You’ll have time to explore local culture too. Sample the cuisine, visit temples, tour Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, and more. Fees start at $759. Click here for more info!
Founded in 2011, Agape Volunteers is a registered UK charity that offers high-quality, low-cost travel experiences throughout Africa. This organization specializes in volunteering, tourism, and development work in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Maasai-land. Projects range from medical volunteering to teaching, to volunteering with wildlife, and program costs include registration and administration fees, as well as travel insurance, in total making Agape Volunteers the lowest-cost option if you want to volunteer in Africa.
If you’re wondering if working with wildlife is a career option for you, check out this animal conservation program in South Africa. Join renowned wildlife specialists and other researchers in Marakele National Park, home to big game such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, water buffalos, and hyenas. The local animal protection staff have dedicated their lives to ensuring that the wildlife is afforded the care they need to survive. Gain valuable hands-on experience when you join them in the bush, assisting with game drives. Help to support these endangered species by monitoring animal movement and behavior, and then analyze the data you’ve collected. Accommodations are in a purpose-built farmhouse with dorm-style rooms. Work six days a week on the project, and relax on Sundays. Stay a minimum of two weeks with fees starting at £1,530. Read more and sign up here.
Naturally Africa Volunteers supports a small network of community-operated projects in Africa that are need-based, which means volunteer assistance is genuinely welcomed and required. A U.K. registered charity, Naturally Africa Volunteers strives to keep its project fees low while maintaining safety and comfort during your stay abroad. Its projects help communities achieve self-sufficiency, and volunteers help in areas where there is a lack of skill or knowledge, so no jobs are lost. In addition to placing volunteers on projects, Naturally Africa Volunteers oversees its own foundation that funds specific projects through donations, including educational support for schools, relief of poverty through training and healthcare projects, and the promotion of sustainable development.
Get hands-on experience with the South Africa Pre-Vet Wildlife Volunteer project in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This opportunity through Naturally Africa Volunteers allows you to gain exposure to veterinary science, animal welfare, and animal management. Designed for students and young professionals looking to enter the fields of veterinary science, animal welfare, or animal management, you’ll work alongside professionals and receive theoretical and practical training with African wildlife, agricultural livestock, and domestic animals.
This program places you with a diverse range of animals, often including elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions, raptors, antelope, tortoises, snakes, monkeys, giraffe, bulls, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, rats, mice, and more! Highlights of this project are:
- Studying and working with African wildlife in commercial and non-commercial game reserves
- Getting hands-on experience with a range of agricultural livestock
- Caring for and working with vulnerable and abused domestic animals in rural villages
Learn about South Africa’s animal welfare agencies, and understand the challenges faced by organizations like the SPCA. Volunteer fees are $1,450 for two weeks, with longer stays available. Learn more and register here.
A Broader View organizes humanitarian volunteer experiences overseas, and with 245 work- and study-abroad placements in 25 countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, ABV’s mission is to provide volunteers with programs that aid the neediest communities in developing countries, and encourage cross-cultural appreciation and understanding. Founded in 2008 as a U.S. nonprofit, ABV’s affordable programs allow participants the opportunity to learn a new language and gain work experience. ABV volunteers have contributed more than $3 million in donations worldwide.
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is home to a variety of wildlife, including sloths, marsupials, monkeys, turtles, and iguanas. These animals are threatened by human populations, often illegally hunted for food or income, or their habitats are destroyed by expansion and developments. Many are cared for by volunteers at the Escazu Monitoring Center, which specializes in rehabilitation research, particularly that of sloths, anteaters, raccoons, and sea turtle nesting behavior. Some of the facts you’ll learn about sloths include that they move slowly to avoid being spotted by harpy eagles, their biggest predator. Because they are inactive, they cultivate green algal gardens in their fur and blend in with the canopy of the rainforest. Some of the tasks you’ll perform with this placement include:
- Researching the populations of local mammals
- Participating in turtle conservation, including night walks and egg rescues
- Raising public awareness about wildlife care
- Connecting with professionals in other related areas of wildlife conservation
- Engaging the community through informative programs and volunteer activities
- Coordinating and conducting educational programs at the secondary school
This project connects the community’s youth with the conservation efforts of the Monitoring Center – and while you’re onsite, you can help them practice conversational English and promote eco-tourism! Spend free time exploring the area, shopping at markets, and traveling to beaches for weekend relaxation. There are national parks with beautiful scenery, from active volcanoes to rainforests. Fees for one week on this program start at $890. Click here to apply.
Join the staff at a municipal animal park in Guatemala, working with animal rescue and providing veterinary services for animals in need. The project site receives and educates about 500,000 visitors each year while providing assistance for 200 animals of 41 species. Most of the visitors are children on school trips, who visit the park as part of their elementary education. As a volunteer veterinarian or pre-veterinary student volunteer, you can get involved working directly with the local veterinarian, making rounds, administering medication, and creating a healthy environment for the animals. Tasks you may perform include:
- Preparing food and feeding the animals
- Cleaning cages
- Interacting with the animals
- Learning how to apply injected and oral vaccinations to animals
- Assisting with tours and conferences for groups
- Helping with park maintenance
- Building, painting and cleaning the facility
Free time can be spent enjoying the cafes and markets, experiencing the nightlife with other volunteers, and sightseeing around Quetzaltenango City. Stay from one to eight weeks on this program. Fees start at $895. Read on to learn more and to register.
Fronteering offers adventure trips that are far from ordinary. Founded in 2007, the organization’s philosophy is that when someone volunteers abroad, they should be experiencing the adventure of a lifetime. With this in mind, Fronteering combines unusual destinations and activities (sometimes extreme adventures) with sustainable projects and deserving communities. From survival trips to the jungle or a deserted island to riding fabled Arabian horses across the desert, Fronteering has imaginative, unforgettable travel opportunities to unspoiled places still wealthy in wildlife and native people. Its projects focus on helping wildlife, indigenous people, and the environment in cooperation with the local and indigenous communities. Fronteering also offers off-the-beaten-path adventure trips, some with an element of risk, to the world’s most unique locations, using local guides and transportations as sustainable tourism. If you have an intrepid spirit and a passion for nature and wildlife, a Fronteering experience may be exactly what you need.
Join Fronteering down under at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, and learn how to rescue and rehabilitate native wildlife at the world’s largest and busiest facility of its kind! The hospital has treated more than 70,000 animals since opening in 2004, thanks to its dedicated staff of wildlife professionals who are dedicated to animal wellness. This hospital provides first-class care for sick, injured, and orphaned animals that are admitted each week. You’ll work alongside experienced animal keepers, lending a hand with the husbandry and care related to these animals, as well as guest-related activities. This project gives you hands-on experience behind the scenes, learning how to be supportive of the hospital and vet’s needs, so there is minimal to no contact allowed with the rehabilitating animals. This allows the animals, from koalas to crocodiles, be released safely into their natural habitat. Responsibilities may include:
- Preparing Koala paste feeds
- Counting Koalas on the plantation
- Gardening and general maintenance at the hospital
- Assisting with feeding
- Watching/observing vets and nurses in treatment rooms
- Cleaning the treatment and triage areas
- Sitting with koalas as they soak up the sun
- Collecting flowers for bird enrichment area
While you’re in Australia, visit the outback, learn about bushwalking, and embrace the beach lifestyle. This is the country of kangaroos, wombats, platypus, dingoes, and Tasmanian devils, so tour zoos and animal facilities so you can to learn more about the unique wildlife here. Fees for this world-renowned program start at $1,995 for four weeks. More information is available here.
Journey to Orlando with Fronteering, and help exotic animals rehabilitate and get back to being their strongest selves! A great volunteer program for veterinary students and professionals, your main responsibility is caring for, nurturing, and rehabbing abandoned and abused wildlife, such as tigers, monkeys, leopards, bears, and wolves. Daily tasks include cleaning cages and enclosures, preparing food, building and working on habitats, and administering medical treatments. Depending on your education and experience, you may be able to get more involved with medical treatments for the animals.
When you’re not volunteering to help the animals, check out Orlando, a city known for its world-class amusement parks (Disney, anyone?) and cultural attractions, like the Orlando Science Center. Sound like the right veterinary volunteer program for you? Fees begin at $1,995 for four weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Get even more info here!
Make the trip to British Columbia, where you can improve animal wellness by helping to rescue and rehabilitate native North American wildlife. If you’re an aspiring veterinarian in school, this is a wonderful program because you’ll get to feed and care for black bears and eagles, as well as educate the public about what’s needed to ensure they survive and thrive in the local environment. You will also have the chance to get involved in administering medical treatment. How hands-on your role is will depend on your education and experience. Additional duties include building and maintaining habitats, general cleaning, and assisting with captures and releases (yes, that part is both fun and heartwarming!).
During free time, have a blast on Vancouver Island. Do everything from kayak and bike to whale watch and fish. Sound like a wonderful veterinary volunteer program? Fees begin at just $1,295 for eight weeks. There are 16-week positions available if you want to start in May (eight-week program starts in June). Get even more info here!
Challenge Yourself to Be More
It’s not a short path to becoming a veterinarian, but it is a satisfying one, and salaries are increasing. Also, there are fewer insurance woes compared to a physician for humans. One of the best reasons to be a veterinarian is because you’re a “jack-of-all-trades,” with the ability to be a “radiologist, an anesthesiologist, a surgeon, a dermatologist, an ophthalmologist, or an endocrinologist all in the same day.”
Life as a vet could be the perfect calling for you if you like variety, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Loving animals isn’t enough, because you won’t always be snuggling with kittens and puppies. You’ll be called upon to perform a variety of difficult tasks at inconvenient hours.
As a veterinarian, you can do more, and be more, for vulnerable animals. You can help reduce stray populations and educate people on the importance of caring for pets before they get sick. But how do you know it’s the right path for you?
Challenge yourself and your dream of helping animals by joining a responsible, humane conservation program, whether it’s for one week or more, and find out what makes you smile.