Summer programs
Elisa’s Group: Australia

Overview

Koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies at the “Walkabout”!

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This program is organized by UC Davis veterinary student and Loop alum Elisa McAfee and is open to UC Davis students. It is not sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated with UC Davis.

A two-week adventure “down under” to volunteer at the Walkabout Wildlife Park in Calga Springs outside Sydney, Australia. Get hands-on with koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies, and all kinds of other Australian wildlife.

Enjoy a fun tourist weekend in Sydney, explore aboriginal sites in the bush, and study “Australian Wildlife Handling, Conservation, and Care” with your veterinarian (DVM) trip leader in the classroom and with the animals.

Who It’s For

The program is open to students at UC Davis referred by Elisa McAfee. This program is not sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated with UC Davis. It is arranged by UC Davis veterinary student and Loop alum Elisa McAfee.

Due to Australian immigration laws, we cannot accept students under 18 to participate in this program. Each group of up to 10 students will have its own US veterinarian and its own Australian Volunteer Coordinator.

Highlights


• Assist in treatment rounds with Australian wildlife
• Health check kangaroos and koalas
• Examine pythons and echidnas
• Handle and assess possums and bandicoots
• Walk an alpaca
• Create enrichments for everyone from dingos to cockatoos
• Perform veterinary labs such as marsupial necropsies

Dates open for applications

June 16th- July 2nd, 2018

Note: Groups will have a maximum of 10 students each, with a total of 2 to 3 groups on the property at a time. Your group will have its own veterinarian and you may learn from other Loop veterinarians or Australian veterinarians as well.

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*Dates indicate departure from and return to Los Angeles. Some flights depart early in the morning and may require students to arrive in Los Angeles the night before. Loop Abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all payments will be returned in full.

Want a whole month of veterinary service? Add a two-week program!

Our Australian program is a full adventure on its own, but it can also be combined with any of our Thailand two-week programs back-to-back. Get up close and personal with Asian elephants! Combine two programs for an automatic 10% discount on your tuition, but you will need to pay for additional airfare.

Tuition

Tuition is $3,160 and is all-inclusive less airfare. This represents a 20% discount over our regular tuition for this program. No early enrollment discount or additional financial aid is available.

Interest-free payment plans are available. Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid. Your deposit is due by November 30, 2017 to secure your private group booking. Balance of your tuition is due by February 1, 2018.

Tuition is all-inclusive less airfare. Tuition does not include medical insurance (the policy we suggest is under $25), passport, visa (required for US citizens – can be obtained online for approximately $15US), snacks and souvenirs.

Airfare: Airfare is not included. Group flights will be booked from Los Angeles, departing Saturday and returning Monday (subject to one-day change).

Airfare is estimated at $1,600 (roundtrip including taxes and fees). You will have support staff at the Los Angeles airport for departure and at the Sydney airport on arrival, but may not have a staff member on the plane with you.

Travel off the group itinerary must be approved by Loop Abroad and carries fees. Please contact [email protected] before booking travel off the group itinerary.

Packing list

Please note that the packing list requires particular clothing including canvas or cotton work pants, hiking boots, and certain colors of shirts, which would need to be purchased before travel. We will limit necessary items to only those required for safe animal interaction and for representing Walkabout in your role as an animal-handling staff with animal-enclosure access.

Hours and Credit

Loop Abroad will support you in pursuing college credit for this course through your school. We can assign you a final exam or paper if one is required in order for you to get credit.

Participants will earn 80 veterinary hours. You will receive a certificate for 80 service hours upon program completion.

Groups and Staff

Groups will have a maximum of 10 students each, with a total of 2 to 3 groups on the property at a time. Your group will have its own veterinarian and you may learn from other Loop veterinarians or Australian veterinarians as well.

Housing and Meals

We will live at Walkabout for the duration of the program (except our weekend in Sydney). Students will be in rooms of 2-6 students each separated by gender, with shared bathrooms. Breakfast and Lunch are self-serve and include options such as cereal, toast, salads, and sandwiches. Dinners are prepared in one option each day (with a vegetarian alternative) and may include pizza, vegetable stir fry with chicken (or tofu), or hamburgers (or veggie burgers) and fries. Snacks and drinks are provided, but additional drinks and snacks (chips, chocolate, soda) are available for purchase. No alcohol is permitted at Walkabout’s facility. We can accommodate vegan, vegetarian, other dietary restrictions, or food allergies.

Locations

Walkabout Wildlife Park (“Walkabout”) is a one-of-a-kind conservation facility. For the last twelve years, this organization has pursued the goal of conservation through education.

The 80-acre property is home to over 200 captive animals who are protected and cared for by the Walkabout staff. Many are rescues that are unreleasable, while some are wildly occurring. In addition, Walkabout cares for and conserves 170 acres of natural habitat.

Walkabout is ZAA accredited (the Australian version of the AZA) and holds itself to very high standards of care. For some animals, including Tasmanian devils, Greater bilbies and Eastern quolls, it participates in breeding programs when the animals can be released to help repopulate areas that have recently been made safe for that species.

Who lives at Walkabout? Animals that live naturally in the bush of Australia’s Eastern Central Coast Hinterland, including:


Lots of free-ranging macropods such as kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, bettongs, and pademelons…
Possums and sugar gliders
Tasmanian devils and quolls
Bandicoots and potoroos
Echidnas
Wombats
Emus
Various species of parrots
Predatory birds including kookaburras and tawny frogmouths
Dingoes and flying foxes
Reptiles including pythons, dragons, skinks, and turtles
Some introduced farm species including alpacas, peacocks, and goats

This combination of native and exotic species, in a natural native environment, are cared for on a limited budget and with limited resources. We will be able to provide veterinary care, animal support, and necessary funding, while learning all about these animals in an up-close setting not available anywhere else in the world. Anatomy, handling, habitat, normal behavior, pathology, assessment, enrichment, and conservation of these mammals, birds, and reptiles will fill the program. Working in the Australian bush gives you a valuable opportunity to learn to work without a veterinary hospital and provide a high standard of care with limited equipment.

Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. It is provided here to give you a feel for your program.

Arrive in Sydney with your group and head straight to Walkabout about two hours outside the city, traveling along the famous Australian coastline and through the tropical forest (or “bush” as they call it in Australia). You’ll be welcomed at Walkabout by not only the experienced staff but also the hundreds of animals who live there, from Kangaroos and wallabies to Tasmanian devils and wombats. Once we’re oriented and have our footing in the bush, we’ll get right to work!

This is a veterinary program with a busy schedule, and all courses and volunteer work are focused on learning about, enriching, supporting, and caring for the animals at Walkabout. The special focus of this program is on handling, maintaining, and caring for wild animals in a zoo or sanctuary setting, with unique opportunities to handle and learn about Australian mammals, reptiles, and birds – practice that can be hugely valuable in future studies or career opportunities.

The schedule will vary but a typical day might include two hours of animal care rounds in the morning with your veterinarian, two hours of class time (focused on Australian animals) before lunch, three hours of enrichment projects in the afternoon, and time to observe and report on certain animals before dinner in order to provide them with the highest standard of care.

In some evenings, we will have the chance to observe the animals and their behaviors after sunset. We will also have the opportunity for a tracking and spotlighting workshop and some fun cultural evening activities such as exploring Aboriginal sites, learning about traditional tools such as throwing a boomerang, and stargazing and learning how stars are still used today in telling Aboriginal stories.

We will help to provide medical care to the animals on the property, depending on what is needed at the time. You will participate in a classroom based course taught by your team of Loop Abroad veterinarians, entitled “Australian Wildlife Handling, Conservation, and Care,” so that you can learn in-depth about the animals you will care for. The course is presented through lecture, necropsies and labs, textbook and journal article readings, group work, video, observation, and handling.

You will not be treating animals in a veterinary clinic, but will be working with them hands-on, including observing them, handling them, helping to create and improve enrichments, providing medical checks, and performing physical exams. You will have the opportunity to get hands-on with most if not all of the species on the property (students who are not rabies vaccinated will not be able to interact with flying foxes). All your animal work, service, and study will be supervised by a veterinarian and sometimes also an expert animal ranger. Your work will not focus on husbandry and maintenance, and will instead focus on animal welfare and care from a veterinary perspective.

On the weekend in the middle of your program, we will spend the weekend in Sydney as a group. We will visit famous sites such as the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and Darling Harbour. You will have time to shop and visit the beach (although it will be too cold to swim!) We will also visit Taronga Zoo, one of the most famous and well-respected zoos in the world, to see what enrichments are being used and meet with a staff veterinarian. This weekend of fun is included in your tuition.

Safety

No vaccines are required but a rabies vaccine is required in order to handle the flying foxes. (Students without a rabies vaccine may interact with all animals except flying foxes.)

Orientation will include a “snake and spider safety” class – programs take place during Australian winter when snakes and spiders are not prevalent. We suggest that you speak with a travel doctor and follow his or her advice on what vaccines or preventatives are best for you.

Reading List

Some books that might be interesting to students traveling to Australia who want to learn more about traveling and exploring in Australia, Australia culture, or Australian conservation.

A special thanks to Charlotte Leonetti, teen book reviewer and student travel blogger, for helping us put together this book list from the huge amount of choices available. You can purchase any of the books on our suggested reading lists at the links below.*

In A Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson. Bill Bryson is a renowned author of books on travel who has lived both in the United States and Britain. Wanting to inform the international world about the often-ignored Australia, Bryson writes about his trips across the country, he names these sections: “The Outback,” “The Boomerang Coast,” and “On the Edges.” In his humorous style, Bryson informs the readers about Australia’s history, cultures, and sites.

The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway. The Road from Coorain is the autobiography of Jill Ker Conway as she grows up in Sydney during the mid to late 1900s. Although it focuses on her coming of age, the story describes Australian life and explains the country’s culture from the perspective of a young adult.

Myths and Legends of the Australian AboriginesMyths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines, by W. Ramsay Smith. First published in 1932, this book describes Aborigine life and myths, including topics relating to hunting, witchcraft, and creation myths. Book Reads says, “With this colorful compilation of oral traditions, readers can savor tales as they were told by their aboriginal narrators—from reverent recountings of the origins of the world and human life, the stories about the roots of religious and social customs, to fanciful and humorous animal fables.”

Kangaroo DundeeKangaroo Dundee, by Chris Barnes. Amazon says, “Brolga (aka Chris Barns) is the 6ft 7in strong but sensitive Aussie star of the extraordinary BBC series Kangaroo Dundee. Brolga lives in a simple tin shed in the outback where he raises orphaned baby kangaroos. It is a sad fact of life that kangaroo mothers are at the mercy of speeding cars in this part of the world – killed on the road, their young still tucked up in their pouches. These young joeys holding on to life, have been given a second chance thanks to the kindness and dedication of Brolga, who carefully retrieves them and nurses them back to health.

Brolga has been rescuing these special creatures for years, slowly and painstakingly creating a kangaroo sanctuary for the many kangaroos he has saved, reared and loved. He has dedicated his life to observing how kangaroo mums care for their babies and does everything he can to replicate this. The baby kangaroos, traumatised by losing their mother so early, are tucked up into pillow cases and kept warm and comforted next to Brolga at night. We see him getting up at 4am to bottle feed them, washing them in a little tub, taking them to the supermarket and generally mothering them with heart breaking tenderness.”

Where Song BeganWhere the Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World, by Tim Low. Tim Low, an Australian biologist, writes many pieces on the topics of conservation and nature. In 2015, this book was the first nature book to win the best General Non-Fiction prize in the Australian Book Industry Awards. Where the Song Began gives insight about Australia’s unusual birds and their complexity and power within the country’s ecosystems and life. It is focused on the scientific nature of birds, although, it is still readable and thought provoking.

"This program in Australia is the perfect place for pre-vet students! From physical exams on koalas to restraining techniques on echidnas, students learn what it's like to be a wildlife veterinarian 'down under'."

Dr. Erica Ward – Academic Director at Loop Abroad