Panama Wildlife Veterinary Medicine - Loop Abroad - Veterinary Study Abroad

Summer programs
Panama Wildlife Veterinary Medicine

Applications are open for Summer 2022!

“Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Panama” was designed by Dr. Chloe Buiting, The Jungle Doctor, for students looking to gain clinical experience in wildlife medicine. 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a sloth vet? Or treat some of the world’s most endangered wildlife? The Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Panama Program might be for you – now open for enrollment for Summer 2022!

This program is based at a veterinary clinic serving wildlife, exotics, and small animals, and also takes you to a busy wildlife rehabilitation facility, which has an emphasis on the rehabilitation and release of sloths.

Join your instructor, experienced veterinarian Dr.

Julio Reyes, in Panama to learn about the medicine and treatment of Panamanian wildlife. Dr. Reyes is the Medical Director of Centro Veterinario Panamá in Panama City, which sees and treats a range of animals – from companion pets to exotic animals and wildlife. 

Dr Reyes is also the consulting veterinarian for APPC Panama, the Pan-American Conservation Association, which is Panama’s leading wildlife rescue organization. Since 2005, the APPC has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 5,000 wild animals – including kinkajous, jaguars, porcupines, margays, toucans, monkeys, anteaters, and sloths. With deforestation, over-development, poaching, and the illegal pet trade being some of the biggest threats to wildlife in Panama, the APPC is dedicated to saving the region’s most vulnerable species.

By joining us on this program, you’ll get the chance to learn about the treatment of Central America wildlife – including clinical examinations, handling, restraint, common diseases and medical therapies. You will also learn about the rehabilitation process and have the opportunity to shadow any surgeries, rescues, or releases during your time!

This two-week program is based between Centro Veterinario Panamá and the APPC, both of which are located in Panama City. In addition to learning about the animals of Latin America and their conservation and care, you’ll also get a chance to explore some of the best of what Panama has to offer – including ziplining through the beautiful Gamboa rainforest, exploring tropical waterfalls, and relaxing on stunning and tropical San Blas Islands!

Who It’s For

This program is designed for university-aged students who are interested in working professionally with animals. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Most are 18 to 25.

All undergraduate and pre-veterinary students are welcome. You do not need to be currently enrolled in school to attend. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

One session is reserved for students who are currently in vet school – see “Dates Open for Application” below for details.

Each group will have a maximum of 12 students to ensure your ability to learn in the clinic. All programming is in English – no Spanish skills are required (but if you have them, you’ll definitely use them!)

*Private groups available! We can customize this program for your group of veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, university students, vet students, or high school students in either English or Spanish. Please contact us for more information.


In addition to your up-close observations and shadowing, you’ll get to:

  • Perform a complete physical exam on a sloth
  • Perform veterinary labs such as wildlife necropsies, coprological exams, suturing techniques and more
  • Learn about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release process, including: what makes an animal fit for release back into the wild, and the behavior and welfare of wildlife in care
  • Radiology and ultrasonography of wildlife and exotic species
  • Join daily rounds in the clinic to discuss current hospital in-patients and cases
  • Surgical shadowing opportunities

You’ll be learning about key topics related to Central American wildlife, including:

  • The care of sloths, anteaters, toucans, cats, kinkajous, monkeys, and other Central American wildlife
  • Dedicated workshops to learn about and practice in the handling and restraint of small mammals, reptiles, and birds (including birds of prey)
  • Chemical restraint and anesthesia of wildlife
  • Types of injuries sustained by wildlife and their treatment
  • The advanced medical care of wildlife, including physiotherapy, laser therapy and orthopaedic surgeries (and get involved with any cases treated during your time!) 

Explore the area and get to know Panama!

  • Learn and practice veterinary Spanish (no experience required!)
  • Explore in and around Panama City, including the famous Panama Canal
  • Spend an evening in the old town of Casco Viejo
  • Take a trip to Portobelo National Park
  • Full day trip to San Blas Islands – enjoy the brilliant white sand beaches and the warm blue water of Panama’s tropical archipelago! 
  • Visit the spectacular Gamboa Rainforest for hiking, a tropical waterfall visit, and rainforest canopy ziplining (included)!

Dates open for application

Summer 2022
May 15 – May 28, 2022

May 29 – June 11, 2022  June 12 – June 25, 2022  June 26 – July 9, 2022  July 10 – July 23, 2022 

Session for students currently in vet school

May 15 – May 28, 2022

 apply now

These program sessions are covered by Loop Abroad’s COVID-19 100% Tuition Refund Policy. If a program is canceled by Loop Abroad due to COVID-19, we will refund 100% of any program tuition you have paid (including the deposit).

The dates above indicate the day you must arrive in Panama City and depart from Panama City, which may mean leaving the US the day prior or returning the day after, depending on your flight time. We will provide you with detailed information on when to arrive in and depart Panama. Your program includes airport transfer to and from the airport in Panama. Please note that there is no group flight for this program. Students will be picked up and dropped off at Panama City airport.  Loop Abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all tuition payments will be returned in full.

Want to travel longer with us? Add another two-week program in and save $100 on each program tuition!

This program is a full adventure on its own, but it can easily be combined easily with with sea turtles in Costa Ricaa wildlife rescue clinic in Costa Rica, or a large animal and marine program in Belize with minimal travel time and extra costs. Combine any two programs and save $100 on each program tuition!

See all the programs you could link together!

Animals in Panama

The vet clinic where you’ll be working sees both companion animals and exotic animals, so you might see patients such as:

  • dogs
  • cats
  • birds including macaws
  • ferrets
  • hamsters
  • rabbits
  • turtles

At the Sloth Sanctuary, it’s no surprise that you’ll mostly see sloths. You’ll be able to do a full physical exam on a sloth and learn how to care for them. 

You might see other wildlife in the process of rescue and rehabilitation or who are long-term residents of APPC, including jaguars, ocelots, kinkajous, anteaters, otters, parrots, coatis, and crocodiles. You will have the opportunity to learn to perform clinical exams on some of these animals too

Hours and Credit

Participants will earn at least 60 veterinary and clinical hours. You will receive a certificate for 60 service hours upon program completion.

Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications –  every vet school counts vet hours differently. You will also earn additional animal experience hours.

Groups and Staff

Groups will have a maximum of 12 students each, which will be divided in two for time in the clinic to ensure the highest quality of learning is provided.

Housing and Meals

Program housing will be in a guesthouse or similar lodging in Panama City, where you will share a room with another Loop Abroad student of the same gender. Wifi is available. Meals may be prepared on-site or provided from local restaurants – all meals are included in tuition. You will have staff on-site 24/7.


Tuition is $3,950 $3850 – SAVE $100 when you deposit by October 31!

There is a $100 tuition discount for combining this program with another 2-week program.

Interest-free payment plans are available. Current college students may be able to use federal financial aid toward their tuition. Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid.

Tuition is all-inclusive except for international airfare. Tuition does not include medical insurance (the policy we suggest is under $25), passport, snacks, and souvenirs.

Airfare is not included. There is no group flight for this program. We will provide you information on when to arrive in and depart from Panama City so that you can book your flight. Your tuition includes transportation from the Panama City airport to your program location at the start of your program, and back to the Panama City airport at the end. All in-country transportation is provided.

COVID and Safety

All participants will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All participants will adhere to the Loop Abroad COVID policy which includes providing a negative COVID test within 2-3 days prior to travel, wearing a mask when flying and when interacting outside of your “travel pod” (your group and staff), daily symptom report, testing if symptoms are present, and testing before return to the US. Loop Abroad had ZERO COVID cases in 2021!

If a program is canceled by Loop Abroad due to COVID-19, we offer a full refund of all tuition paid, including the deposit.

Want to travel with us longer?

Link this program to another two-week program and save $100 on each tuition. Costa Rica programs are an excellent choice to combine with Panama, as air travel between the two locations is short and convenient. This program can combine with:


Veterinary Clinic and Sloth Sanctuary

Your program is split between two learning locations: a vet clinic and a sloth sanctuary. The majority of your learning time will be spent in the vet clinic, while two days will be based at APPC.

Centro Veterinario Panama is the clinic where you’ll be learning from your teaching vet. They serve both companion animals and exotics – you can see some recent patients here. This full-service clinic will be operating and taking patients while you are on-site, so your experience will vary depending on what medical care the patients need.

APPC Panama is the sloth sanctuary. While APPC is currently closed to tours due to COVID-19, your group will be able to learn on-site from the experts and the animals they care for.

The APPC has helped to care for the wildlife of Panama for fifteen years. Their work includes teaching and training about the rescue, transportation, and first aid of orphaned, disoriented, sick, or injured wild animals. They help to train park rangers in Panama about wildlife management as well.

The APPC has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 5,000 wild animals over the course of its 15-year history. They provide specialist care and veterinary treatment to animals, with the main objective of returning them to the forest.

Panama City

Your program is based in Panama City, which is the capital of Panama. You will fly into and out of Panama City, and Loop Abroad will arrange your transport from the airport to program housing and to your program each day.  We will be able to explore the city together, visit the Panama Canal, and spend an evening in the old town of Casco Viejo.

Exploring Panama

When we’re not learning in the clinic or sanctuary, we will explore some of the most beautiful and well-known sights that Panama has to offer. This is included in your program tuition.

You will visit the Panama CanalPortobelo National Park, both top tourist attractions in Panama. But our favorites (except our classroom locations) are the spectacular Anton Valley – for hiking, waterfalls, and canopy ziplining –  and the beautiful San Blas Islands. 

Anton Valley is in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. It is a wonderful area to explore and see some of the wildlife we’re working to conserve. The San Blas Islands, where we’ll spend a day relaxing, have brilliant white sand beaches and warm blue water. This is Panama’s tropical archipelago, and a great place for a much-needed break from your hard work!


The weekdays of your program will be full of learning veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation and care with your teaching veterinarian. Generally, you’ll join clinical rounds each day in a busy hospital and have the opportunity to learn from your vet treating a range of exotic patients, including kinkajous, sloths, birds, anteaters, and big cats.

In general, your clinic days will be a combination of shadowing your teaching veterinarian on his rounds and a custom-designed lecture to help you understand the underlying information you need to better understand the treatments being provided and the animals being treated. Hands-on workshops  include:

  • Small mammal physical exams
  • Avian physical exams
  • Reptile physical exams
  • Bird of prey physical exams

You will have four half-days and two full days of clinical rounds during your program. You will also have a day focused on radiography and imaging , where you will get a chance to learn about X-rays and other imaging techniques hands-on, and try your hand at using your new skills to diagnose interesting wildlife, exotics, and small animal cases.

You will spend two days of your program at one of Panama’s busiest wildlife hospitals and sanctuaries: APPC Panama. On your days touring and working at the APPC, learning from the staff there and helping them with the sloths in their care, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Panama Canal and to visit Colón, where you’ll visit an exotic animal farm and the beautiful Portobelo National Park.

In between our clinic work, we’ll have a chance to explore interesting locations nearby, such as the Panama Viejo (also known as the Panama Ruins), Causeway, and Casco Viejo.

Your program also includes opportunities to visit other animal conservation efforts in Panama, including a behind-the-scenes tour of a raptor rehab center. These visits will help you gain a deeper understanding of varied conservation efforts throughout Panama, and give you an opportunity to learn directly from those involved in this work

On one of our leisure days, we will have a day to visit Panama’s famous San Blas Islands, home to turquoise waters and beautiful white sand beaches, and the perfect place for a rest. You can have a wonderful day exploring, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach. 

We will also have a full-day trip to the Anton Valley, which is a perfect place to explore the rainforest. With a combination of hiking, waterfall visit, and canopy zip-lining, we’ll have a great adventure day exploring one of the most beautiful, wild areas of Panama.

This program will be a combination of shadowing and hands-on learning in the clinic and wildlife sanctuary, and will also allow you to explore some of the most beautiful and diverse natural areas of Panama with your group and guide.



There are lots of ways to help fund your online and travel programs with Loop Abroad, and we are here to help.

Scholarships are a terrific way to cover some or all of your tuition for a Loop Abroad program.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the next deadline is March 1 at 11:59pm Pacific Time! The Gilman Scholarship was designed to help students of limited financial means have the opportunity to study abroad – online or in-person. Nearly a third of applicants are awarded the scholarship! This is a great opportunity to help cover your tuition.

Students can receive up to $5,000 for travel or virtual programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs, to our semester programs, or to one of our 2-week programs.

Along with their application, students must submit two essays, the Statement of Purpose Essay, and the Community Impact Essay. Students must also upload their transcripts (unofficial or official). For more information on the application guidelines, please click here.

See the official website and read about Loop Abroad students who have received this scholarship. If you are a US citizen receiving a Pell Grant and currently enrolled in college or university, we encourage you to apply for this scholarship. The round of applications due March 1 will cover in-person programs or internships that start between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023. This cycle encompasses Summer 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, and Academic Year 2022-2023 programs.

Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship

Loop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice starting January 2022 or later. Applications are due November 30, 2021.

Who can apply: This scholarship is open to all students age 18 and over. You do not have to be a US Citizen. You do not have to be currently in school. You do not need to be enrolled in an online course to apply. You can apply for the scholarship first and make your online course selection after you receive a decision about the scholarship. (Note: if you make any payments toward tuition and later receive the scholarship, your payments will be refunded up to the value of one online program of your choice, not including an online semester.) 

Criteria for selecting the scholarship recipient: 

We will consider financial need, commitment to conservation and/or animal science, academic performance, and ability to be a positive team member as factors in our decision. We are not looking for the applicant with the highest grades or the most animal hours. We are not looking for the applicant with the saddest story. We are looking for a student who embodies Loop Abroad’s values of teamwork, commitment to a cause, and hard work, and for a student who would not be able to otherwise afford Loop Abroad tuition (whether because of household income or recent change in circumstances).

How to apply:
In order to apply, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Submit the application to the Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship here. The application requires a copy of your proof of household income (such as last year’s tax return).
  2. Follow @LoopAbroad on instagram ( and make an instagram post about the program you’re hoping to join, tagging @loopabroad and #loopabroad in the post.

Announcement of Award: The scholarship winner will be notified by November 25th.

girl elephant dogWhy is it called the Erica Ward Scholarship? Dr. Erica Ward is our Academic Director. We believe that she embodies the values we are seeking in our scholarship applicants: she is passionate, dedicated, hard-working, and driven to make the world a better place. Dr. Ward consistently strives to find ways that Loop Abroad can support projects in need and help its students and alumni have fulfilling academic opportunities. We have decided to name this scholarship after her in order to honor her continued commitment to her values and purpose. (PS – She isn’t dead. Please don’t write your essay about honoring her legacy. She is very much alive and still working here. If you are a finalist for the scholarship, she will read your essay.)

The scholarship will be credited toward tuition for the winning student toward the Loop Abroad online program of their choice. If the chosen winner has already made payments toward his or her Loop Abroad tuition, those payments will be refunded in full.

Scholarship is non-transferable. If student cannot attend, scholarship will be void – it is not a cash prize and cannot be paid as such. Applicants must be over the age of 18. Citizens and residents of any country may apply.


The Gilman-McCain Scholarship:

The Gilman-McCain Scholarship is a congressionally funded initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and named after the late senator John S. McCain from Arizona.

This scholarship is open to US citizen undergraduate students who are child dependents of active duty service members and receiving any type of Title IV federal financial aid. Students can receive awards of up to $5,000 for 2+ weeks of international travel or online programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs,  semester programs or 2-week travel programs.

The next round of applications for the Gilman scholarship open in January 2022. The deadline will be in March. At that time, you can apply for scholarships to use on any program starting between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.

Freeman-Asia Scholarship:

The Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. This scholarship is open to both US citizens and permanent residents who are undergraduate students at a two-year or four-year college or university.

Recipients can receive up to $3,000 in awards for summer programs. This scholarship can be applied to our Thailand programs of 2+ weeks.

In order to apply, students must fill out an online application. Read the scholarship instructions here and the eligibility requirements here.

Applications for the 2021-2022 school year are closed. 

The Fund for Education Abroad:

The Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) invests in promising students with financial need who wish to study abroad. Potential applicants who meet our eligibility requirements may participate on any international education program that meets their academic objectives.

This scholarship is open to US citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a college or university in the US. Scholarships range from $1,250 – $10,000 and can be applied for programs that run for at least 28 days.

Along with their application, students must submit a financial aid form (filled out by the financial aid office at their school), one recommendation letter, and a copy of their unofficial transcript.

Applications for Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 will open November 16, 2021 and be due by January 20, 2022. Students may review the scholarship and apply here.

Scholarships of note that you can apply for through the Fund for Education Abroad include: Travel Video Contest:

The 2020 Travel Video Contest gives students the opportunity to win a scholarship by sending in an original video discussing:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted your international education or cultural exchange experience abroad
  • Your ideal international education or cultural exchange after Covid-19

There are several prizes available ranging from $250 to $4,000.

In order to apply, students must create a 4-minute video and submit an online entry form. Tips and tricks for filming a video entry can be found here. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Submissions are due by October 13, 2021. Apply here.

Get more details about this program…

"This was a great learning experience! We were able to spend a lot of time with the vets and they were constantly answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Strongly recommend this trip!"

Andrea G., Thailand College Veterinary Service 2016

Wright State University, Dayton, OH

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