Spend a whole month in beautiful South Africa working with big cats, primates, birds of prey, reptiles, and more in this special 4-week program.
Combine two of our programs to explore South Africa and works with its wildlife. Half of the program is based at Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary in South Africa. Lory Park is one of only six zoos in Africa accredited by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria, with a focus on education and conservation. Your program will focus on understanding the anatomy, handling, medical needs in captivity, behavior, and conservation of six main groups of animals at the park: birds of prey, reptiles, big cats, small cats, cubs, and primates. Your work with and coursework about these animals will be supplemented by veterinary labs such as necropsies and lectures from veterinarians and expert guests. In addition, we will spend a weekend on safari in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, one of the largest in South Africa and home to elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffalo, lions, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, and hundreds of other species.
The other half of your program is spent volunteering at a cheetah breeding and conservation facility, learning about African wildlife hands-on in the African savanna, going on safari in Kruger National Park, and working with Loop vets right alongside the cats themselves. Though the volunteer facility isn’t a hospital, you will be gaining valuable experience learning and implementing the important work conservation and zoo vets do.
This program is designed for university-aged students who are interested in becoming veterinarians or working professionally with animals. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Most are 18 to 25.
There are no pre-requisites for this program. You do not need to be in school currently to apply. Individuals of any nationality may apply.
Each group of up to 10 students will have its own veterinarian and the groups will share site staff.
July 9 – August 8, 2022
*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.
Our South Africa 4-Week Experience combines two popular programs: South Africa Zoo Medicine and South Africa Veterinary Service.
Spending a full month in South Africa allows students to maximize their time abroad and save money doing it. Not only is supervision and transportation between programs provided for a seamless transition, but Loop is discounting each program by $100 for a total of $200 off tuition costs. Plus, you’ll get FREE college credit for both programs (normally $499) and will only pay for airfare once!
$7,900 $7,700 – SAVE $200 with this 2-program combo versus a single program. PLUS free college credit and transcript included – save $499.
Tuition does not include international airfare. Tuition does not include medical insurance, passport, snacks and souvenirs.
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.
Airfare on the group flight from New York, NY is $1700 round-trip including taxes and fees. Participants must fly on the group flight unless otherwise arranged with Loop Abroad (fees apply to flying off the group itinerary).
The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the deadline is March 1, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific Time!
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! See the official website for the latest details and read about Loop Abroad students who have received this scholarship.
You can receive 6 credits from University of Findlay for this program at no additional cost to you. Loop Abroad can also assist you in working to get credit directly from your school.
This program is created with students who may want to apply to vet school in mind. For your application to vet school, the program provides approximately the following hours:
Veterinary Hours: 102 hours
Research Hours: 25 hours
Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications, but will earn at least this many hours.
The strongest veterinary recommendation letter is from a vet who has known and worked with you for at least a year. However, you will have a chance to build a relationship with your Loop Abroad teaching vet who may be able to write you a recommendation if you impress them with your performance and are able to build on your experience after your program.
Groups will have a maximum of 10 students each. Your group will have its own veterinarian and you may learn from other Loop veterinarians, zoo staff, zoo veterinarians, and local experts as well.
During the zoo portion of this program, we will live on the grounds of the Lory Park Zoo. Housing is in dorm-style rooms, and you will share rooms with other Loop students of the same gender. Bathrooms are shared. Students are not permitted to leave the grounds of the zoo except when we travel off-site as a group. Free wi-fi is available throughout the zoo grounds.
Meals are included in your tuition and will be eaten at the zoo, including a simple buffet-style breakfast (coffee, cereal, milk, toast, jam, fruit, and eggs, for example) and set meals for lunch and dinner. Vegan and vegetarian diets, as well as food allergies, can be accommodated with advanced notice. There are also refrigerators and a kitchen to store and cook your own snacks.
During the middle weekend of your program, housing and meals are included in your safari tour.
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.
Midrand’s Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary is located in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Johannesburg is the start and end point of our South Africa Veterinary Service program, which makes these programs very easy to join into a one-month adventure.) Lory Park is one of only six institutions in Africa to be accredited by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which is indicative of their high standards of safety, veterinary care, animal diets and enrichment practices, and overall welfare of the animals in their care.
Additionally, the park is one of four African institutions granted membership to the International Zoological Educators.
Lory Park opened in the year 2000 as a bird park, but quickly began accepting injured and trapped animals and has grown to be a sanctuary that is home to the following animals:
As you can see, cats, birds, primates, and reptiles make up the majority of the animals that you will work with at Lory Park. The park has a focus on education and conservation, and you will get the chance to visit two schools in the community to help teach about the importance of animals and conservation.
Lory Park is involved in researching and breeding black-footed cats, and students will get to observe and participate in this research. Black-footed cats are difficult to breed in captivity, so their successful breeding pair is an important contribution to the survival of this vulnerable animal whose population is decreasing in the wild.
You will notice that other than cats and primates, the park does not have many of the large “zoo animals” you might expect, such as elephants, giraffes, hippos. Fortunately, you will have the opportunity to see these and many more African animals on your weekend safari.
We will have a two-day safari to Pilanesberg National Park, the fourth largest game park in South Africa and home to elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffalo, lions, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, hippo, crocodiles, jackals, wild cats, various antelope species, and hundreds of bird species. Here, guided drives will give us a chance to see lots of African animals in the wild and explore a bit outside of the zoo complex.
This itinerary is subject to change, but should give you a good overall program feel.
At the start of your program, you will arrive in Johannesburg on Sunday and we will travel to Lory Park Zoo as a group. Settle in and get oriented, get to know one another, and learn some of the basics of zoo life, because on Monday we have a full-day orientation to our new zoo home, including a tour, introduction to projects, safety training, and an introduction to the animals we’ll be working with during the project.
Loop Abroad is the only program through which you can participate in a behind-the-scenes veterinary course at the Lory Park zoo, and each average day includes a combination of:
In addition to fun group activities in the evenings, such as a trivia night or movie night.
Your group will be divided into smaller groups (approximately 5 students per group) for your morning animal activities so that you have a great opportunity to interact with the animals, get individual guidance, and observe up-close. For lectures, labs, and community activities, your group may be combined with another Loop Abroad group so that you can all learn together.
A typical weekday on the project might look something like this:
Morning: After breakfast, break into small groups to spend the morning with one of 6 animal groups – big cats, small cats, cubs, primates, reptiles, or birds of prey (you will spend project morning with each of these 6 groups).
During this time, you will prepare food for your animal group, clean their enclosures, learn about their behaviors and needs in captivity, and assist in training for certain behaviors. You may also provide physical exams, receive a hands-on anatomy lesson, learn proper handling technique, or assist in providing medical care or assessments, depending on the group and the animals’ needs.
Afternoon: Generally weekday afternoons will consist of three components:
Not all weekdays will follow this exact schedule. For example, there is one “veterinary day” per week where the zoo veterinarian team performs care such as vaccinations and deworming, and your schedule will be adjusted so that you can observe, assist, and learn.
We will have one day of community outreach, where we will visit two community schools and assist in the zoo’s projects at these schools, and we’ll have a chance to enjoy a relaxing encounter with the park’s ambassador animals.
On the middle weekend of the program, we will enjoy a two-day safari to Pilanesberg National Park, where we will get out into nature and enjoy some game drives at one of South Africa’s biggest national parks, where we have the chance to see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, leopards, zebra, and all kinds of wild African species.
During the second half of the program, you’ll split your time between volunteering at the cheetah facility and learning from our Loop Abroad vets. At the end of week, the group will depart for a two-day safari through Kruger National Park.
Here are some of the activities you can expect to participate in:
Loop Abroad’s groups will be the only volunteers on the property at the time, and will assist the staff in all aspects of caring for the cheetahs and other animals. There will be ample opportunities to observe the animals during work time. You will be at the cheetah conservation center for all program time except for the Kruger trip.
Every day on the project is different, but a typical weekday’s schedule will include one veterinary lecture/class, one veterinary lab/activity such as a necropsy or suture lab, one upkeep activity such as thatching or cleaning enclosures, time preparing and feeding the cheetahs, time observing the cheetahs and other animals, time working on and implementing enrichments for the animals, and mealtimes, as well as downtime in the evening.
You will have an opportunity to touch a cheetah and will observe them closely each day, but this is not a program designed for you to snuggle with wild animals. Hands-on contact is limited to safe, short interactions that do not cause the animals undue stress, participation in training exercises when available, and necessary medical treatment and observation on anesthetized animals.
Zoo medicine, conservation medicine, and care for wild and captive animals focuses observation over handling when possible, and this program adheres to those standards.
Note: The order of weeks is subject to change.
Some books that might be interesting to students traveling to South Africa who want to learn more about South African culture and history, conservation, African animals, or veterinary medicine. (None of these are required reading.)
You can purchase any of the books on our suggested reading lists at the links below.*
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Amazon says, “Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.” Students participating in the Adventure Bonus Week: South Africa will visit Robbin Island, where Mandela was held prisoner, including a tour of his prison cell.
Cry, the Beloved Country Amazon says, “An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty. …Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.”
Soul of a Lion: One Woman’s Quest to Rescue Africa’s Wildlife Refugees Amazon says, “For animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and the vast readership for gripping true-life stories, this African saga is a must-read adventure. It chronicles the unique Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia, where Marieta van der Merwe and her family, former wealthy cattle farmers, have sold land to buy and care for embattled wildlife. We meet Sam, the “AIDS” lion infected by mistake at a vet clinic. Boerjke, a baboon with epilepsy and Down syndrome. Savanna, the one-eyed lioness. And Marieta van der Merwe herself, the inspiring proprietor of Harnas who shares her home with needy wild animals. Survivor of an early life fraught with personal tragedy in the African Bush, she now devotes herself as care-giver and ambassador for wildlife and wildland. Told with insight, humor, and thrilling immediacy by author and Harnas volunteer Barbara Bennett, this story will captivate readers of all ages.”
Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography–The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa Amazon says, “Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa’s most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university. This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is a triumph of the human spirit over hatred and unspeakable degradation. For Mark Mathabane did what no physically and psychologically battered “Kaffir” from the rat-infested alleys of Alexandra was supposed to do — he escaped to tell about it.”
White Man’s Game: Saving Animals, Rebuilding Eden, and Other Myths of Conservation in AfricaAmazon says, “The stunningly beautiful Gorongosa National Park, once the crown jewel of Mozambique, was nearly destroyed by decades of civil war. It looked like a perfect place for Western philanthropy: revive the park and tourists would return, a win-win outcome for the environment and the impoverished villagers living in the area. So why did some researchers find the local communities actually getting hungrier, sicker, and poorer as the project went on? And why did efforts to bring back wildlife become far more difficult than expected?… In pursuit of answers, Stephanie Hanes takes readers on a vivid safari across southern Africa, from the shark-filled waters off Cape Agulhas to a reserve trying to save endangered wild dogs. She traces the tangled history of Western missionaries, explorers, and do-gooders in Africa, from Stanley and Livingstone to Teddy Roosevelt, from Bono and the Live Aid festivals to Greg Carr, the American benefactor of Gorongosa. And she examines the larger problems that arise when Westerners try to “fix” complex, messy situations in the developing world, acting with best intentions yet potentially overlooking the wishes of the people who live there. Beneath the uplifting stories we tell ourselves about helping Africans, she shows, often lies a dramatic misunderstanding of what the locals actually need and want.”
Wildlife of Southern Africa: A field guide to the animals and plants of the region This field guide is a great reference for birds, trees, flowering plants, and small and large mammals you might see throughout your trip. It is helpful at the wildlife centre and also on safari, and is a great place to mark all the species you have seen and identified during your trip.
Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things Amazon says, “In a world dominated by people and rapid climate change, species large and small are increasingly vulnerable to extinction. In Resurrection Science, journalist M. R. O’Connor explores the extreme measures scientists are taking to try and save them, from captive breeding and genetic management to de-extinction. Paradoxically, the more we intervene to save species, the less wild they often become. In stories of sixteenth-century galleon excavations, panther-tracking in Florida swamps, ancient African rainforests, Neanderthal tool-making, and cryogenic DNA banks, O’Connor investigates the philosophical questions of an age in which we “play god” with earth’s biodiversity.
Each chapter in this beautifully written book focuses on a unique species–from the charismatic northern white rhinoceros to the infamous passenger pigeon–and the people entwined in the animals’ fates. Incorporating natural history and evolutionary biology with conversations with eminent ethicists, O’Connor’s narrative goes to the heart of the human enterprise: What should we preserve of wilderness as we hurtle toward a future in which technology is present in nearly every aspect of our lives? How can we co-exist with species when our existence and their survival appear to be pitted against one another?”
*Links are affiliate links – thanks for supporting Loop Abroad!
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.
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 is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice starting January 2022 or later. Applications are due December 1, 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:
Announcement of Award: The scholarship winner will be notified by January 15th.
Why 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 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.
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.
Applications for the 2021-2022 school year are closed.
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:
The InternationalStudent.com 2020 Travel Video Contest gives students the opportunity to win a scholarship by sending in an original video discussing:
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.
"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