Summer programs
South Africa Pre-Vet Big Cats


Applications are open for Summer 2023!


Save $100 with our Early Enrollment Discount!

Accepted students who deposit by September 30th will receive our biggest tuition discount of the year!

Volunteer with cheetahs on the African savanna and take a safari through Pilanesberg National Park!

Read student reviews on GoOverseas and GoAbroad!

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The Veterinary Service in South Africa program is a two-week adventure of a lifetime that gives you the opportunity to volunteer at a cheetah breeding and conservation facility, learn about African wildlife hands-on in the African savanna, go on safari in Pilanesberg National Park, and take “ABCs of African Big Cats: Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation” taught by 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.

African Elephants in veterinary service in south AfricaWho It’s For

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, but we also accept full-time undergraduates over 25.

You do not need to currently be in college, have a specific major or degree, or have any veterinary experience for either program. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

Each group of up to 10 students will have its own veterinarian, though on some dates multiple groups may have class together to learn from one another’s vets. Loop Abroad groups will have exclusive access to a cheetah conservation center during the program.

Giraffes in veterinary service in south AfricaHighlights

• Feed and help provide medical care to cheetahs throughout the program
• Maintain and care for cheetah facility and enclosures
• Learn about all aspects of care and management of captive wildlife
• Go on safari throughPilanesberg National Park, home to lions, leopards, rhino, elephants, and buffalo
• See a variety of wildlife each day that calls the African savanna home
See Itinerary here!

Dates open for applications

Cheetah Cubs cuddle to each otherSummer 2023

May 13 – May 28, 2023

May 27 – June 11, 2023 **waitlist only, email [email protected] to be notified

*June 10 – June 25, 2023

*June 24 – July 9, 2023

July 8 – July 23, 2023

July 22 – Aug 6, 2023

 

apply now

*Subject to 1 days +/- on the schedule, includes travel days
*Dates indicate departure from and return to New York. Final dates may be adjusted 1 day in either direction to accommodate flight availability. Some flights depart early in the morning and may require students to arrive in New York 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.

Loop Abroad pre vet student feeding the cheetahs
Students routinely assist in feeding the cheetahs. Some cheetahs are fed through a small door in the fence, and others by entering the enclosure.

Want to travel longer with us? Add another two-week program in Thailand, Australia, or South Africa and save $100 on each program tuition.

South Africa for one month: 2 programs, 6 credits

This program can be combined seamlessly with our South Africa Zoo Medicine program for a full four weeks of veterinary courses in South Africa. Programs begin and end in South Africa on Sunday, so you can go directly from one program to the next, with no additional airfare. You will receive a $100 discount on each program tuition for combining the two programs.

Tuition:

Wild Rhinos in Kruger National Park
You may be able to see wild rhinos inPilanesberg National Park.

Tuition is $4350, not including airfare.

Airfare on the group flight from New York, NY is estimated at $1800 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).

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 does not include medical insurance – if you don’t have medical insurance that covers you while abroad, you can purchase travel medical insurance. We can help you find a plan that meets our insurance requirements.

Courses and Hours

This program was designed with pre-vet students in mind. For your application to vet school (VMCAS), this program provides the following hours:

Veterinary Hours: 50 hours
Research Hours: 15 hours

Loop Abroad students taking group picture at Kruger National Park
Your group will have approximately 10 students, and there will likely be 3 groups in total on the project at a time.

Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications but will earn at least this many hours.

The AVMA says “If you have the opportunity to work… for veterinarians who work with different species, that’s a bonus that can make you more appealing to a veterinary school admissions committee.” We’re proud to offer you that opportunity!

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.

Student enrichment projects for animals such as this African Painted Dog.
Student enrichment projects for animals such as this African Painted Dog help to maintain a high quality of life for these animals.

This program provides a total of 80 service hours. Loop Abroad is a certifying organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, for which those hours are eligible.

You can receive 3 credits from the University of Findlay for this program. (Additional fee applies.) Loop Abroad can also assist you in working to get credit directly from your school. If you are seeking credit from your college or university, please contact us for any assistance needed.

COVID and Safety

All participants will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (which may include boosters if eligible). All participants will adhere to the Loop Abroad COVID policy which includes providing a negative COVID test within 2 days prior to travel, wearing a mask when flying and when interacting outside of your “travel pod” (your group and staff), daily symptom report, and testing if symptoms are present.

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

What if my program isn’t canceled, but I can’t travel for personal reasons?

We understand that sometimes even though a program is not canceled, an individual participant may be unable to travel due to illness or other personal reasons. In addition to our refund policy, if you must cancel your program enrollment less than 35 days before travel, for any reason at all, you can replace your program with the following virtual package.

 

This package includes 5 university credits from Iowa Wesleyan University (if you successfully complete the courses) and has a retail value of $5,080.

This offer is valid for cancellation of travel programs between 35 days and 1 day before the program begins, when no refunds are available for participants canceling their travel. One virtual package available per participant; non-transferable. A participant canceling their enrollment more than 35 days prior is welcome to select this option over their refund if they so choose.

Want to travel with us longer?

Link this program to another two-week program and save $100 on each tuition. This program can combine with:

Apply Now

Itinerary

When impalas are used to feed the cheetah, students also have an opportunity to practice surgical technique and suturing.

During the week, you’ll split your time between volunteering at the cheetah facility and learning from our Loop Abroad vets. At the end of week one, the group will depart for a two-day safari throughPilanesberg National Park.

Here are some of the activities you can expect to participate in:

  • Maintenance and care for the cheetah facility and enclosures, including construction projects.

  • Prepare food for the cheetahs each day. Because cheetahs eat meat, this will mean cutting up meat, including antelope and other animals who have been hit by cars. You will not have to slaughter any live animals for food, but will have to be able to butcher dead animals for the cheetahs to eat.
  • Veterinary labs such as necropsies, surgical practice, and microscope use. While we do NOT purchase dead animals for necropsy, we may use an already-dead animal that is being used to feed the cheetahs to practice necropsy, suture, and surgical skills.
  • Short hands-on interactions with the cheetahs in small groups, including feeding opportunities and meeting a cheetah ambassador. You may have a chance to help socialize with cubs (involves close contact but not touching), but this is not guaranteed.
  • Observe the cheetahs closely throughout your time on the project, as well as the caracals, servals, African wild cat, black-footed cat, a porcupine, meercats, rescued lions, and horses that call the center home.

    Lions
    In Pilanesberg National Park, most groups are able to see lions in the wild.
  • We may or may not be able to provide medical care to the animals on the property, depending what is needed at the time
  • Participate in a classroom-based course taught by the Loop Abroad veterinarians to learn more about big cats and their care (one lecture per weekday)
  • Evenings will be filled with fun activities with your volunteer coordinator, such as a trivia night or a stargazing evening
  • Safari in Pilanesberg National Park

Loop Abroad’s groups 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 safari trip.

 

Some days, you will assist in maintenance of the animal habitats and other upkeep to the property as one of your activities.

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 work with and observe cheetahs 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.

Reading List

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 FreedomLong 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

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 LionSoul 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

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 GameWhite 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 AfricaWildlife 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 ScienceResurrection 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!

Scholarships

 

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. When you look for scholarships for pre-vet programs, you need to look at all your options!

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the next deadline is March 1 at 11:59 pm 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 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

Focused elephant imageLoop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice. Applications for 2023 are now open and are due December 1, 2022, for your choice of an online program in 2023. We’re proud to add this to the list of scholarships for pre-vet programs.

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:
To apply, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Apply for 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 (instagram.com/loopabroad) 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 January 15th.

Dr. Erica Ward holding a black dog and an elephant at the background and an 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 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.)

Details:
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.

The scholarship is non-transferable. If the student cannot attend, the 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:

Young lady holding a blue parrotThe 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 receive 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 opens 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 Scholarships:

Smiling woman hanging on a ropeThe 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 for 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:

Loop Abroad scholarships student checking heartbeat of the tigerThe Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) invests in promising students with financial needs who wish to study abroad. Potential applicants who meet our eligibility requirements may participate in 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.

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 Spring 2023 (programs from January- May) are due by September 15, 2022 at 12pm (noon) EST. Students may review the scholarship and application instructions here.

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

  • The Hiliary Echo Douglas Memorial Scholarship – for students studying abroad in Southeast Asia
  • Boston Area Study Abroad Association Scholarship – for students with schools in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut.
  • Rainbow Scholarship – For LGBTQI students that participate in a high-quality, rigorous education abroad program.
  • Malú Alvarez Global Access Scholarship- Five scholarships for semester-long programs to be awarded for study in any country.
  • NAFSA Tamara H. Bryant Memorial Scholarship- These funds are awarded to African-American undergraduate students in the United States who hope to study abroad.
  • Gateway International Group Education Abroad Scholarship- Scholarship awarded to those who are first-generation college students, or those whose home or college of study is in Kentucky.

InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest:

Smiling woman holding small wildcatThe InternationalStudent.com 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.

NAFSA scholarships

NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and they have a long list of scholarship databases (including scholarships for pre-vet programs) that might help make your program possible!

"This program helped me come out of my shell and taught me a lot. The people and animals are amazing. By the end of it I didn’t want to leave!"

Kelynn N., South Africa Veterinary Service 2017

Virginia Tech, Leesburg, VA