Tropical Animal Science - Loop Abroad - Veterinary Service and Study Abroad

Summer programs
Tropical Animal Science: Large Animal Medicine and Marine Conservation

Applications for Winter and Summer 2021 are now open! 

Enroll and deposit for 2021 now and Loop Abroad will donate $100 to our local partner, PAWS Veterinary Clinic.

Learn Large Animal Veterinary Medicine and Tropical Coral Reef Ecology in Belize

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This two-week Central American adventure gives you the chance to explore all of Belize, from the rainforest to the Caribbean coast. Spend one week studying large animal veterinary medicine on local farms, while using your evenings and weekends to discover Belizean culture and natural wonders like waterfalls and caves. The other week will be spent on the coast, where your snorkel-based course will teach you all about coral reef ecology and the marine life off the coast of Belize.

Who 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. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

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

Each group of up to 13 students will have its own veterinarian for the large animal portion of the course and may learn from local farmers and veterinary staff as well. The marine portion of your course will be taught by a marine instructor.


  • Work alongside a large animal vet in a farm-based field course
  • Try Belizean and Maya meals at lunches and dinners
  • Visit the Belize Iguana Project
  • Learn all about large animal medicine in the tropics
  • Discover Maya sites and history at Xunantunich temple
  • Explore jungle waterfalls and caves
  • Horseback ride
  • Zipline through the rainforest
  • Swim in the Caribbean Sea and study coral and other marine wildlife

See the itinerary here!

Dates open for applications

Winter 2021

January 2 – July 16, 2021

Summer 2021

June 26 – July 10, 2021

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).

 apply now

*Subject to 1 days +/- on the schedule, includes travel days


Tuition is $3,950 USD plus airfare. Belize is a two-hour flight from Miami. You will book your own airfare to arrive on Saturday and depart on Saturday.

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: 30 hours

Animal Experience Hours: 25 hours

Your group will have approximately 13 students, and there may be multiple groups in-country at the same 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!

You will get to know your vet during the program, and they will get to know you! If you participate to the best of your ability, you’ll be well-positioned to ask for a recommendation letter at the end of the program.

This program provides a total of 60 service hours. Loop Abroad is a certifying organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, for which those hours are eligible.

Students can also earn 3 college credits from Iowa Wesleyan University for this program — additional enrollment fee applies.


Belize is a small, Central American country on the Caribbean Sea, just a 2-hour flight from Miami. Over fifty percent of Belize is covered by rainforest. This English-speaking country is home to a mix of cultures and offers fascinating opportunities to explore Maya sites, as well as caves, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches.

This two-week program gives you the chance to discover Belizean culture and nature while exploring two different sides of animal science in the tropics: large animal veterinary medicine and marine ecology.

For one week, you will learn about large animal veterinary medicine in the tropics, working with a veterinarian on local farms to learn about and help to care for animals such as horses, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. Lectures will supplement field course activities so that you can understand the veterinary science behind each hands-on activity. Your program provides community veterinary funding, as it funds the veterinary visits and the supplies used, and also offers you insight into farming and large animal care practice and issues in tropical developing countries.

During this week and over the weekend, you’ll have a chance to explore aspects of Belizean culture and its beautiful natural environment, including:

  • Trying Belizean and Maya meals at lunches and dinners
  • Visiting the Belize Iguana Project
  • Discovering Maya architecture and history at Xunantunich temple
  • Exploring jungle waterfalls and caves
  • Horseback riding
  • Ziplining through the rainforest

For the other week, you’ll live at the beach on the Caribbean Sea to participate in a snorkel-based marine course. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300km section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It’s the second-largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s estimated that only ten percent of the species in the reef have been discovered.

The focus of this snorkel-based course is to learn the key biotic and abiotic components of a coral reef system and how they interact. You will spend lots of time in the water each day, so be ready! The course will help students to understand the biological and ecological history of the reef system and try to predict its future under varied management strategies. Lectures will help students to understand possible coral reef conservation strategies globally.

Get more details about this program…