Zoo Research Fellowship - Loop Abroad

Zoo Research Fellowship

Learn and practice zoo research skills…

from anywhere on Earth

Loop Abroad is proud to offer remote research fellowships to support on-going research at the outstanding Lory Park Zoo in Johannesburg, South Africa. Even if you’re stuck at home, you can be learning the real-world research skills needed to objectively measure and improve animal welfare in any captive situation.

As a team, you will be contribute to the following research projects:

  • Black-footed cat husbandry. Black-footed cats are the smallest African cat and are endemic to Southern Africa, but very little is known about how to care for them properly.
    Black-footed cats unique to Southern Africa

    Observe cat behavior and other health indicators to improve care for this vulnerable species. Also, help analyze data that will be part of new leopard and serval husbandry manuals!

  • Improving welfare through enrichment. Working with servals, leopards, siamang gibbons, and/or Southern ground hornbills, you’ll learn how to do enrichment! Test new ways to enrich the animals’ experience through new food, toys, puzzles, new smells, or other creative ways to engage the animals. Collect behavior data before and after to make a scientific case for how your intervention does or does not improve animal welfare.

Fellows will be supervised and mentored virtually in group and one-on-one settings by the Lory Park Zoo Park Manager. You will learn the exact skills used every day by field researchers, and zookeepers to understand and support captive animal welfare. 

You will start by learning to how to closely identify each animal’s behaviors, what it means, and how to analyze footage from movement-activated camera traps. Analyzing footage is time-consuming and will take up most of your time as a research fellow. It’s time well spent: your analysis will provide the objective evidence to answer the research questions and prepare the project’s findings for publication and sharing with other zoos.

  • 6 week fellowships require 100 research hours
  • 3 week fellowships require 50 research hours

All students who successfully complete the fellowship will earn a Certificate in Captive Animal Behavior Monitoring and Enrichment from Loop Abroad. University credit is not included. Work expectations are similar to an on-campus undergraduate research fellowship.

Students may apply from anywhere in the world.

You must be fluent in English, have internet fast enough for video calls (minimum 1Mbps), and have a computer with video playback, microphone, and sound. No experience with zoos or veterinary medicine is required.

Fellowship Schedule

  • Block 1: Training in animal behavior, ethograms, and enrichment
    • This block will involve virtual meetings with your supervisor as well as  pre-recorded video lectures and written resources.
    • Learn about specific zoo animal behaviors and what they mean – you might be surprised to understand the body language of each species!
    • Learn the importance of ethograms and how they are developed and used in both field and captive settings
  • Block 2: Baseline observations
    • Analyze camera trap footage of black-footed cats and various animal species. This is when we collect the “before” data for each enrichment project.
    • Use your knowledge to carefully track specific body language and behaviors.
  • Block 3: Experimental observations
    • Analyze camera trap footage “after” your enrichment projects are implemented
  • Block 4: Present your findings
    • Work with your supervisors and team of research fellows to combine the data and statistically analyze it. Present your project findings to the research supervisors and Lory Park staff.

Dates, Meeting times, Deadlines

Each session is limited to 15 fellows to ensure one-on-one mentorship. Enrollment is rolling and sessions will close as soon as they fill. If a fellowship session is still listed here, there are still positions available.

Fellowship Pricing

Your tuition helps sponsors Lory Park Zoo and their animals during this time when they are closed to visitors.

Since many students have had difficulty finding shadowing or volunteer experiences due to COVID-19, we are heavily discounting tuition to help students meet their goals.

Fellowship DurationFull TuitionDiscounted Tuition
6-week fellowship (available on either winter start date)$2000$1495
3-week fellowship$1200$895

There are no additional readings, technology subscriptions, or course materials you have to purchase to participate in this fellowship.

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the deadline is March 1, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific Time!

See the official website for the latest details 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!

Enroll Now



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 (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 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:

InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest:

The 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.

Get more details about this program…

"I'm so thankful that I did this fellowship. It was more than I thought I was getting into, but it was definitely worth all of it!"

Cassidy F., Zoo Research Fellowship Online 2020

The Ohio State University

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