ASCI Student Experiences Hands-on Veterinarian Work in South Africa

Sadie Gidner

*The following is an excerpt from a Loop Abroad press release.

This summer, Sadie Gidner, 20, of Arlington, Virginia, spent two weeks in South Africa helping animals and learning hands-on what its like to be a veterinarian. Sadie is a UVM junior majoring in animal science.

Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Sadie was selected as part of a small team that volunteered at Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary studying big cats such as white and tawny lions, Siberian tigers, pumas, and leopards and caring for primates as well as volunteering at Care for Wild learning about the rescue, care for, and protection of rhinos.

The Loop Abroad Pre-Veterinary program brings students to South Africa for three weeks to volunteer and study alongside veterinarians from the US and from South African animal experts. For the first two weeks Sadie and her team took a course in the anatomy, handling, medical needs in captivity, behavior, and conservation of five main groups of animals at Lory Park: birds of prey, reptiles, big cats, small cats, and primates, so that they could be better equipped to study and help support the animals at Lory Park Zoo.

Sadie and her team provided care for the animals at the zoo, including feeding the animals, building and helping to provide enrichment for them. She was also able to travel to Kruger National Park to observe African wildlife, where she was able to see zebras, African elephants, giraffes, and many other types of African mammals and other wildlife.

For the last week of the three-week South Africa Experience, Sadie and her team traveled to the world’s largest orphaned rhino sanctuary: Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa. It is a rescue, rehab, and release project for rhinos orphaned by poaching. During this week, Sadie attended educational lectures, assisted with daily feeding and the upkeep of young rhinos, and learned about wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching both in the field and on game drives. Together, they observed essential procedures and even embarked on a trip to visit Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden!

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