Caitlyn's Group: South Africa

Volunteer at a cheetah and African wildlife facility in the African savanna and go on safari in Kruger National Park

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This two-week adventure of a lifetime gives you the opportunity to go to South Africa to volunteer at a cheetah conservation and breeding facility in the African savanna, go on safari in Kruger National Park, and take “ABCs of African Big Cats: Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation” taught by a DVM right alongside the cats themselves.


• 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 through Kruger National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world and home to lions, leopards, rhino, elephants, and buffalo
• See a variety of wildlife each day that calls the African savanna home

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Who It's For

This group is open to University of Georgia students referred by UGA student and Loop alumna Caitlyn Bernhard. It is not sponsored by, affiliated with, or endorsed by UGA.

Each group of up to 10 students will have its own US veterinarian accompanying them and will have the opportunity to learn from other Loop Abroad veterinarians with a variety of expertise who will be on the same program.


During the week the group will split its 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 through Kruger 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. Because cheetahs eat meat, this will mean handling and cutting raw meat, including antelope and zebra. You will not have to slaughter or butcher animals, but will have to handle dead animals for the cheetahs to eat.
  • Possible hands-on interactions with the cheetahs in small groups. This interaction may be over an hour and may include grooming, training, feeding, or other activities in which you will assist the cheetah handlers.
  • Observe the cheetahs closely throughout your time on the project, as well as the African wild dogs, caracals, black-backed jackals, African wild cats, lions, owls, porcupines, and bat-eared foxes who are being rehabilitated or are permanent residents at the center.

  • We may or may not be able to provide medical care to the animals on the property, depending what is needed at the time
  • There will likely be opportunities to perform necropsies on various antelope species and other wildlife. (Available if animals have otherwise died and will be used for animal food; they will not be killed for this purpose.)
  • Participate in a classroom-based course taught by a Loop Abroad veterinarian to learn more about big cats and their care
  • Participate in several specially designed veterinary labs including remote drug delivery (darting), on-site diagnostics, restraint, handling, and physical exams, and suture techniques on models and necropsy specimens.
  • Evenings will be filled with fun activities with your volunteer coordinator, such as "sundowners" (spotting for wildlife at sunset), stargazing, evening braai (South African barbeque), cultural activities, games, and nature walks around the center, home to zebra, giraffes, kudu, impala, warthogs, and other free-roaming animals.
  • Safari in Kruger National Park, home to over 500 bird species, beautiful African landscapes, and almost 150 large mammal species - more than any other game reserve in Africa
  • Visit a cultural village and hear from a wildlife veterinarian while at Kruger
  • Loop Abroad’s groups will have the opportunity to assist the staff in all aspects of caring for the cheetahs and other animals. There will be ample opportunities to observe the animals amidst work time.

    Courses and Hours

    Veterinary Hours (for vet school applications): 80 veterinary hours

    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 will be well-positioned to ask for a recommendation letter at the end of the program.

    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.

    Loop Abroad can provide you with a pass/fail transcript for the course "Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation of African Big Cats" at your request. This course is the academic component of your program. If you are seeking credit from your college or university, please contact us for any assistance needed.

    Tuition and Dates

    2018 Dates:* May 19 - June 4, 2018.

    Tuition:$3,275 USD not including international airfare. Airfare on the group flight from New York is estimated at $1,700 roundtrip including all taxes and fees.

    This tuition represents a 15% discount on our regular program tuition for your group. No additional discounts or aid are available.

    Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid. Your deposit is due by November 30, 2017 to secure your private group booking. Balance of your tuition is due by February 1, 2018. Interest-free payment plans are available.

    All housing, meals, and activities are included in your tuition. 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.

    Travel off the group itinerary must be approved by Loop Abroad and carries fees. Please contact before booking travel off the group itinerary.


    As a UGA student, you may simply enroll in this program through a simplified application process. This guarantees your admission (barring any health factors that make it unsafe for you to participate). On the application page:

  • Choose "Caitlyn's Group: South Africa" as your program. (If you'd also like to attend another Loop Abroad program before or after the South Africa program, you may select that one as well.)
  • Choose not to add a Bonus Week.
  • You may leave the essay blank
  • You may leave the transcript blank
  • You may leave the references blank. Because the email field is required, simply enter your own email address.
  • As a member of a private group, you do still need to pay the $50 application fee. If you attend the program, your $50 application fee will be credited toward your tuition, making the remaining tuition $3,225. If you choose not to attend, your application fee is non-refundable.
  • Apply Now!

    For More Information

    Message us on Facebook, call us at (617) 412-0838, fill out the contact form, or send an email to any time!

    *Dates indicate departure from and return to New York. 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.