Veterinary Service: 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

The "Veterinary Service: South Africa" program is open to anyone age 18-25.
You do not need to currently be enrolled in college, have a specific major or degree, or have any veterinary experience for either program. Programs are tailored to a university-level student.

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

    This program is created with students who may want to apply to vet school in mind. For your application to vet school, the program provides the following hours:

    Veterinary Hours (for vet school applications): 80 veterinary 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 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, June 2 - June 18, OR June 16 - July 2.
    There are 3 groups of 10 on each date. If you want to be in the same group as a friend, please let us know.

    Tuition:$3,850 USD not including international airfare. Airfare on the group flight from New York is estimated at $1,700 roundtrip including all taxes and fees.

    Limited financial aid is available. Interest-free payment plans are available.

    Once accepted, your $1,000 tuition deposit is required to hold your space. 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.

    All housing and meals are included in your tuition.

    Apply now.

    Our Veterinary Service: South Africa program is a full adventure on its own, or it can be combined with any of our Thailand two-week programs to create a custom four-week program just for you! Combining two programs gets you an automatic 10% discount on the tuition for each program, but you will need to pay for the additional airfare.

    Alternatively, this program can be supplemented with a Bonus Week to customize your three-week adventure to be exactly what you want. You will have to pay additional airfare if you choose a Bonus Week in a country other than South Africa.

    How to Apply

    On the Application for Admission, choose "Veterinary Service: South Africa" as your program and select all dates that you would be able to attend.

    If you want to combine with another program or add a bonus week, please select that on your application as well. If you have any questions about how to combine programs or add bonus weeks, you can contact us at

    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.