Explore the rich cultural history and ecological diversity of South Africa during an immersive semester abroad. This unique adventure gives students the opportunity to implement the important work conservation and zoo vets do while also visiting some of South Africa's most popular sites!
Spanning the course of three months, students will have endless opportunities to gain hands-on experience learning clinical skills and providing care to South African animals in need. Gain valuable experience learning and implementing the important work conservation and zoo vets do while also enjoying free time visiting some of South Africa’s most popular sites, including going on safari!
The semester is divided into blocks that will you take in a set sequence so that you can focus on one course at a time immersed in a zoo, reserve, sanctuary, or city setting. With each block, you will build and practice new knowledge and skills. The coursework is demanding, but you will go home with memories of a lifetime and key experiences that will prepare you for your career working with animals or in conservation.
The semester in South Africa is comparable to a full semester of courses including labs at your home institution. Here are the courses you'll be taking during the South Africa Semester Abroad:
- History and Culture of South Africa – 3 credits
- Wildlife Conservation and Management– 3 credits
- Zoo Husbandry and Management – 3 credits
- One Health Concepts in Action – 3 credits
- Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation of Big Cats – 3 credits
- Wildlife Research – 3 credits
History and Culture of South Africa
This course will be split between two locations: the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary and the Ocean Research Conservation Africa marine conservation center. By spending time learning in these diverse locations, students will have a chance to learn about wildlife conservation and management from varied perspectives.
Zoo Husbandry and Management
This course is based at Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary in South Africa. Lory Park is one of only six zoos in Africa accredited by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria, with a focus on education and conservation. Your program will focus on understanding the anatomy, handling, medical needs in captivity, behavior, and conservation of six main groups of animals at the park: birds of prey, reptiles, big cats, small cats, cubs, and primates.
One Health Concepts in Action
This course will give students the chance to interact with and study One Health concepts both in the classroom and in the field.
Our time in the field includes game drives and exploration of wild areas, necropsies and other laboratory work, visits to research stations and labs, discovering anti-poaching tactics, working in a wildlife clinic, a medical community visit including both human and animal clinics, and practice bushwalking and tracking.
Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation of Big Cats
This course will take place at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary, which focuses on educating the public about lion conservation. The course is designed to help students learn about the anatomy, behavior, and conservation of African big cats through a combination of lectures, lab activities, observation, and husbandry and enrichment.
This course will focus on understanding aspects of wildlife research such as designing research questions and collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. Students will participate in field research on the black-footed cat, a vulnerable species with a decreasing population, as a way of practicing and implementing the skills they are learning in the classroom.
How to Apply
The South Africa Wildlife and Conservation Semester Abroad is open to students from all academic backgrounds, not just pre-vet students.
We welcome students to study with us as a gap year after high school to decide if they want to pursue a veterinary education. We also welcome students who have completed an undergraduate degree but want to enhance their vet school application.
We are proud to often host students on their first trip abroad as well as students who are seasoned international travelers. You do not need to be a US citizen to apply.
Who Can Apply
In order to enroll in the South Africa Wildlife and Conservation Semester Abroad, applicants must meet the following requirements by the time the semester begins.
- Eighteen years or older (most students are 18 to 25)
- High School diploma or equivalent
- 3 credits of college-level Biology or equivalent (AP/IB Biology scores can qualify) completed with a C (70%) or better
- Passport valid for 6 months from the end of the program
- Healthy enough to travel and work outside in hot, humid climate
- Able to swim