By Jocelyn Reyes, Dec. 06, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona biology student, Priscilla Martinez, had the opportunity this past June to study abroad in Thailand and had the chance to discover and learn about rescued elephants.
Martinez has traveled to many countries, with Thailand being her 20th country. This time she was able to take a step towards receiving her pre-vet hours but what she took from the trip was more than that.
With Thailand being home to the first veterinarian program, Loop Abroad, launched for university students, Martinez was chosen for the opportunity to go on a two-weeklong pre-veterinary medicine program in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The Loop Abroad is a program that helps rescued elephants, cats and dogs by creating a safe place where they are being taken care of. While providing students hands-on learning opportunities to make a positive impact on animals around the world.
“Loop Abroad, which focuses primarily with students who are interested in pre-veterinary medicine, including programs related to veterinarian, marine sites and health. With most participants being high school or undergraduate students interested in animal science,” said Jane Stine, manager director of Loop Abroad.
In the first week, students work with a vet staff to care for dogs at the Dog Rescue Clinic outside of Chiang Mai. Gaining the opportunity to work with the dogs hands-on with practicing medical skills. During week two, students participate in working with elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. Students are able to provide care for them physically.
“With a lot of people using tourism in elephants and a lot of them having hip dysplasia and that’s where we are able to assist them in getting their medication,” said Martinez. “The program has rescued about 300 elephants.”
Although there were about 100 elephants that need to be taken care of, the Elephant Nature Park collected a lot of data and assigned certain elephants so that they could be there for a week to monitor their eating habits, water consumption, behavior and provide that information to their handlers in order to detect any changes in the elephant’s condition.
“By providing vaccinations, so giving them their pain medication, tramadol, and this is because all of the elephants that are held in the nature park are rescued they come from elephant riding, as some for street begging and some are used for logging and with logging a lot of them do some of them would step on line, causing them to injure their feet, becoming blind, and injured,” said Martinez.
The work that volunteers have done with the elephants has given the animals a new opportunity at life and has given them a new home.
“My takeaway was that one of the things I would like to do is work as a veterinarian and I would like to work with large exotics, so that means anywhere from elephants,” said Martinez. “They have a program that works with cheetahs and I think that would be exciting and something I want to be able to do and this gave me more motivation on applying for veterinarian school.”
By taking part in programs like this one, students are exposed to new opportunities and challenges in their career.
“I wonder if students are interested in studying abroad. Whether short term or full semester, I would encourage them to reach out to the study abroad office to look for available programs,” said Stine. “I think oftentimes students might think they can’t study abroad because they can’t afford to, but I just didn’t realize how many opportunities there are available for refunding.”
Feature image courtesy of Priscilla Martinez
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