Animal care internships
How international animal care internships add to a positive global impact
Tropical, seaside or seriously mountainous, taking part in animal care internships means you can travel to some of the world’s most sought-after terrains. All of our animal care internships abroad take place in destinations that are visited by endangered or vulnerable animals of all kinds. And, international animal care internships allow you to get involved in jobs abroad that add to the well-being of both these creatures and the environments they call home.
Take part in a stimulating on-the-ground work experience while engaging with sea turtle rehabilitation centres, forest-based animal care organisations, or marine-based centres that do work in some of the world’s most biodiverse waters.
Our animal care internships are spread across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. You’ll gain international work experience collaborating with reputable local and global animal care organisations. You’ll also be adding to the conservation of various creatures including:
- green sea turtles
- hawksbill sea turtles
- lemon sharks
- loggerhead sea turtles
- Thai elephants
- various fish and marine invertebrates.
Learn the ropes of the field over a season on one of our summer animal care internships, or spend time adding to your employability on a short- or long-term animal care internship at any other time of the year.
Spend your free time practising responsible tourism and adding to a positive global impact. Lounge on the soft sands of a beach in Thailand or Greece, ignite your adventurous side zip lining through tree canopies in a Costa Rican rainforest, or gain a new global perspective while looking out over the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean from the shore of a small Seychelles island.
Every activity you get involved in while on an animal care internship gives you the chance to build on your professional skill set, and add to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 15: Life on Land.
What you’ll gain from animal care internships abroad
An animal care internship is a real-life platform where you can work towards a career as a conservationist, wildlife researcher, or animal-care project supervisor. This immersive practical experience isn’t easy to come by since ecosystems like rainforests, tropical islands and mountainous cloud forests aren’t usually just beyond your doorstep.
Every GVI animal care internship is rated more than nine out of ten by GoAbroad.com because of the sought-after destinations you can travel to, the impact of our programs and the types of animal care jobs you can get involved in.
Like on all GVI programs, you’ll also cultivate important skills like teamwork. But a GVI internship takes this development further than on a standard volunteering program.
As an animal care intern you’ll have opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities. You’ll also have access to quality mentorship. This is one of the reasons an animal care internship is a strong option for participants who have a clearer idea of the direction they want to take in their career.
And GVI’s international animal care internships can add to your field credibility in a big way when applying for jobs. You’ll have access to GVI’s Wildlife Conservation online course as part of your training, and gain a certificate from the University of Richmond on completion of your program. This is proof to employers that you have the skills and ability to work towards global sustainable development in a meaningful way. It also goes to show that you’ve gained experience collaborating with local and international organisations, which is considered an asset on any professional sustainable development team.
Thailand is located on a peninsula of the Asian continent that juts out into the Andaman Sea. It’s encircled by countries like India, Philippines, China, Malaysia and Singapore.
It’s a tropical territory where the deepest sea valleys dip to more than 4,000 metres, and the tallest mountain peak rises to meet the sky 2,000 metres above sea level. Draped across this rugged terrain are jungles, mangrove forests and warm sea waters embellished with colourful coral reefs. In Phang Nga and Chiang Mai, Thailand, these environments play host to tons of mammals, primates, fish, reptiles and insects. They’re also where you’ll spend your office hours while on an international animal care internship in Thailand.
Take on an animal care internship abroad in the mountains of Chiang Mai and work with traditional elephant keepers with a wealth of elephant care knowledge that’s been passed down through generations. See how elephants have been affected by being part of the tourism industry, and add to work that builds on their reintegration into their natural environment. One of the most striking features of this animal care internship is that it provides a real-life demonstration of how animals, environments and human beings can and do interact positively within an ecosystem.
With Thailand’s kilometres of coastline, it’s no surprise that the waters off its shores are swimming with marine creatures of all kinds. From a spread of sea turtle and stingray species to black finless porpoises and a multitude of tropical fish, Phang Nga is a sight for sore eyes when it comes to animal spotting opportunities.
And, on an animal care internship, you can work with the Royal Thai Navy in sea turtle care programs. Take heed as you’re orientated and supervised by experts in the field while researching and providing cleaning and health checks to green and other species of sea turtles.
This kind of work will give you valuable hands-on experience in working for an animal care organisation and abiding by the ethics and practical guidelines it employs. You can choose to take part in summer animal care internships over 4–12 weeks or gain even more work experience on a six-month international animal care internship, depending on the amount of time you have available.
Don your island attire, set your sights on the sea, and make a splash in an animal care internship that takes place in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Seychelles. Whether you’ve been placed on a conservation animal care internship on Curieuse Island, or set up for a marine conservation animal care internship on Mahe island, you can be sure that you’re about to unleash a whole world of creature-featured work experience.
Seychelles is an archipelago of over 100 islands that’s also one of the world’s smallest countries. But don’t let its size fool you. This country is home to an abundance of jungle terrain that crawls across colossal granitic mountains, and kilometres of coral reef that hem in the coastlines of the islands. And what lives in these parts? Well, this terrain is also home to around 200 plant species, of which at least 80 are unique to these islands. It also houses more than 900 species of fish and an abundance of birds, marine animals and amphibians.
While working with the Seychelles National Parks Authority, GVI’s local partner, you can learn all about the catch-and-release method of marine research while studying the sicklefin lemon shark pups that live among the mangrove tree roots at the edge of the sandy island shore. Or improve your skill in marine animal monitoring while researching sea turtles, their nesting behaviours, and their nests and eggs during turtle nesting season.
In the Gulf of Kyparissia’s Giannitsochori, international animal care internships mean that you can perfect your skill set in an idyllic setting. Take in the golden sands washed smooth by the back and forth of frothy waves, and see the old-stone structures of houses perched on the mountainside or scattered along the coastal flats.
This is the perfect place to spend your free time relaxing at the seaside with your favourite book, or travelling from village to village to get a feel for Grecian life and culture.
As one of the world’s most important loggerhead turtle nesting sites, animal internships abroad set in the bay will gear you towards optimising your sea turtle research skills. It’s also the perfect platform to get involved in ethical animal care activities aimed at protecting sea turtle hatchlings from predators – like seagulls and crabs – and making their first journey to the ocean a success.
Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park is well known for its turtle viewing opportunities. More than 22,000 green sea turtles – one of the largest species of sea turtle on the planet – are known to lay their eggs here every year.
You’ll be based at our hub in the park itself, so forget about office vibes or stuck-at-home blues, because this animal internship abroad will transport you to some of the most amazing natural terrains. From rugged hills plastered with lush green foliage, to a river ecosystem bordered by stretches of sandy banks that guide the flow of water as it spills out into the Carribean Sea.
Work alongside GVI staff as you conduct day and night surveys aimed at researching green, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles. And gain once-in-a-lifetime research opportunities while doing wildlife and bird surveys in the surrounding rainforest. You’ll get to observe and monitor creatures that are found nowhere else in the world – like peccaries and rhinoceros beetles – and be able to add a multitude of species to your animal-care acquaintance list.
All you need to know about animal care internships abroad
Q: Is it necessary to handle wild animals on an animal care internship abroad?
A: It’s not always essential to interact with wild animals to contribute to their conservation. But, in some cases, the benefits of interacting with wild animals, under the supervision of experts, outweighs the risks. All of our international animal care internships only allow for interactions that are essential to the well-being of the animals involved.
Q: Is it safe to handle wild animals?
A: If you’re working with a reputable and ethical animal care organisation you can rest assured that you’ll be taking part in work that won’t put you at risk of being injured by a wild animal. All of GVI’s local staff and partners have expertise in the field and will supervise you in a way that is safe, while still allowing you to gain valuable experience. GVI also has a strict stance on animal interaction that is applied to every animal care internship we run.
Q: What’s the difference between an animal care summer internship and an animal care internship?
A: Animal care summer internships are convenient for those who want to get a head start in the field while they’re on their summer break from high school or university. Summer animal care internships are structured in the same way as any other animal care internship. You’ll stay at the same base and work with the same local and international partners. However, because animal behaviour changes according to the seasons, the projects you’ll get involved in during a summer animal care internship won’t be exactly the same as projects available at other times of the year. For instance, turtles have different nesting seasons. If your summer break is from June to August you may get to work with loggerhead and green sea turtles more often because they nest during this time.
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