Laura Foddy, a third-year veterinary student, joined the team at La Senda Verde in Bolivia for a three-month adventure helping animals in need. Here she is to tell you all about her experience volunteering abroad.
"La Senda Verde is an absolutely fabulous experience if you want to mix working with animals with an adventure. All the people were great to work with, and I learnt so much about all the animals through their experiences. Vicky, the owner of the sanctuary, is extremely passionate about the animals and educating people on the importance of being ecological."
"The animals are awesome. They are all so beautiful and given the amount of time I spent here, I got to know various personalities, especially with the monkeys and a few of the parrots. I’m sure with even just a short couple of weeks here, you’d get to know and love them for all their quirks! I loved being able to go to the keepers and ask them about particular behaviours or expressions with the monkeys. I learnt a lot about the individual monkey as well as learning about the species in general."
"The work itself starts at 8:00am and finishes around 6:00pm. For the first two weeks I got to go around all the different sections, so spent three days looking after birds, then the bears and cats. During this time, I learnt a lot about husbandry and facts about the animals. Then it was time to move into the clinic. The work in the clinic is more independent, and whilst you're working under the supervision of the qualified vets, you're expected to get on with feeding the animals and cleaning their enclosures. You need to be prepared that the majority of work is feeding and cleaning, however, when something comes in, such as emergency surgery, I was able to assist. For example, capuchin monkeys frequently came in for stitches after an injury, and we also had a turtle autopsy and a few amputations to deal with! It was always very interesting to learn about these cases!"
"I came out of this trip having really enjoyed meeting these fabulous people and animals, and it was a great way to explore this country and understand it culturally. Being in the rainforest was an amazing adventure and I got to get hands-on with animals I would otherwise never have met. It’s really worth spending some time at this incredible sanctuary because of all the phenomenal work they do." "Most of the people at La Senda Verde spoke very good English, and I was able to get by without learning Spanish, although in hindsight, learning Spanish to a decent level would have been very beneficial."
If you’ve been inspired by Laura’s experience and feel ready to get hands-on with some of Bolivia’s rescued wildlife, take a look at our volunteer placements at La Senda Verde or our other programmes for vets, nurses, students, and non-vets around the world.