Getting Hands On with Wildlife: A Vet Student in Bolivia

Laura Foddy is a third year veterinary student who has just returned from three months in Bolivia with our supported charity La Senda Verde. Find out more about her South American adventure…

La Senda Verde is an absolutely fabulous experience if you want to mix working with animals with an adventure. All the people at La Senda Verde 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 8am and finishes around 6pm. For the first two weeks I got to go around all the different sections, so spent three days looking after birds, then the "specials" and then 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 supervision of the vets, you're expected to get on with feeding and cleaning of all the animals. You need to be prepared that the majority of work is feeding and cleaning, however when something comes in, such as an emergency surgery, I was able to assist. For example, capuchin monkeys frequently came in for some 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 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 amazing 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 some of our other vet student trips!

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