Academics, Student Life

Biology major worked with elephants in Thailand

By CSU Media | October 18, 2018
Deanna Yates

Deanna Yates, a junior biology major, spent two weeks in Thailand during the summer helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Yates was selected as part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and spent a week working directly with rescued elephants at an elephant sanctuary.

The Veterinary Service program brings students to Thailand for two weeks to volunteer alongside veterinarians from the U.S. and Thailand.  Yates and her team volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand to work hands-on with the giant animals and learn about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale. The Elephant Nature Park is home to over 60 elephants who have been rescued from trekking, logging, or forced breeding programs. Many of them had been abused and suffer from chronic injuries or blindness.

Yates said, “My favorite part of Elephant Nature Park was acknowledging and understanding their hands-off approach with the elephants. Observing the elephants from a distance is a better experience than forcing the elephants to do things that they don’t want to do, such as the cruel treatment of elephant rides and pictures!” 

Deanna Yates

For the other week, she volunteered at the Animal Rescue Kingdom dog shelter and helped to run Loop Abroad’s Dog Rescue Clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. By providing check-ups and cleanings, diagnosing and treating ear and eye problems, taking and testing blood, administering vaccines, cleaning and treating wounds, and helping with sterilization surgeries, the students were able to help support the health and well-being of these dogs. 

By following a study abroad model instead of a voluntourism model, Loop focuses on educating its students so that they can contribute and serve in meaningful ways. Loop Abroad has animal science, marine biology, and veterinary programs for students and young adults in several countries and offers financial aid and fundraising help. Programs range from two weeks in summer to a full semester abroad, and college credit is available. Interested participants can inquire or apply at

Photos provided © 2018 Loop Abroad

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