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P.E.I.’s Lindsay Gallant works with elephants, restores coral reefs and protects sea turtles in Thailand

Lindsay Gallant is seen during an underwater dive off the island of Koh Tao. Last fall she studied marine biology, helped to restore coral reefs and protect sea turtles. 2019 Loop Abroad/Photo special to The Guardian
Lindsay Gallant is seen during an underwater dive off the island of Koh Tao. Last fall she studied marine biology, helped to restore coral reefs and protect sea turtles. 2019 Loop Abroad/Photo special to The Guardian - Contributed

Lindsay Gallant, 20, of Charlottetown spent three months in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian, this past fall.

Traveling on the selective Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad (TVSA) hosted by study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Gallant was part of a small team that learned alongside veterinarians from around the globe while volunteering with elephants, sea turtles and other marine life, zoo animals, and shelter dogs.

The TVSA program brings together undergraduate students from across the United States and Canada to move their studies to Thailand for a semester so that they can work in small groups with veterinarians who specialize in different fields.

Students are based in Chiang Mai, Thailand but travel through the country to see different shelters and sanctuaries, learn from local vets and scientists, and volunteer with a variety of species in need.

While they learned about veterinary medicine, conservation and Thailand, Gallant and her team also helped by volunteering their time and skills.

From hauling elephant food to monitoring anesthesia in dog surgeries, they helped to support and care for the animals of Thailand while improving their own skills so that they can help more animals in the future.

Some of Gallant’s most interesting projects were volunteering at an elephant sanctuary and helping provide medical care for elephants, creating enrichment projects for zoo animals and living on the island of Koh Tao for three weeks studying marine biology and helping to restore coral reefs and protect sea turtles.

She also participated in an externship at a small animal hospital and helped care for dogs and cats in need at an animal shelter and clinic on an elephant sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai.

Gallant and her team also participated in a spay and neuter clinic for dogs in the rural villages in the mountains of Northern Thailand.

Admission to TVSA is competitive and requires a demonstrated interest in animals, a solid academic transcript, an essay, academic references, and completion of college-level biology. Veterinary Semester Abroad students receive course credit through our university partner.

Gallant was chosen as one of 14 students to participate.

Loop Abroad has study abroad programs for students and young adults from 14-30 and offers financial aid and fundraising assistance.

Their pre-veterinary programs in Asia, Africa, South America and Australia support ethical animal treatment while helping students learn in an in-depth and hands-on way.

In addition to the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad, Loop also offers a Global Veterinary Semester Abroad that takes place in South Africa, Thailand, and Ecuador, a South Africa Wildlife and Conservation Semester Abroad and a Custom Semester Abroad where students can design their own eight plus week adventure.

Loop also offers two-week programs throughout the summer.

Interested participants can inquire or apply at www.LoopAbroad.com.

Of her trip, Gallent describes Loop Abroad's Veterinary Semester as “a life-changing experience.”

“In the time span of 14 weeks, I have developed a tremendous amount of hands-on skills in the veterinary industry, all taught by inspirational veterinarians from around the world.”

The program opened her eyes to new areas of veterinary medicine that have now become her passion.

“Working hands-on doing marine and coral reef conservation and restoration was by far my favorite part of the trip. Diving into this area of veterinary medicine, opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity that I cannot wait to explore and it’s all thanks to Loop Abroad.”

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