Loop Abroad International Study Abroad Program

Iowa Wesleyan is the official university of record for Loop Abroad, which enables students to participate in a pre-veterinary study abroad experience recognized as one of the premier programs of its kind. Students work with exotic animals in Thailand, Australia, and South Africa!

This unique opportunity through Loop Abroad includes:

  • Pre-veterinary internship program
  • Hands-on practical experience with exotic animals
  • Academic credit for work done in the field
  • Global connections and cross-cultural experiences
Loop Abroad logo
miles glover

Miles Glover, '21

Biology

“It was a fantastic experience to participate in! There are many things that I never thought I would get to see and do! This is definitely something you should go for if you have the chance.”

Loop Abroad Information

Loop Abroad is a student travel organization that began with a singular mission: provide the best hands-on study abroad experience for students pursuing careers working with animals. We’ve done this by partnering with world-renowned conservationists in their efforts to protect endangered animals. While our programs and geography have expanded, we remain committed to global animal welfare.

Why are Loop Abroad and Iowa Wesleyan partnering?

Iowa Wesleyan has long been a pioneer institution in the sciences with a rich history that includes the world renowned astrophysicist and discoverer of the Earth’s radiation belts, Dr. James Van Allen, and the longest-serving astronaut in United States history and the first female commander of the International Space Station, Dr. Peggy Whitson.

Loop Abroad is a pioneer in providing per-professional students study abroad opportunities in locations that allow students to move their academic careers forward.

Together, the two are now partnering to provide a first-rate education abroad.

What is the relationship between Iowa Wesleyan and Loop Abroad?

Iowa Wesleyan University is the School of Record for Loop Abroad. We oversee curriculum and instructors through Higher Learning Commission (HLC) prescribed guidelines. The guidelines can be viewed at the location linked below.

https://www.hlcommission.org/Publications/guidelines-school-of-record.html

BIO 203: SCUBA Diving: Open Water Diving

SCUBA diving provides direct access to observe and study an amazing diversity of marine life up close! This course provides you the basic theory and skills to safely dive up to a depth of 18m meters in a small group under the direct supervision of a certified divemaster.

BIO 204: SCUBA Diving: Advanced Open Water Diving

SCUBA diving provides direct access to observe and study an amazing diversity of marine life up close! This course provides you the advanced theory and skills to safely dive up to a depth of 30m meters in a small group under the direct supervision of a certified divemaster. Your dives will take you on various adventures beyond the limits of your Open Water dive certification. Each dive will require you learn additional theory and show your competence in advanced diving skills.

BIO 205: SCUBA Diving: Open Water and Advanced Open Water Diver

SCUBA diving provides direct access to observe and study an amazing diversity of underwater marine life up close! This course provides you basic and advanced theory and skills to safely dive up to a depth of 30m meters in a small group under the direct supervision of a certified divemaster. After the Open Water diver certification, you will proceed to the Advanced Open Water diver certification by tackling a variety of diving adventures each with their own specific theory and advanced diving skills.

BIO 304: South Africa Zoo Husbandry and Management

This 2-week course takes place at the Lory Park Zoo in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of the few zoos in Africa accredited by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. You will learn how to care for big cats, small cats, cubs, primates, birds, and reptiles in a zoo setting, including proper handling, husbandry, management, and enrichment. You will also learn about zoo involvement in research and community education and assist in these projects, as well as learn from specialists in the conservation and care of specific species, including the black footed cat and vultures.

BIO 305: Conservation of Amazon Wildlife

This 2-week course takes place at the AmaZOOnico wildlife rescue center in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This course will prepare you to understand management and care of Amazon animals in a rehabilitation and release setting, and will prepare you to safely care for and manage companion animals in a surgical clinic setting.

BIO 306: Australian Wildlife Handling, Conservation, and Care

This 2-week course takes place at our Australia project partner site, Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park, a well-established wildlife and educational center 1 hour North of Sydney. The main vision of the center is to play an active role in preserving and increasing populations of rare and endangered Australian animals and plants. Walkabout Park is situated on 170 acres of natural habitat with an 80 acre protected area free of feral predators. The park is home to around 180 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs. Many of these species are on the verge of extinction, but protected from introduced dangers within the park, they are thriving. The course focuses on learning about, enriching, supporting, and caring for the animals at Walkabout Park. The special focus of this course is on handling, maintaining, and caring for wild animals in a zoo or sanctuary setting, with unique opportunities to handle and learn about Australian mammals, reptiles, and birds. Students will also visit the Taronga Zoo to see what enrichments are being used and to meet with a staff veterinarian.

BIO 307: Anatomy, Behavior, and Conservation of African Big Cats

This 2-week course takes place at our South African project partner site, FeraCare Wildlife Centre, a new and growing wildlife and educational center 90 minutes North of Pretoria. The main mission of the center is to ensure the long-term survival of the cheetah species through maintaining a strong genetic pool with the aim to release them into protected areas. FeraCare is situated on more than 2,000 acres and home to 37 cheetahs, 2 lions, and a wide variety of other animals including caracals, African wild cats, and African wild dogs. The course will involve learning about FeraCare’s work, conducting innovative enrichment projects for its animals, and using the center’s site for a relaxed and isolated environment from which to learn about African big cats. Students will also go on an overnight safari through Kruger National Park where they will have an opportunity to meet and ask questions to a local
Kruger veterinarian.

BIO 308: Marine Animal Anatomy, Biology, and Conservation with Lab

This course is an introduction to marine life: corals, invertebrates, cartilaginous and bony fishes, sea turtles, many groups of birds, and marine mammals. Even for those of you who do not intend to work with aquatic species, an understanding of marine life is important to a complete understand of zoological medicine. Approximately 30% of living vertebrate species are marine or marine-associated. Many facilities, from sanctuaries across the globe to conservation efforts to AZA-accredited facilities, serve both aquatic and land animals, so an understanding of marine vertebrates can help prepare you for many career options. In addition, it can reinforce your of non-marine vertebrate behavior and anatomy by comparison and contrast. Koh Tao, which means “Turtle Island,” is home to some of the best diving in the world, with clear waters, coral reefs, and a huge variety of marine vertebrate species. We will be able to observe and study coral reefs and their many inhabitants. We will also be able to learn more about them by seeing them in context of marine ecosystems.

BIO 309: Wildlife Conservation and Care

This course takes place in Thailand at one of Loop Abroad’s partner wildlife and/or zoological organizations. It is part of Loop Abroad’s Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad program. Students will learn and exchange knowledge with veterinarians and caretakers to learn about the specific issues facing captive and wild populations of animals as well as the challenges of managing them in a captive environment. Students will gain an impressive amount of knowledge in comparative anatomy, physiology, and species specific care on a variety of species. Students will also gain and understanding of the  relationships between government, tourism, and wildlife conservation and care in Thailand.

BIO 310: Tropical Conservation and SCUBA Diving

The first part of this course is an introduction to the many animals and ecosystems of Northern Thailand. Students will learn the types of forests and their history, threats, and conservation. Building on their understanding of forest ecology, they will learn about efforts by both the government and non-governmental organizations to protect forests through logging bans, national parks, and accelerated forest recovery techniques. Students will also learn about community perspectives on the forest, including both majority Thai perspectives as well as upland ethnic minority perspectives. The second part of this course is an introduction to coral reef ecology and conservation. Koh Tao, which means “Turtle Island,” is home to some of the best diving in the world, with clear waters, coral reefs, and a huge variety of marine vertebrate species. By the end of the course, students will be able to not only identify some of the marine life commonly found in Thai coral reefs but also complete underwater transects collecting data on these species.

BIO 347: Island Biogeography and Marine Research

The course begins with the volcanic history of the archipelago and how this geological process creates unique opportunities for evolution. You will then learn about the process of island biogeography through specific case studies on San Cristobal: giant tortoises, Galapagos sea lions, and marine iguanas among other endemic organisms on this island and throughout the Galapagos. We will spend time observing each of these species in person. We will also discuss the many taxa that make up marine ecosystems and focus our learning on tropical fish. There are over 500 species of tropical fish found in the waters surrounding San Cristobal! We will learn fish anatomy, behavioral ecology, and thus learn to identify the most common of these fishes. We will then spend significant course time developing, executing, and compiling data from our in-water fish population surveys by snorkeling at several different shores around the island.

BIO 380B: Topics: SCUBA Diving and Marine Conservation

This course is an introduction to SCUBA diving theory and technique as well as coral reef ecology and conservation. Koh Tao, which means “Turtle Island,” is home to some of the best diving in the world, with clear waters, coral reefs, and a huge variety of marine vertebrate species. In this setting, students practice basic techniques of SCUBA diving from preparing equipment and making a dive plan to communicating by underwater hand signals and following safety protocols throughout the dive. By the end of the course, students will show competency in a broad range of basic SCUBA skills and will be able to identify some of the marine life commonly found in Thai coral reefs.

BIO 380D: Topics: Marine Animal Anatomy, Biology, and Conservation with Lab

This course is an introduction to marine life: corals, invertebrates, cartilaginous and bony fishes, sea turtles, many groups of birds, and marine mammals. Even for those of you who do not intend to work with aquatic species, an understanding of marine life is important to a complete understand of zoological medicine. Approximately 30% of living vertebrate species are marine or marine-associated. Many facilities, from sanctuaries across the globe to conservation efforts to AZA-accredited facilities, serve both aquatic and land animals, so an understanding of marine vertebrates can help prepare you for many career options. In addition, it can reinforce your understanding of non-marine vertebrate behavior and anatomy by comparison and contrast. Koh Tao, which means “Turtle Island,” is home to some of the best diving in the world, with clear waters, coral reefs, and a huge variety of marine vertebrate species. We will be able to observe and study coral reefs and their many inhabitants. We will also be able to learn more about them by seeing them in context of marine ecosystems.

BIO 380W: Topics: Wildlife Conservation and Care

This course takes place in Thailand at one of Loop Abroad’s partner wildlife and/or zoological organizations. It is part of Loop Abroad’s Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad program. Students will learn and exchange knowledge with veterinarians and caretakers to learn about the specific issues facing captive and wild populations of animals as well as the challenges of managing them in a captive environment. Students will gain an impressive amount of knowledge in comparative anatomy, physiology, and species specific care on a variety of species. Students will also gain and understanding of the relationships between government, tourism, and wildlife conservation and care in Thailand.

BIO 398: Veterinary Clinical Practice and Skills

This course will give you practical experience in a fully operational Thai small animal clinic. You will observe many of the husbandry, diagnostic, and treatment techniques you learned in previous coursework. When appropriate, the supervising veterinarians may also ask for your assistance depending on your experience and abilities. Much of what you witness in a Thai clinic will be comparable to a US clinic. However, you will also have the opportunity to see how husbandry, diagnostics, and treatment techniques are adapted to the unique health challenges in Thailand as well as the budget constraints of the owners who visit the clinic. You will primarily experience domestic canine and feline patients however clinics do accept other animal patients on occasion. You will encounter a variety of conditions and needs, which will help build examination, diagnostic, and research skills. Students are
expected to observe and support veterinarians and assist only according to the veterinarian’s judgment of patient condition and the student experience level.

BIO 400: Companion Animal Management

This course will prepare you to manage cats and dogs throughout your semester in Thailand and throughout your academic and professional career. It is important that you learn to safely manage these animals before interacting with them in a surgical or clinical setting.

BIO 401: Elephant Management and Medicine

This course focuses on variation in elephant management systems and practices and the medical management challenges elephants present in the clinical setting on site at an elephant facility. Throughout this course you have the chance to observe and practice elephant medicine and management in action. The block will focus on common and important diseases and medical conditions of elephants as well as conservation concerns of their species. You will study elephant anatomy, behavior, care, and their position in Thai global society. During this course, you will shadow and assist elephant veterinarians, trainers, and caretakers, and interact first-hand with the elephants.

BIO 402: Tropical Shelter Medicine, Management and Welfare: From Companion Animals to Elephants

This 2-week course takes place at two of our Thai project partners, one week focusing on small animal medicine and management and one week focusing on elephant welfare and care. The course will prepare you to safely care for and manage companion animals in a shelter, surgical, and clinical setting and elephants in a rescue or sanctuary setting.

BIO 403: Elephant Husbandry and Health Care

This course focuses on the complexities of the Asian elephant tourist industry in range countries. Throughout the course, you will shadow veterinarians and elephant caretakers to improved welfare conditions for captive elephants. You will have the opportunity to observe and practice elephant medicine, management, and husbandry in action.

BIO 406: Veterinary Surgical Nursing

This course takes place off site as we run a 4-day, high volume, spay/neuter clinic from start to finish. The setting will allow for a lot of hands on practice and observation and will expose you to the skills and concepts of working as a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant in a surgical setting.

BIO 407: Australia Zoo Husbandry and Management

This course takes place in the veterinary clinic at the Taronga Zoo Sydney in Sydney, Australia. Students will learn about zoo safety, animal nutrition, keeper skills, enrichment and behavior, and pathology from the zoo staff while shadowing and assisting in their daily activities.

BIO 440: Career Applications: Companion Animal Management

This course will prepare you to manage cats and dogs throughout your semester in Thailand and throughout your academic and professional career. It is important that you learn to safely manage these animals before interacting with them in a surgical or clinical setting.

BIO 441E: Career Applications: Elephant Management and Medicine

This course focuses on variation in elephant management systems and practices and the medical management challenges elephants present in the clinical setting on site at an elephant facility. Throughout this course you have the chance to observe and practice elephant medicine
and management in action. The block will focus on common and important diseases and medical conditions of elephants as well as conservation concerns of their species. You will study elephant anatomy, behavior, care, and their position in Thai global society. During this course, you will shadow and assist elephant veterinarians, trainers, and caretakers, and interact first-hand with the elephants.

BIO 497: Veterinary Surgical Nursing

This course takes place off site as we run a 4-day, high volume, spay/neuter clinic from start to finish. The setting will allow for a lot of hands on practice and observation and will expose you to the skills and concepts of working as a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant in a surgical setting.

IS 101TH: Thailand Life and Culture

This course is your introduction and orientation to Thailand – its culture, language, history. We will also be training you in practical skills for navigating the culture both during courses and on your free time. We want you to get the most out of your semester here! During this course, we’re going to make sure you’re exposed to Thai culture in a variety of ways, learn Thai conversation basics, become oriented to the city of Chiang Mai, and get to know your
cohort in a meaningful way. This week will include hands-on cultural activities and conversational learning with a foundation in readings about culture shock, cross-cultural learning, and Thai culture and history.

CELA:

BI0 325: Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation

Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation is an intensive, experiential coral reef ecology course that covers a ten-day timeframe and includes classroom, field and laboratory components. The focus is to learn the key biotic and abiotic components of a coral reef system and how they interact. Students will come to understand the worldwide importance of coral reefs as well as their “canary in a coal mine status”. The course explores the current state of the Belize Barrier Reef east of Ambergris Caye and south to Caye Caulker. The biological and ecological history of this reef system will be used to inform attempts to predict its future under varied management strategies. Our local findings will be theoretically applied to all coral reef systems. We will also explore anthropogenic activities that have positive and negative impacts on these ecosystems in general. Lectures will encompass uninformed human activities locally and globally that can be addressed to achieve a more positive outcome for coral reefs. The effectiveness of social media tools to raise awareness and change behavior will be discussed. Students will leave this program armed with the knowledge, drive and inspiration to contribute to global change from any corner of the earth. They will also have a firm grounding that will help them continue on in this field, if they so wish. The NAOA blog for coral reef scientists (Coral-list) will be used for discussions of current issues and display methods of interacting with leading researchers.

BIO 326: Large Animal Veterinary Practice in the Tropics

This course offers exciting field opportunities in Belize, a country known for its animal diversity and ecological progressiveness. Students will have the opportunity to learn hands-on veterinary examination techniques at working ranches and farms (horse, sheep, cattle and pigs) as well as learn about animal agriculture in Belize, including analyzing laboratory specimens in a laboratory. This course is designed for the veterinary, pre-veterinary, animal science or zoology students to gain working knowledge of the husbandry, and health issues confronting farm animals such as horses, sheep, pigs and cattle (beef and dairy) in Belize. The course is introductory but intense with laxity intentionally built into the schedule to accommodate individual interests of the students taking the course. Classroom sessions on anatomy, physiology and pathology lay the foundation of knowledge needed to confront animal husbandry and disease issues. The majority of the student’s time will be spent in fieldwork involving such areas as a working horse ranch and breeding facility; a working sheep farm focusing on genetic breeding; and cattle (dairy and beef) and pig farms. Each of the field experiences will provide students with general husbandry (shelter, nutrition, and waste management) knowledge of large farm animals. Additionally, basic veterinary care such as physical examination and basic suture technique will be taught and more advanced veterinary care such as preventive medicine, reproductive management, medicine and surgery will be observed. The field experiences will provide students with hands-on experience and problem-solving skills that will assist them while developing careers related to animal health.

BIO 327: Wildlife Health, Ecology and Conservation

This 10-day course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in wildlife from a pre-vet, biology or conservation perspective. Through a combination of classroom lectures, field trips and activities, students will be introduced to tropical ecology, local conservation efforts, Belizean wildlife and wildlife research techniques, and zoo and wild animal health issues and medicine. This intensive, introductory course will help students understand the many factors that affect the management, conservation, habitat and health of wild animals. Students will be based at the Tropical Education Center, located at Mile 29 on the George Price Highway, across the road from the Belize Zoo. There they will have the opportunity to work alongside zookeepers in the world-renowned Belize Zoo. The central focus of the course is on wildlife health, conservation and research methods. The DVM course instructor will guide students in the understanding of the anatomy, health and captivity issues of select wildlife species. The course will travel to several locations to experience field research conditions. Students will gain insight on several field research techniques including specialized snare traps, cage traps, GPS and VHF tracking, camera trapping, chemical immobilization and remote drug delivery, avian mist netting, bird banding, and nest searching and monitoring. Students will also get the opportunity to observe and collect data on captive and wild animals and observe wildlife veterinary situations, as appropriate and when available.

BIO 328: Primate Ecology and Conservation: An Introduction to Field Research

This 10-day course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in primates from biology or conservation perspective. Students will stay in basic homestays with families in the village of Bermudian Landing, one of seven villages making up the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS). CBS has set the standard for community-based conservation (Bruner 1993, Horwich 2011). Over 200 landowners have pledged to project that habitat of the local howler monkey population. The black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) is classified as endangered by the IUCN (WWF 1997). Several groups of monkeys were continuously studied from 1985-1999, and censuses at CBS showed steady population growth (Howich et al. 2001). This course is an introduction to primate ecology and conservation, field work and data collection, focusing on behavioral data collection as well as population counts and a health
assessment. Specific topics include methods for the study of primate behavior, history of primate behavior research, socio-ecology, foraging, predation, affiliation, aggression, communication, and conservation. Because most primate species are listed as threatened or endangered, the course will also examine the threats to primate survival and strategies for their conservation. Students will be trained in various methods of collecting behavioral, physical and ecological data, and will practice those methods during fieldwork. Students will learn methods for estimating primate populations through survey procedures, including line transects. Methods of collecting behavioral data will include the following: scan sampling, focal animal sampling, and ad lib sampling. Students will also learn various methods for collecting ecological data, including vegetation plots and phenology measures.

BIO 329: One Health: The Human, Animal and Environment Interface

This course explores the intersections of health, human medicine, veterinary medicine, environment and social development in the Tropics, with Belize as the focus using a One Health approach. It is a survey of fundamental topics and concepts connecting human, animal and environmental health. Emphasis is placed emerging zoonotic infectious diseases, food safety (with an emphasis on foods with an animal origin) and environmental health, including climate
change and health aspects of the human -animal bond. Using Belize as a case study, the course will explore integrated approaches to a number of health issues at the human-animal-environment interface. Lectures, readings from primary literature, field-based learning and group discussion are also integral components of the program and provide the conceptual framework for discussion, analysis, and interpreting field observations and findings.

We’re happy to help! Call us at 319 385 6391 or email the Iowa Wesleyan Registrar at [email protected]