Veterinary Student Program
ARCAS Rescue Center in Petén
2 weeks of veterinary experience.
- Reservation at the Rescue Center
- Flores Mundo Maya International Airport pickup and drop-off
- All meals at rescue center and lodging included
- Two day overnight trip to Tikal Mayan Temples (four meals, guided tour, one night in hotel inside national park, transportation. Does NOT include park entrance fee)
- 6 hours of lecture time (Primates, Psittacines, Reptiles)
- 5 hours of necropsy review (documented past cases or present cases)
- Capture and management of Primates, Psittacines and Reptiles.
- Obtention of blood samples and processing of fecals of Primates, Psittacines and reptiles.
- Participation in necropsies and administration of treatments (surgery assistance and type of treatment depending on cases)
- Routine work with the animals and enclosures (Cleaning, feeding, maintenance)
GoalsEducation, participation, outreach, develop clinical abilities, generate interest in new fields, field laboratory procedures, kennel care and complete care of animals.
Lecture time includes: Anatomy, capture techniques, transport, neonatal care, feeding, physiology, zoonoses, anesthesia.
Necropsy reviews: 5 hours of case discussion (current and past cases).
Practice: Safe capture and handling of species, dose calculation, injection sites (SQ, IM, IV), tele-injection (when needed), use of flotation equipment, microhematocrit, inhaled anesthesia (when needed), usage of capture equipment.
Surgeries and treatments: CASE DEPENDENT, topical, oral or injected, assisting in surgery if cases arise.
Routine work: Cleaning and feeding, kennel care and general maintenance of the animal maintenance areas.
Equipment available onsite: Film Xray, ultrasound, hematology and blood chemistry analyzer, inhaled anesthesia, POX, electrical scalpel, endoscope, mini lab (microscopes, centrifuges, ovadector).
To be Considered
- Open enrollement courses have a minimum of 6 students and maximum of 12, sign up closes 6 weeks prior to starting date
- CASE DEPENDENT means that there is no guarantee of type of treatments, since we are a rescue and rehabilitation center, it varies from day to day and emergencies do occur, which will also help in training for students in decision making.
- Participants should be fluent in english and/or spanish (it is recommended to be bilingual but not mandatory).
- Participants should have medical insurance up to date.
- Up to date vaccinations for rabies, tetanus, hepatitis. (Although we have not had a single case of any of these diseases, they are zoonoses, so it’s recommended to have them; consult with your local physician on other precautions)
- We are a low risk Malaria area, and mid risk Dengue area.
- If you have 6 or more colleagues that want to come together, or want to do a clinical placement for fourth year, contact us for a tailored dates program.
I volunteered at ARCAS for two weeks in summer 2014 and I have to admit that it was the highlight of my year. I took part in the veterinary programme which provided me with excellent experience to take back to university. ARCAS veterinarians Fernando and Alejandro taught us so much about conservation and animal care of exotic species. They provided us with small group lectures, teaching us about monkeys, parrots and crocodiles before allowing us to handle these species under supervision.
I would highly recommend the veterinary programme as it really does enhance your knowledge and teaches you a lot of new things - I've barely even scrapped the surface here. Knowledge aside, not everyone can say that they have taken a blood draw from a crocodile or dewormed a spider monkey in the rain forest.
Outside of veterinary specific activities, we helped out with the other volunteers looking after cages, preparing food. You also get a fair amount of free time in the afternoons to visit Flores, chill in a hammock or even swim in the lake. All the volunteers and staff were friendly and always happy to see you, they make you feel as though you've been part of the team for months and it really didn't matter that I couldn't speak a word of Spanish.
If you want a new experience and want to have a chance to make a difference to wildlife conservation then definitely go to ARCAS.
My time at ARCAS was absolutely incredible. I participated in the veterinary medicine course under Dr. Morales and Dr. Martinez and learned more in 6 weeks about veterinary medicine than I had in 4 years. They are awesome!! And brilliant and funny and inspiring. Anna is an absolute angel. Honestly, the people, the staff, the culture, the experience, everything is awesome. I can't wait to go back!
I was very fortunate to participate in the Veterinary Student Program at ARCAS in February 2016. The program provided a really amazing window into the world of wildlife medicine and conservation in Central America.
We covered a large amount of material in a short period of time, including general husbandry, capture techniques (crocodiles and kinkajous were a highlight!), safe transport, anesthesia (including learning how to properly use dart guns), neonatal care, zoonotic disease, and necropsy. Alejandro and Fernando were very kind about allowing the veterinary students to participate in all of the medical procedures, while still being very respectful about balancing safety and the needs of the animals. Though days were generally planned in advance with powerpoint lectures and training activities, there was always room for flexibility depending upon the needs of the animals and the center.
A typical day would start at 6:30 with cage cleaning and the feeding of your assigned animals After breakfast veterinary students would join Alejandro for a powerpoint lecture or training and medical procedures. After lunch, animals would be fed again and then veterinary students would participate in additional procedures or discussions. Days typically wound down around 3 or 4 o'clock, and students were given the remainder of the day to rest, participate in activities around the center or take trips to Flores for internet/snacks (a short boat ride away from ARCAS). No two days were the same and Alejandro always welcomed questions and concerns.
The living quarters were comfortable and felt safe. (*Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper as the walls are very thin and the Howler Monkeys often give concerts in the middle of the night). Mealtimes were communal and provided a great opportunity to get to know travelers from all around the world. Anna (the volunteer coordinator) was extremely kind, and very supportive of the volunteers. She knows the facility like the back of her hand and was always very helpful and able to answer questions about life at ARCAS or the needs of the animals.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend participating in the ARCAS veterinary student program! I learned an incredible amount in a short time period and afterwards, felt very inspired to find my career path in wildlife medicine
After graduating from the Veterinary Technician course in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, I dreamed of learning and working more with exotic wild life. ARCAS Vet Program in Peten fulfilled more than I could have dream of.
Arriving to the breathtaking but humid jungle took a bit of acclimatizing, but every ounce of sweat was worth it. In this course I learned proper and safe handling, wildlife medicine techniques, adequate nutrition, enclosure requirements and rehabilitation stages and much more of the multiple indigenous animals to northern Guatemala and surrounding areas. Learning these techniques and working alongside the veterinarians of ARCAS was a priceless experience.
Between the passion, the knowledge and the experience of these veterinarians, I was flooded with excellent information and education. The hands on experience was phenomenal and more then I could have asked for. I really feel that the veterinarians of ARCAS have a massive amount of knowledge to share and spread. The research and time they have spent working with these animals did not go unnoticed. They are changing the world, making a difference one animal at a time. It's a beautiful thing!
To be a part of such an amazing wildlife rehabilitation center was so fulfilling.
The team there all work so hard and are all so passionate. This is a place I plan to revisit and volunteer again in the near future. ARCAS as a whole will forever hold a special spot in my heart.