Nursing baby elephants and feeding cheetahs may not be typical volunteer duties, but that is exactly what a UBC Okanagan student spent her summer doing.
Brooke Bailey, a fourth-year bachelor of science student, spent two months volunteering in Africa with the help of the university’s International Education Travel Subsidy.
“I just needed a means, and the university had a travel subsidy and so I applied for it,” said Bailey.
The financial support provided Bailey, 22, with an opportunity to volunteer abroad and work with veterinarians to take care of different animals, something she said she had always wanted to do.
“Working with vets and wildlife, it’s in my blood,” said Bailey.
Through a volunteer group that Bailey chose called Edge of Africa, she decided on how she would spend her two months there.
She spent her first month at an elephant sanctuary in Knysna, a town situated in the Garden Route area of South Africa.
The second half of her volunteering took place at the Garden Route Game Lodge where she learned how to treat a dart gun and how to immobilize animals.
One of her tasks was to track cheetahs that were being rehabilitated back into the wild.
“Some days you’d be walking through the grass and, all of a sudden, the cheetahs come up and they’d get a little too close,” said Bailey. “They’ll come within three feet of your legs and pounce and hiss at you.”
Other close encounters included dealing with a much larger animal.
“We darted a giraffe one day,” said Bailey. “You’re holding a giraffe’s head down and you’re monitoring the breathing and there’s lots going on and it’s an awesome experience.”
The subsidy, whose goals are to help students become “global citizens,” gave Bailey the opportunity to work alongside vets to treat a wide range of different animals.
Through UBC Okanagan’s program, Bailey was able to spend her summer in Africa, something that she said she would do “in a heartbeat” if the opportunity came up again.
“It’s an awesome experience, and you get a cultural experience and you get an African experience,” said Bailey. “Travelling is a whole new form of education I think.”