Overseas Volunteer Experience Stories

Rhiannon Ferriday

Rhiannon Ferriday
Rhiannon conducting physiotherapy on Brigette, the northern tamandua who has two paralyzed back legs

Hello, my name is Rhiannon and I am from California. As an aspiring veterinarian, I applied for the veterinary and orphan care internship position at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary with the intent of learning as much as I can about Costa Rican wildlife and conservation medicine. In my first few weeks as an intern, I have already learned and experienced so much more than I could have ever asked for. Dr. Sandy QuirĂ³s Beita and the on-site veterinary assistant, Rebeca, are very knowledgeable and it is inspiring to work alongside a staff that is so passionate about wildlife. Each day, I assist with the day-to-day treatments for animals in the clinic, feed the animals in the nursery, rehabilitation, and quarantine areas, and perform regular cleaning and animal enrichment. When a new case comes in, I help with the initial exam and procedures such as administering anesthesia, taking radiographs, and giving medications. Upon my arrival, I was also given several options for a project to work on during my stay. From these options, I chose to work with a disabled anteater who is unable to use her hind legs. Using range of motion exercises, heat therapy, and hydrotherapy, my goal is to help improve her mobility.

I absolutely love being able to work so closely with so many different animals and I could not be more grateful for this experience. Even though COVID-19 has affected most of the scheduled group trips and all of the national parks and beaches are closed, being able to help during such an uncertain time fills my heart with purpose and joy. The animals are magnificent, the staff is incredible, the experience is unparalleled, and being able to see wild animals heal and be released back into their natural environments is the best feeling in the world.