Job Available Now: Elephant Veterinarian in Laos

This is a guest post by Karla Nova, an uncommon veterinarian from the Dominican Republic who has found her way into a ton of really cool experiences. I’m hoping to also get her to write up her externships with SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo! You can read all about her current adventures working in Laos at her blog: Land of Elephants.

elephant-hydrotherapy-veterinarianI was studying for my boards last September when I realized how unsatisfied I was with how I was spending my time. I had been studying for weeks and felt like my life was passing by and that I was not enjoying it to its fullest.

I want to get involved in something meaningful, I told myself.

And guess what? I did.

I came upon a job post online from a French NGO called ElefantAsia that provides free veterinary care to domesticated elephants in Laos. They had just built a hospital and were looking for a volunteer veterinarian to assist the vet team and provide care to the inpatients.

What an opportunity, I thought. Gain real hands-on veterinary experience working with elephants in an exotic country in Southeast Asia?


I applied right away! A month later I was on my way to a country totally unknown to me, with a totally different culture, beliefs, and a language I could not understand…. FUN!

From small animals to elephants, from the Dominican Republic to Laos; I have no boundaries when it comes to saving lives. I got here last November and although my volunteer work is not over I have learned a great deal of wildlife medicine.

Karla-Nova-bathing-young-elephantHaving the opportunity of working closely with these noble giants is just indescribable.  I’ve been involved in research, gained real veterinary hands-on experience, attended to emergency calls, practiced standing sedation, gone on weeks-long missions, and provided care to the elephants at the center, including mothers and their babies!

My adventure here has been a once in a lifetime experience, not just professionally speaking but culturally, personally and spiritually as well. I have learned so much from both the people and the elephants! Unfortunately, my time here is coming to an end and we’re looking for an adventurous volunteer veterinarian to replace me.  The job description is below. If you are interested or have any inquiries feel free to write to the email address included in this post.


Job Description

ElefantAsia is a registered non-profit NGO working to provide veterinary care to domestic Asian Elephants across Lao PDR. We run ambulatory field missions in our specially equipped 4×4 ‘Jumbo Ambulances’ as well as respond to emergency calls from Mahouts. Additionally we’ve recently opened the only Elephant Hospital in Laos and frequently transport critically ill animals here for intensive or long term treatment. All treatment and training is provided free of charge and often entails travel for extended periods into remote and undeveloped areas of an already remote and undeveloped country.


hands-on-elephant-treatment-Laos Who: Graduate Veterinarian with at least 1-year of clinical experience

Duration: 3 – 6 months

Commencing: ASAP

Salary: Voluntary

Role: To assist and provide support to the current international head veterinarian. To manage the day-to-day running of the Elephant Hospital and provided veterinary care to any inpatients. Provide technical expertise and supervision through both practical and didactic teaching to the Lao staff.

Description: The majority of your time will be spent at the Elephant Hospital dealing with inpatients and the resident adult and juvenile elephants, including prophylactic and routine veterinary care. Depending on the individual it may be possible to participate in emergency and routine missions around the country. Some time may also be spent at our office in the capital Vientiane when working on research projects and proposals.

Details: Food and Accommodation while at the Elephant Conservation Center will be provided. We will also cover visa costs while here.

Applicants: The ideal applicant will be flexible with suddenly changing situations, happy to work independently where required and excited to experience a vastly different culture.

Please send your covering letter and CV to Mr William Thomas BVSc MRCVS at

Elliott here again: So do we have any takers? Clearly this is a unique opportunity to get some hands-on experience working with elephants that is not often available anywhere in the world. I know Karla has consulted on some cases with zoo vets she’s gotten to know in the States, so this would also provide for some interesting networking opportunities.

Anyone up for an adventure in Laos?

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3 Responses to “Job Available Now: Elephant Veterinarian in Laos”

  1. Anna March 5, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Hey Elliot! Wow, was trawling websites looking for something to take me out of my comfort zone, been in equine practice for five years, went straight from school to university and then an inteernship, so never stopped to travel or explore the world available to us as veterinarians. Came across the elephantasia job on another website and jumped at the chance, sent an email straight away but still no reply, not sure if they have found someone yet. Thanks for reminding us all why we were born to be vets!

  2. Katey February 18, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    I’m about to graduate high school in Indiana and I want to become a veterinarian who specializes in elephants. If you have any tips as to what colleges to apply to, what majors to select, anything would be helpful. Please let me know!! Thank you!

  3. Jenn August 7, 2014 at 11:31 am #


    I’m just entering my clinical years of vet school and am hoping to move into wildlife medicine once I graduate (in three years time). I have experience with smaller wildlife and some birds but would like to expand on this. Do you have any recommendations for clinical placements (anywhere in the world) where I can gain experience before I graduate? Thank you.

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