India - Applied Animal Biology Practicum, UBC Animal Welfare Program

APBI 496 | 6 Credits

About the program

About the course

This course is supervised by UBC adjunct faculty Sara Dubois and the first international offering of Animal Biology Practicum (APBI 496) which has successfully placed students in hands-on learning experiences since 2014.

For one month, undergraduate students from the University of British Columbia will participate in an experiential learning practicum to gain experience working with wild animals rescued from illegal captivity, human exploitation and human wildlife conflict. The six credit course takes place in the rural communities surrounding Agra and Mathura, India, at Wildlife SOS sanctuary locations.

Students will apply knowledge from previous coursework to gain practical skills in this placement, which will assist toward informing careers in wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary medicine, wildlife conservation, conservation project management, human wildlife conflict mitigation, animal behaviour and welfare, geography, resource management, environmental studies, and global studies.

In this course, students will experience local culture and participate in general animal husbandry and facility operations, animal health and welfare management, and learn from professionals and collaboration with other students and sanctuary volunteers. The 6 credit practicum is graded based on the 4 weeks of experience plus a half-term progress report, 5,000 word final report and an applied communications piece such as a poster, brochure, video, webpage, manual etc. that can be used by Wildlife SOS.

About the experience

Wildlife SOS, a non-profit conservation organization established in 1995 by founders Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani with a vision to make lasting change to protect and conserve India's biodiversity, wildlife wealth, natural heritage and forests by working in partnership with indigenous communities and Governments. The organization has today, evolved into the largest wildlife conservation organization in South Asia with nearly 50 conservation, research, livelihood, women empowerment and conflict mitigation projects across India aimed at protecting and conserving wildlife, habitat conservation, biodiversity research, developing alternative and sustainable livelihoods for poacher communities.

The practicum work involved is very physical and students will need to be in excellent health plus have numerous vaccines before departure. Activities include general animal husbandry (food prep, feeding, cleaning) and facility operations (cleaning, maintenance); animal health and welfare management (enrichment, behaviour monitoring, supporting caretakers and vets); learning from professionals and collaboration with other practicum students and volunteers; interacting with the public and Wildlife SOS staff in various departments. Direct physical contact with sanctuary wild animals is very limited for personal safety reasons.

Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF), Agra, Uttar Pradesh

The sloth bears have access to large socialization enclosures where the behaviour and personality of each bear is closely monitored by the Wildlife SOS team of veterinary doctors, animal caretakers and biologists. Based on each bear’s personality, he/she is matched to a compatible group and then moved to a larger free-range area. Wildlife SOS has full-time wildlife veterinary officers, wildlife biologists and a dedicated team of bear keepers to care for the rescued bears. The bear hospital is equipped with a laboratory in addition to essential equipment like digital x-ray, ultrasound, dental suite, operation theater and other equipment needed to meet any bear care need that may arise. A special cub weaning area of the bear sanctuary is dedicated to foster baby bears rescued from poachers as the cubs require a lot of careful attention during the early months.

Elephant Conservation & Care Centre (ECCC), Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

The Elephant Conservation and Care Centre is focused on rescue and rehabilitation of elephants in distress. The long-term vision of this center is to bring an end to the poaching of elephant calves from the wild to fuel the captive elephant industry in India that depends on irresponsible tourism. To achieve this, Wildlife SOS has adopted multiple strategies to educate tourists and travel operators about responsible tourism, offer conservation educational tours at ECCC to sensitize and educate volunteers and assist law enforcement authorities to implement the law. Every elephant housed at the ECCC has a unique story and past of the situation they’ve had to be rescued from by Wildlife SOS. Here, several elephants that have been poached, exploited by unscrupulous people commercially for profit and abused are under rehabilitation and recuperation, living out their retirement years in peace and safety. No longer forced to bear heavy loads, or walk on hot pavement, these majestic creatures are finally able to spend their days happily, with frequent baths, a nutritious diet, and veterinary care of international standards.

The Elephant Conservation and Care Center currently houses more than 20 elephants. The center is full of natural vegetation with open fields around for their daily walks and several trees available to scratch themselves, thus making it closest to the natural habitat of the elephants. Free access to pools are provided to elephants for them to bath and play in the water, at will. A 5 min drive away is the new Elephant Hospital equipped with the latest in veterinary technology and provides additional enclosure facilities, access to the river and “Field of Dreams” was recently opened and will increase elephant capacity at this site.


Volunteer Housing Unit

  • 15 mins drive from Agra Bear Rescue Facility; all students and volunteers will be picked up and dropped off from this location daily (Mon-Sat working days, Sun off)

  • Located inside a gated community with 24 hour security, three guest houses with 13 separate bedrooms and one dormitory; staff on-site 24 hours

  • WIFI enabled, water purifier system for drinking water, power backup, access to common lawns, dining halls, kitchens and roof top area, shared laundry facilities with one washing machine

  • Each room has ceiling fan, air cooler, hot water shower, western toilet, electric points for charging devices. Rooms are shared - some have 2-3 person capacity, others sleep 4 persons in bunks, dormitory sleeps 5-6

  • Two chefs who provide basic vegetarian breakfast & hot cooked dinner, hot cooked vegetarian lunch in the field at ECCC or ABRF

  • As there are no local stores nearby, all medical, personal health, and specialty nutritional requirements must be packed for entire month stay

  • Toilets are all western and shower facilities with hot water is available. Electricity supply can be erratic in summer months but solar and power backup systems (battery & generator) are there for emergency use.

Eligibility requirements

General Global Seminar requirements

  • You must have at least a 70% average in your most recent Winter Session of full-time studies prior to application
  • You need to be a UBC student in good standing (e.g. not be under academic or non-academic discipline) to participate in a Global Seminar
  • You should have full-time student status (as defined by your faculty) in the year prior to your Global Seminar
  • You must maintain 70% average prior to your Global Seminar departure
  • You must have completed or intend to complete the necessary (or equivalent) pre-requisite courses prior to Global Seminar start date
  • Unclassified students will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • You will need to be accepted by the Program Director leading the Global Seminar

Program-specific requirements

This program is suitable as a restricted-elective for students in third year and above in the Faculty of Land & Food Systems or may be taken by any upper level or graduate students in other Faculties. The international hands-on practicum may be of most interest to:

  • Science: Biology, Zoology, Environmental Studies majors
  • Arts: Geography, Public Policy & Global Affairs majors
  • Forestry
  • Applied Biology 314 or 315 would be an asset

Prior to taking part in this program, students should have completed coursework in a relevant discipline and have a record of strong academic performance. Prior international travel or animal-related experience also beneficial.

General timelines

The program will run for one month during the 2020 fall or winter term—dates dependent on location and student availability. Prior to your time in India, you will be required to attend pre-departure sessions in Vancouver.  

Application deadline

January 18, 2021

How to apply

Applications will not be reviewed until all materials are on file. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required application materials have been received by the academic supervisor Dr. Sara Dubois.

Please email your completed application form, resume and three reference letters: one of which must be a UBC faculty member and second must be a professional reference; third can be another UBC representative (TA, mentor) or personal reference to sara.dubois@ubc.ca

Program fees and costs

The program fee is $3215 and includes Wildlife SOS accommodation, food and local travel.

Students are also responsible for tuition, flights to/from Delhi, insurance, visa, vaccines, medications (e.g. malarial pills) plus additional incidentals.

All qualifying students will receive a $1,000 Go Global Award.

Global Seminars refund policy

Adjustment on deposits

Students are eligible for an adjustment of their deposit under the following circumstances:

  • Withdrawal after you accept your spot in the program
    You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $93.25 (ie: you receive a $656.75 credit)
  • Withdrawal after deposit posted on SSC
    You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $321.75 (ie: you receive a $428.25 credit)
  • Withdrawal after deposit due date
    The deposit and all remaining program fees are completely non-refundable. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. 

Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Students who decide to withdraw their application must submit a request in writing by email to the Global Seminar Advisor at go.global@ubc.ca.


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:

Pre-departure policy

Safety abroad

UBC is committed to preparing students for safe and successful international experiences. In order to achieve this, any student participating in a Go Global Program must complete the following:

  • All UBC Student Safety Abroad requirements
  • Go Global Program-specific pre-departure requirements (includes both online and in-person components)

Failure to successfully complete these and any other requirements may result in withdrawal from the Go Global Program.


Global Seminars Advisor

Student Advising

Drop in advising - Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00-3:00pm

Please email go.global@ubc.ca with your student number in the subject line.

Global Seminars Advisor


Telephone: 604 822 0942

Fax: 604 822 9885

UBC Life Building
6138 Student Union Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


9:00 am - 4:15 pm
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9:00 am - 4:15 pm
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
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