RSU Student Volunteers with Rescued Elephants in Thailand

Layna feeding an elephant.

RSU senior Layna Tarpalechee pets an elephant at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Loop Abroad.

A Rogers State University biology student recently learned what it takes to be a veterinarian while caring for rescued animals in Thailand.

Layna Tarpalechee, a 21-year-old biology – medical/molecular senior from Glenpool, spent two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, volunteering at both a dog rescue and an elephant sanctuary as part of a College Veterinary Service program.

The program was offered through Loop Abroad, a summer abroad program for high school and college students who love animals.

Layna petting an elephant.

Layna Tarpalechee feeds an elephant during a two-week veterinary program through Loop Abroad. Photo by Loop Abroad.

“This has taught me much about myself and my future,” Tarpalechee said. “I can’t wait to use the knowledge I gained to further myself in life and my career.”

The program brings students to Thailand for two weeks to volunteer alongside a staff veterinarian. For the first week, students volunteer at the Animal Rescue Kingdom Dog Shelter.

Students spend the second week at the Elephant Nature Park learning about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale.

Layna holding up the peace sign with elephants behind her.

Rogers State University senior Layna Tarpalechee poses with elephants she helped care for at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Loop Abroad.

While volunteering at the dog shelter, Tarpalechee helped provide routine veterinary services such as check-ups and cleanings, diagnosis and treatment of ear and eye problems, taking and testing blood, administering vaccines, cleaning and treating wounds, and assisting with sterilization surgeries.

At the elephant sanctuary, she fed, bathed and cared for rescued elephants while learning about their diagnoses alongside an elephant veterinarian.

The dog shelter is home to more than 100 dogs who have been rescued after being abandoned, beaten or abused. Dogs who are not adopted are cared for by the shelter for the rest of their lives.

The elephant sanctuary is home to more than 40 elephants who have been rescued from trekking, logging or forced breeding programs. Many of the elephants experienced abuse and chronic injuries before being rescued.

For more information about Loop Abroad, visit