University of South Florida


USF Student Earns a Big Opportunity Working with Big Cats

USF Junior, Hunter Gaias, performs a routine medical examination on a Cheetah at Feracare Wildlife Center in South Africa..

USF junior, Hunter Gaias, performs a routine medical examination on a Cheetah at Feracare Wildlife Center in South Africa.

University of South Florida Junior, Hunter Gaias, has always had a passion for animals. Her love for dogs and cats has not only led to a part-time assistant vet position at a local animal hospital but has also driven her towards pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. This summer, the Integrative Animal Biology major, earned the opportunity of a lifetime, as a summer internship landed her in South Africa where her patients were a bit larger than usual.

Hunter Gaias with an ostrich in South Africa

Through an internship with Loop Abroad, Gaias spent two weeks at Feracare Wildlife Center working with Cheetahs among other endangered African species. Learning from a number of veterinarians and animal experts, Gaias, along with her fellow interns, worked closely with the large spotted cats, performing genetic testing and assisting in routine medical examinations.

 “You don’t truly know the beauty of a species until you work every day to help bring them out of endangerment,” said Gaias. “’I’ll be able to take what I learned in South Africa and apply it to my classes here at USF.”    

 While the experience was something she will never forget, Gaias says her passion is working with small more domesticated animals. Once she earns her degree at USF, she plans to continue her education as she works toward becoming a veterinarian.  

 The University of South Florida values experiential learning as a key component to a student's undergraduate and career success. Experiential learning helps students to become "career-ready" by developing the critical transferable skills that prospective employers seek in candidates across industries. To learn more about internship opportunities available through the University of South Florida, please visit the career services website.

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