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Internship | Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Internship in the Cook Islands


Location: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Duration: Minimum 2 weeks, maximum 6 months

Start Dates: Project is on-going, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability

Cost: $650 / £520 for 2 - 6 weeks participation - see 'Costs' tab for further details


  • Work alongside seasoned veterinarians and support staff to treat the islands' animal populations.
  • Flexible placement, tailored according to your interests and abilities.
  • Ideal for veterinary professionals and students.
  • Serious veterinary internship placement with opportunities for dissertation research.

The organisation in which you will work is dedicated to solving the problem of stray dogs, whilst providing a free veterinary clinic to the residents of the Cook Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Since dogs have been introduced to the region, their populations have grown out of control on many of the larger islands. The incumbent strategy to cull their numbers has so far been for the police to shoot stray dogs on-sight. However, you will be part of an alternative solution to spay and neuter as many strays as you can find. Also, you will help provide a free veterinary clinic for residents of the island, offering care to their pets and other domesticated animals.

The project has now been running for 19 years, and is the only veterinary care currently offered in the archipelago. Achievements so far have included treatment of over 39,000 animals, including dogs, cats, goats, pigs, horses and wildlife, sterilisation over 14,500 animals, decreasing the number of dogs on Rarotonga from 6,000 to 2,500 with 78% of that number spayed or neutered. The foundation has also conducted 113 treks to remote outer islands, treating over 3,700 animals that would otherwise lack veterinary care, and has recruited over 350 veterinarian volunteers and hundreds of veterinary professionals from around the globe; including the Americas, Australasia, Europe and Africa. There will be plenty for you to do working in our team, where you will gain first hand experience of running a veterinary clinic and island-wide sterilisation programme.

Your daily life will be varied and dependent upon the changing needs of each day. You will spend most of your time at the clinic accepting cases and assisting the staff as necessary. Should an emergency arise, you may need to be called out.

You can expect to get involved in the following:

  • Sterilising: Spaying and neutering as and when stray dogs are found and caught.
  • Assistance: You will be assisting with keeping animal records, preparation for and recovery from surgery, handling medicines, diagnostics and administering treatments for diseases.
  • Veterinary Surgery: Should any surgery be required, you will be able to assist, depending upon your interests and abilities
  • Vaccinations: for parasite management and nutrition supplements.
  • Laboratory Work: you will be assisting with animal exams, post-mortems etc. as and when necessary.

The clinic is open 7 days a week (weekends primarily for emergencies, in-patient care and clinic maintenance). Work schedules allow volunteers when possible (keeping in mind that unanticipated circumstances can intervene) to have two days off per week. You may be asked to work weekends. Our standard hours are from 8.00am to 5.00pm.

In your free time you will have plenty of beaches and jungle walks to explore and enjoy, as well as a vibrant nightlife.

You will be met at Rarotonga International Airport and taken to the Project HQ by a project representative. You will be given an orientation, and then briefed on your work schedule.

Basic, dorm-style lodging is available on a first-come, first-served, basis. If we are full, there are many guesthouses and hotels you can choose from. Prices start at approx. $20 per night. We can help you find a suitable place before your departure.

Veterinary students and qualified professionals are very welcome on this project. However, if you do not have any experience or qualifications in this area you may still apply as there is always a need for auxiliary workers too.

  • Min age 18
  • Minimum 2 weeks commitment - 40+ hours a week
  • Good English skills
  • Full travel & medical insurance
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flights & visas
Total Fees for 2-6 week stay$650£520
Food costs per week$150£115

* Currency conversions are approximate.
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee.
*** Admin fee of $250 included

What's Included:

Project Fee includes airport pickup, orientation to the island, in-country support and integration into the project.  Accommodation is on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is no availability, we will arrange accommodation at a nearby guesthouse for $20+ per night.

What's not included:

Food, flights, insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations.

Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

Placement Support Package

For your trip, we will help you organise and plan everything you will need from start to finish. Our coordinators know each project & country like the back of their hand, and will be able to offer personalised advice to ensure your trip is well-planned & executed to perfection.

This includes one-to-one assistance planning and booking; 

  • Pre-departure Support - Flights, Visas, Vaccinations, Insurance, Essential Items and anything else you will need before you set off.
  • Ongoing In-country Support - whilst you are on the project you can Contact us at any time with any questions or concerns and we will do whatever we can to help.
  • 24/7 Emergency Support - a phone number that you or your family can ring at any time, night or day in case of emergency.

Our Placement Support Package costs £349 / $449 / €425 per person, and can be purchased once you are ready to confirm your place.


veterinary internship in the cooks
My report - Veterinary Internship on Rarotonga
By: Ashley HoustonRead More
Shannon O’Neill – Veterinary Internship in Raratonga, Cook Islands
Gaining veterinary experience in the South Pacific
By: Shannon O’NeillRead More
1 month on the Veterinary Project on Rarotonga!
By: Iris WagnerRead More
All Reports

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