Gerstell Academy Alumna Kimberly Lapidario’18 spent her summer studying around the world through a program called Loop Abroad. Over the course of three months, Kimberly worked with different species of animals in various locations around Costa Rica, Thailand and South Africa. In Costa Rica, Kimberly volunteered at the Costa Rica Rescue Center outside of San Juan, mostly working with sloths, primates, birds and other native wildlife in need of rehabilitation. She then traveled to the Osa Peninsula and worked with the Latin America Sea Turtle (LAST) association in their research. This included long days out in the water waiting for a sea turtle sighting, catching, taking biometric measurements, chipping, then releasing a multitude of green and hawksbill sea turtles.
In Thailand, Kimberly worked at Loop Abroad’s dog rescue clinic located in Chiang Mai. Next she volunteered at Elephant Nature Park, also outside Chiang Mai. There she learned about Asian elephants and their care, specifically their dietary requirements. The following week was spent learning about reforestation efforts, joining FORRU (Forest Restoration Research Unit) in their field research while living and hiking in the mountain tribe village of Ban Mae Sa Mai. For the last week in Thailand, Kimberly traveled to the remote island of Koh Tao, where she got her open water SCUBA certification and helped with ecological monitoring through the New Heaven Reef Conservation program.
Finally, in South Africa, Kimberly worked at Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn. There she got to work intimately with and learn about the big cats on the premises, especially the cheetahs living on the Jill Bryan-Fayers private reserve. For her last two weeks, Kimberly learned husbandry practices and feeding routines of various species of exotic animals at the Lory Park Zoo in Midrand, South Africa.
Although her summer world tour has come to an end, she was sure to pack with her all the knowledge and experience that can only be gained from traveling and experiencing the world. She is excited to apply what she has learned into her aspirations of becoming an animal behaviorist.
Kimberly is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at Arizona State University.