CARES Project

hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

A hands-on veterinary externship on the front lines of conservation and international health, providing an adventure in education.

Nestled in a tropical rainforest jungle and Caribbean coast archipelago.

Panama Summer 2019 Sessions May 12-August 18

  • Perform treatments as part of our mobile veterinary clinic in indigenous villages...large, small, and wild animals!

  • A monkey sanctuary hosting 5 species of native primates, is in need of our veterinary care! Know which monkey species uses a bird call?

  • Participate with scientists at the world's leading institution in international sea turtle field research.

  • Snorkel in a coastline full of giant pink starfish and coral reefs in the pristine waters of the Caribbean while learning about veterinary concerns in ecosystem health.

  • Visit the only island in the world home to the endangered Pygmy Sloth (elective trip subject to conditions).

  • Enjoy the academic benefits of building an application or CV by working with AVMA*-accredited and Panamanian veterinarians, and PhD-level researchers on empirically-based conservation projects. *American Veterinary Medical Association

  • CARES Project is a hands-on mentorship and field course based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center, Bocas del Toro Station. As a program created by veterinarians for future veterinarians, we call it a mentorship due to the intimate level of teaching one-on-one and in small groups. The focus is to provide experience and knowledge not commonly available to pre-vets, or taught in veterinary school. Students pursuing a veterinary career need access to knowledgeable, patient mentors who care about enhancing their skills and supporting their career goals. In a safe learning environment with a team of expert instructors, you will work with new species, develop a deep understanding about international conservation challenges, and expand what you offer the field of veterinary medicine.


Discover the home of CARES in Panama:


There are not enough superlatives to describe the CARES Project and my experience there. I met and worked with amazing people who became dear friends and learned how to care for animals who I would otherwise have never encountered. Each student will have a unique experience because the demands of the environment will be different, but I can assure you, it will be no less amazing.



Anna Kristina Hugel
Gap Year Student
Loyola University
Update: Accepted to LSU Vet School


CARES Project’s Dr. Rubin in Costa Rica, facilitating the filming of Animal Planet: Vet Gone Wild (Season 1 Episode 8)

A local tourist town in Costa Rica is observing a health problem in their native monkeys. CARES Project, veterinary externship program, is helping combat the problem. A Costa Rican TV documentary, La Nave Animal, comes to feature the story.