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Edmonds' Claire Popke works with elephants and marine life


Last updated 9/7/2018 at Noon

Claire Popke scuba dived to help to do marine surveys on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand.

This summer, 22-year-old Claire Popke of Edmonds spent three weeks in Thailand helping animals, studying conservation and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian.

Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Claire was selected as part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter, worked directly with rescued elephants at an elephant sanctuary and volunteered in marine conservation on the island of Koh Tao.

The Veterinary Service program brings students to Thailand to volunteer alongside veterinarians from the U.S. and Thailand. For one week, Claire and her team volunteered at an elephant sanctuary outside Chiang Mai, Thailand, to work with the giant animals and learn about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale.

The sanctuary is home to elephants that have been rescued from trekking, logging or forced breeding programs. Many of them had been abused and suffer from chronic injuries or blindness.

Claire helped to feed and care for elephants, as well as learn about their diagnoses alongside an elephant vet.

Claire also spent a week volunteering at a dog rescue in Chiang Mai.

Claire then spent a week on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand, working through Loop Abroad with the New Heaven Marine Conservation project.

She helped to do marine surveys via scuba diving, worked on creating artificial reefs to help rebuild the coral reefs of Thailand, and studied marine conservation.

Of her trip, Claire says, “Having the opportunity to work alongside a veterinarian to treat cats, dogs, and Asian elephants has truly been a once in a lifetime experience.”

Claire recently graduated from Washington State University with a degree in biology.


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