Seven Weeks in South Africa
Julia Lahue, Missouri, spent summer 2021 up close and personal with the majestic mammals of South Africa. Think: Petting cheetahs, holding black and white lemurs and walking with elephants. You may be wondering how she was lucky enough to do all this …
Well, Julia knew she wanted to get out of town for the summer, so she started looking at international internship programs. Through a travel agent, Julia found the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Conservation Center, an accredited zoo committed to conservation and preservation ethics. So, she packed her bags and headed to South Africa for seven weeks.
At the conservation center, she learned about local South African policies and the fact that the animals’ environments are disappearing. “If we don’t take these animals in, they’re not going to have a home,” says Julia.
Devoted to saving South African animal populations, the center promotes the conservation of endangered species — with an emphasis on cheetahs — through research, breeding and public awareness.
In addition to cheetahs, Julia says the center heavily focuses on lemurs. They’ve relocated ring-tails, black and white ruffs, and brown lemurs from Madagascar and are providing them sanctuary.
The lemurs are so sweet, she says. “I love that you can hold them and they’ll give you love back because they’re primates.” During her internship, Julia formed such a special bond with Joe, a black and white ruffed lemur, that she decided to “adopt” him, meaning she’ll get monthly updates on how he’s doing.