2018-08-09 / Life in Leelanau

Budding vet: bigger is better in animal care

Elephant care in Thailand
By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff


JADEN PREVOST smiles with an elephant at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand. Prevost got hands-on veterinary experience working with the giant animals. JADEN PREVOST smiles with an elephant at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand. Prevost got hands-on veterinary experience working with the giant animals. Caring for cats and dogs may be enough for some veterinary students, but others prefer larger — and more exotic — patients.

Count 2015 Leland School graduate Jaden Prevost as one who is working beyond the norm. She recently traveled to Thailand to care for elephants.

Prevost is a rising senior at Michigan State University where she majors in animal science. She traveled across the globe with an organization called Loop Abroad.

Elephants may have been the biggest of their patients, but the budding vet also had opportunities to work with dogs, cats, rabbits, goats and horses.

“It was kind of like a Dr. Doolittle farm out there,” she said. “I spent the first week at the Elephant Nature Park and the second week in Chiang Mai (at the Animal Rescue Kingdom dog shelter). It was really fun.”


A GOAT at an animal rescue in northern Thailand gets care from Leland School graduate Jaden Prevost. Prevost recently visited Thailand as a part of a study-abroad program. A GOAT at an animal rescue in northern Thailand gets care from Leland School graduate Jaden Prevost. Prevost recently visited Thailand as a part of a study-abroad program. Both animal places are in northern Thailand.

Prevost was selected to become part of a small team, according to Loop Abroad.

During her time out of the country, she volunteered alongside veterinarians from the United States and Thailand.

Prevost and her team spent their first week volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand where they worked hands-on with the giant animals. They also learned about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale.

The Elephant Nature Park is home to over 60 elephants who have been rescued from trekking, logging, or forced breeding programs. Many of them had been abused and suffer from chronic injuries or blindness.

“I was surprised by the noises the elephants make. They sound like dinosaurs” Prevost said. “I also didn’t expect to be so (much) ‘hands on.’ We actually got to do blood draws, vaccinations and clean out elephant wounds.”

She said she really enjoyed working with the larger animals. It was a contrast from the experience she has had at school. And she has a direction as to which types of animals she’d like to work with in the future: The bigger the better.

“I like dogs and cats, but I like cows and horses a lot more,” she said. “I think they’re cuter.”

As a native of Leelanau County, Prevost grew up with chickens, dogs, cats and parakeets. “But I didn’t grow up on a farm,” she said.

Perhaps what struck Prevost the most about the Thailand culture was the feeling of joy shared by the people.

“It was really different,” she said. “Everyone was super nice and smiling all the time. It was really welcoming and everyone was happy.”

When asked if she would do it all over again, Prevost didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely,” she said.

“This trip gave me so many cool experiences. Volunteering with elephants, dogs, and cats was incredibly rewarding and I am so grateful to have been a part in this Loop Abroad program,” she said.

And she encouraged others considering becoming a vet to get experience as well. “Try shadowing someone because you get a lot of experience and it will help you see if you want to do it or not,” she said.

Prevost said she plans to attend graduate school to study veterinary medicine and hopes to return to Leelanau County someday.

Return to top