Meet the fresh-faced vets set to be Vietnam's leading lights of animal welfare

12 March 2021

Meet our ‘Fab Four’ veterinary interns, Han, Huong, Ngan and Thai! 

These four incredible young people have been working with our team of bear experts for the past six months, the third intake of interns we’ve welcomed at the Vietnam bear sanctuary in the last five years. 

Our Vietnam internship programme was set up to teach local vets welfare-focused veterinary medicine at an internationally accredited and respected sanctuary.

This training empowers the vets to assess the reasons why an animal is experiencing pain or discomfort, so they not only know how to treat an animal, but understand why and determine the best course of action for their specific needs. 

“When the interns first join us, they know how to treat an issue, but not necessarily why. We want them to understand the reasons behind our actions and ensure they are always doing the very best for the animal,” explained Animals Asia Veterinary Nurse Kat Donald.

Animal welfare is still a relatively new concept in veterinary medicine in Vietnam and isn’t a topic that’s taught on undergraduate courses. By teaching the interns about animal sentience, and how and why animals experience pain and emotions, the sanctuary aims to become “a powerful and highly effective vehicle for spreading the message of kindness and compassion towards bears and other animals”, Heidi Quine, Bear and Vet Team Director explains.

As well as working at the bear sanctuary and companion animal clinic, the interns are encouraged to undertake outreach work in the community. This not only enables them to gain experience of different sanctuaries, facilities and methods, and work with a range of professionals, but encourages them to always put the animals’ needs first.

As Huong explains, “we take the professionalism, empathy and skills we develop with Animals Asia to other sanctuaries because, no matter who rescues an animal, they all need to be protected, taken care of, and loved.”

It’s heartening to see the interns develop not only their technical and creative thinking skills, but also their passion for the profession and understanding of how working with local communities can only benefit animals in the long-term.

Han recalls her first bear rescue. “It was an incredible feeling,” she beams, “not just because she was being rescued, but because we were working with the farmers and local people to create a solution. They were cooperative because they saw how trustworthy and professional we are.”

The veterinary intern programme will continue to run and train as many next-generation local vets as possible in order to affect long-term change in Vietnam.

As Heidi concludes, “we have a belief in the importance of foundational change towards animal welfare in Vietnam. And it is the Vietnamese members of our team who have the unrivalled ability to influence their communities and their society at large to create long-lasting and systemic change which will reach far into the future making the world a kinder place for animals.”

Donate today so Animals Asia can continue to spread the message of kindness in action to the current and future vets of Asia.

Read more: Animals Asia promotes excellence in veterinary practice in China