Britain’s favourite vet, The Supervet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, steps out of his comfort zone in this South Africa special, travelling a world away from his specialist referral practice in Surrey to use his thirty years of expertise to help the most majestic and powerful wild animals of South Africa.
Noel, who is at the forefront of innovation in orthopaedics and neurosurgery for small animals in the UK, turns his hand to helping endangered rhinos, and improving the lives of two big cats to make the years they have left a bit easier by performing procedures rarely if ever provided for wild animals before.
“I’m very excited to go” says Noel, “I’m also a little bit afraid because it’s something I’ve never done before. I’m not sure what I’m going to see, what challenges are going to meet me…all I can do is my best, and hope that my best is good enough.”
The animals he meets are endangered by poaching, or suffering from injuries due to neglect in captivity, or from exploitation in one way or another, and all could benefit from treatments Noel provides regularly for the companion animals we share our homes with.
Noel’s patients – in wildlife reserves, orphanages and sanctuaries – include a young orphaned rhino, Kolisi, for whom Noel helps to design and build the world’s first prosthetic foot for that species; another rhino, massive 2.5 tonne Bruno who has an anti-poacher tracker inserted in his horn so he can be traced at his home on a game reserve; lame tiger, Laziz, rescued from a private zoo who receives a world first procedure for a big cat when Noel performs an arthroscopy in an effort to relieve the crushing pain of arthritis; and a lion, Rici, originally kept as a pet, whose front legs are deformed because of inbreeding and a life in captivity, who receives a cutting edge procedure to try to reduce his pain.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick said:
“Having the opportunity to travel to South Africa and spend time with the magnificent animals of the savannah and the wonderful selfless people who dedicate their lives to looking after them – often in very difficult circumstances, including illegal poaching and conflict – was truly life-changing. I found the dedication, compassion and clinical skill of the veterinary professionals I met profoundly inspirational.
“What I experienced was eye-opening to the immense challenges and responsibility we have as humankind to step up and look after these incredible animals who are intrinsic to our legacy on planet earth.”
Watch The Supervet Safari Special on Thursday 23rd February at 9pm on Channel 4 or later on catchup.
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