The Road Ahead : October 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD OCT/NOV 2012 22 LIFESTYLE QUEENSLAND INTERVIEW Q. What's the best thing about what you do? A. There are a few things. Firstly, the diversity of species -- I see so many different species in a day, that I never have a chance to get bored. Secondly, the opportunity to help an animal that might have otherwise died without our intervention. And lastly, the exhilaration that is felt when you bring an animal through its recovery and finally release it back to the wild. Q. And the worst? A. Seeing firsthand the suffering that some of these animals go through (often at the hand of humans, or our cars or pets). Then, of course, there is euthanasia, something that no vet enjoys doing but, unfortunately, it is a large part of being a wildlife vet. Q. What's the most challenging operation you've performed? A. The smallest and most challenging surgery I have done is pinning (using a modified 27G needle) a green tree frog's broken leg. Some of the larger, more complicated and longer procedures have included things such as lung surgery on koalas and amputating a flipper on a 150 kg sea turtle that had been caught in a crab pot line. Q. Obvious differences aside, how does working with, say, a cheetah compare with tending a koala? A. They respond differently to treatments. They adapt differently in care and require entirely different rehabilitation processes. Koalas to this day still amaze me at how trusting they are in care. They almost know that by allowing us to tend to their wounds and administer their medication, that it will make them feel better. Q. Have you ever been injured in your line of work? A. I have had a number of close shaves in Africa, but luckily never anything serious. I think I have been lucky in Australia and have escaped with just a few bites and scratches from time to time. Though I must say being bailed up in a corner by a wild and very angry koala or brushtail possum does get the heart racing a little! Q. If you could change anything regarding animal welfare, what would it be? A. That is an incredibly difficult question. Animal welfare covers everything from just providing adequate water and food to preventing the deliberate torture of animals. I would like to see more education around animal welfare and strong enforcement of regulations. I think until people see animal suffering firsthand, they may not truly understand how important animal welfare regulations are. Q. What interests do you have outside of your work? A. I am an avid wildlife spotter, photographer and traveller. I love going into the bush with my camera and identifying every species I see. DR AMBER GILLETT has had a passion for wildlife for as long as she can remember. Growing up, she raised injured fruit bats and the odd possum and wallaby. The RACQ member's first 'serious' experience with wildlife began when she travelled to South Africa for a wildlife symposium and game capture course. She loved it so much that she returned in the beginning of 2003 to continue her veterinary degree. The same year, Amber was lucky enough to get a job with the DeWildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre. She worked as an assistant handler for one of their ambassador cheetahs and as a tour guide, helped with feeding and also assisted with all sorts of medical procedures, from minor injuries to limb amputations. After returning to Australia in 2004, Amber completed an externship program with Taronga Zoo for four weeks and, in 2005, spent some time with Queensland's own Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. It turned out to be a pivotal moment, because this, along with her experiences overseas and in Australia, helped her get to where she is now -- an employed vet at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. wildlifewarriors.org.au vet with a wildlife calling OCTOBER/NOVEMBER MEMBERS' SPECIAL: RACQ MEMBERS SAVE MORE THAN 50 PERCENT ON BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOURS OF THE AUSTRALIA ZOO WILDLIFE HOSPITAL. TURN TO PAGE 78 FOR DETAILS. FOR A LONGER VERSION OF THIS INTERVIEW, GO TO ROADAHEAD.COM.AU.
August 1st 2012