Sunday, April 17, 2016
Is There a Doctor in the Zoo?
Even as a small child, David Taylor wanted to care for wild animals, to treat their wounds and cure their ills. Encouraged by his loving grandmother, together they launched him on his career as a vet who specializes in exotic animals.
Taylor got his professional start in a small two-man practice with a veterinarian who also had a zoo as a client. This man sort of inherited the zoo as a client and it was not a particularly important part of his practice. In fact, he was often called in as a mere formality so the zoo keepers could claim that the animal was attended to by the vet before it died.
But Taylor wanted to learn how to take proper care of the zoo creatures, not just be there as a last resort when all else had failed the zoo keepers. To that end, he embarked on a course of self-education, learning all he could from the keepers and other experts on the medical care of exotic creatures, everything from irascible parrots, unpredictable monkeys and apes, giant snakes, zebras, camels, seals and even dolphins and porpoises.
This book is the sequel to his first book, Zoo Vet. Although, time wise, it comes first as it details his efforts to become an expert in the care and treatment of zoo animals. Dr. Taylor has an excellent sense of humor and no problem poking fun at himself in his often messy and painful encounters with his animal patients. I especially enjoyed his description of how he freed a dugong that was being held in cruel and inhumane conditions and beaten daily to futilely provoke it into weeping, as its keeper thought that dugong tears were a cure for impotence. Even more amazing was the revenge he enacted on a bunch of drug runners who were torturing a poor animal for their simple-minded amusement. That episode alone made the whole book for me. The rest was just icing on a very tasty cake.