Authors: Lucy H Spelman
Meet Mohan, a rhino with painfully sore feet.
And Patch, a falcon with a broken wishbone.
And Kachina, a bear cub with brittle bones.
Not to mention Alfredito, a hippo suffering from a severe bout of toothache.
All these animals owe their lives to the dedicated zoo and wild animal vets who employ boundless ingenuity and expertise to care for them and who, in this beguiling book, tell the stories of their most memorable cases. They describe not only the meticulous detective work that goes into making a diagnosis but also the pioneering techniques they have developed. And they talk freely and movingly about the bonds they form with their exotic patients.
Whether it's one doctor's determined effort to save a critically ill lemur, the neurosurgeon who was persuaded to operate on a paralysed kangaroo, or the vet who refused to give up on an orphaned baby beluga whale, these are acts of rescue, kindness and co-operation that will warm every animal lover's heart.
PHOTO: Â© JULIE GHRIST
LUCY H. SPELMAN, DVM, is the regional veterinary manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in central Africa, based in Rwanda. She is the former director of the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has been featured on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.
PHOTO: Â© NANCY BOEDEKER
TED Y. MASHIMA, DVM, is director of academic and research affairs for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, based in Washington, D.C.
âReaders will be dazzled by stories of recapturing a fugitive herd of wild bison from the outskirts of Paris and medical marvels developed to treat especially small or sensitive patients.'
âSome [essays] end in sorrow, most have happy endings. What comes across in each is the love, respect, and dedication vets have for their patients. Definitely recommended.'
âThe ongoing popularity of veterinary memoirs makes this a worthy purchase, and the episodic nature of the individual stories makes it a perfect book for dipping into.'
âA stunning array of stories from twenty-eight of the best wild animal veterinarians in all parts of the world â¦ [They] are contributing indispensable knowledge to a worldwide effort to protect wild creatures threatened by human activity. My hat is off to these unsung heroes of the natural world.' Roger Sant, chair of the Board of Regents, Smithsonian Institution
âThis is a delightful book. The stories, each amazingly different, are told with warmth, humor, and sensitivity. They are sometimes sad, always captivating. It is a book you can dip into on a journey or read before sleep at night. Buy it and give copies to your friends.' Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder, the Jane Goodall Institute; UN Messenger of Peace
âSpelman and Mashima's fascinating exploration of the mysterious and often exciting world of veterinary medicine within the confines of the zoological community is a rare opportunity for the reader to go behind the scenes, where the stories of drama, discovery, and compassion have been waiting to be revealed. This book is a compelling journey of the often herculean efforts on behalf of dedicated zoo veterinarians and their charismatic patients. . . . It is a journey of triumph and tragedy, mystery and discovery, which will keep the reader glued to the pages like the prosthetic shoes glued to a rhino hoof.' Jeff Corwin, wildlife biologist and television presenter for
âThis is an inspiring collection of true stories written with respect and affection for wild animals.' Jim Maddy, president & CEO, Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Patient. Persevering. Caring. Compassionate. Dedicated. Highly-skilled and ingenious. These are just a few of the words that describe veterinarians, people who have basically given their lives over to the well-being of our animal friends.
During thirty-plus years working with all kinds of creatures, I've met many vets around the world. Whether they treat our family pets or take care of wild animals in zoos or in remote locations, these doctors are made from the same exceptional mold.
Veterinarians can't meet friends for dinner on a Saturday night without the possibility of being called away to treat an ailing critter. There's no such thing as an average day at the office. Emergencies happen dailyâand without warning. Some animals are treated quickly, while others take days, weeks, and even months of treatment. If there's no progress, vets go to work exploring other avenues to get their patients back on their own four (or two) feet.
In diagnosing patients who cannot talk and don't understand
what is being done to them, vets have to be extremely resourceful and creative, and those doctors who work with wild animals even more so. What do you do with an eel that won't eat, for example? Or with an animal in the forest that you know is injured, but you can't even find. Some animals manage to hide from the doctor for days or even weeks. In these cases, it takes a combination of stamina, smarts, intuition, and a bit of luck just to find the patientâand that's not even the hardest part. How do you pacify a creature to whom you are entirely alien? How do you, for instance, help calm the nerves of a whale shark riding in a huge fish tank perched on a ship that is pitching up and down on a rolling sea?
Vets encounter such troubles every day, and must deal with them with a clear head and psychological detachment. That's a tough job! Often, these doctors can't separate themselves completely. They too must endure worry and sadness. Vets' lives are intertwined with their animal patients. Those of us who work with wild animals develop bonds with them as wellâusually from a safe distance, of course. The special relationship we have with a favorite animal, whether it's an octopus or a tiger, makes it hard for us to see it suffer in any way.
Every animal can benefit from veterinary care. This field of science has come a long way in recent times, and wild animalsâhere at home and around the globeâhave benefited tremendously. Technology has made diagnosis and treatment much better and more efficient. Vets now treat wild animals in zoos, aquaria, national parks, and wildlife reserves, paving the way for greater successes in conservation. These doctors help breeding groups of endangered species live longer and healthier reproductive lives, often using sophisticated techniques to help them reproduce more quickly. They also treat wild animals in their natural habitats.
In Lucy Spelman and Ted Mashima's wonderful and inspiring book,
The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes
, you'll discover what it's like to be a vet working with wild animals in every imaginable setting. Through this collection of tales told by vets from around the globe, you'll explore their odd, interesting, sometimes crazy world, and enjoy every minute.
These stories demonstrate what zoo, aquaria, and wild animal veterinarians are made of. They are tough and resilient people, highly trained doctors, caring souls who have dedicated their lives here on Earth to the animals we love. In the process, they develop a “oneness” with animals. I like to think this is true for all of us. From the funny Texas dung beetles to the majestic African elephant, we are a part of Earth's life forms and thus share a common bond.
At one time, such work with endangered animals was only a dream. I hope that veterinary care for both captive- and free-living wild animals continues to increase. Sadly, there are many small, isolated populations of rare species worldwide that need help from each and every one of us. If we respect all creatures, as the vets in this book do, we can help maintain nature's delicate balance.