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Symposium at Cambridge Veterinary School.

Monday, 21st October 2013

Cambridge University has a flourishing veterinary zoological society (known to all as the CUVZS), the aims of which are to provide education and training for students in the health and diseases of wildlife, zoo animals and so-called "exotic pets". For some years the CUVZS has organised an annual weekend symposium.
CUVZS Cambridge University Veterinary Zoological Symposium

The CUVZS Symposium this year, entitled “In-Situ Conservation: at Home and Abroad“, was held over the weekend of 18-20 January.  Despite snow, cold weather and cancelled trains it attracted a total of 80 students, with representatives from all seven British veterinary schools and from Dublin.

The programme followed the traditional pattern of lectures during the day on Saturday, a formal dinner that evening, and a mixture of lectures and practical sessions on the Sunday.  Formal lectures on Saturday covered a wide range of subjects, including the diverse roles of exotic vets in the UK; interdependence between elephants and people; badger conservation in the UK; the captive-breeding programme of Amur leopards and reintroduction in Russia; zoological medicine – really mixed practice, in the UK and abroad!; disease risk analysis for UK re-introduction programmes; saving species on the edge: from theory to practice, and a thought-provoking presentation entitled “So I’m not a zoo vet and I’m not on TV … is my career over?”.

The Symposium dinner was held at Pembroke College on the Saturday evening and, in keeping with being at Cambridge University’s third oldest College (established 1347), was a grand “black tie” affair.  The after-dinner address was given by Matt Brash, President of the British Veterinary Zoological Society, while the Master of Ceremonies was Jimmie Bost, President of the CUVZS.  As ever, Dr David Chivers was prevailed upon to give his famous (and very realistic) rendering of the call of the gibbon.

Sunday morning opened with a lecture entitled “A Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, Timmy Tiptoes and the Pox”.  This was followed by the practical sessions for which participants were able to choose to attend two sessions chosen from the following:- Nutrition and feeding – hands-on investigation (sponsored by John E Haith Ltd); Raptor essentials; Avian post-mortem examination; General exotics and wildlife post-mortem examination.

Professor John Cooper and Margaret E Cooper.

Miss Rosie Haith and Mrs Rachael Haith

Flotation test

Sally Dowset on certificate duty

Nutrition and feeding – hands-on investigation (sponsored by John E Haith Ltd)

Millie Fitzmaurice and Tom (CUVZS)

Haith’s bird diets

Over lunch tribute was paid to Jimmie Bost, President of CUVZS and his team for their hard work in organising the Symposium, and to Sally Dowsett who had prepared the posters, course notes and certificates for the nutrition session.

Sunday afternoon was devoted to the treatment wildlife.  John and Margaret Cooper gave an introductory talk, entitled “Care, Cure or Conservation? The dilemmas of wildlife rehabilitation” and then led a debate.  The motion was that “This house believes that the rehabilitation of sick and injured wildlife is a waste of money and detrimental to the health, welfare and conservation of the animals concerned” and was proposed forcefully by John Cooper.  Lively discussion ensued.  The motion was soundly defeated, with only two people supporting it.

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