‘Operation Wild’ Showcases Veterinarians & The Big Animals They Treat

Veterinarians treat injured and sick animals in the wild in PBS’s new three-part series.

"Operation Wild" shows how veterinarians in China help keep the endangered pandas healthy and alive.


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As veterinarians you treat all kinds of animals, from dogs and cats to birds and snakes to horses and cows. Some of you may have even treated animals in the wild, such as elephants, gorillas and tigers – or perhaps you know someone who has. It is these veterinarians who often put their lives at great risk, but perhaps don’t get the due they deserve.

PBS is changing that with their three-part series, “Operation Wild.” The series follows several veterinarians as they travel to remote areas and bring along the latest technology to treat birds, tigers, gorillas, giraffes and more, including an elephant in Laos that was shot in the leg.

According to Mother Nature Network, “Operation Wild” was a three-year long project.

Producer Serena Davies told the network, "From the moment we went into production, a team of researchers compiled a massive list of zoos, sanctuaries, animal reserves and conservation organizations. These were all asked that if one of their animals got sick could they phone the vet first and us second. We were soon receiving a large amount of calls about different cases around the world. We also then got to know many of the vets working in this kind of animal medicine and they would tell us about interesting cases they had coming up. We wanted to film so many of the cases but had to be selective in order to get the right variety of both animals and veterinary procedures We wanted to make sure we delivered a varied experience for the audience that showed the many different sides of big animal medicine."

The series will show planned procedures as well as emergency care, giving viewers a look at what these veterinarians do for birds that get stuck in kite string, a giraffe caught in a snare, a gorilla shot in the arm and a rhino whose horn was removed by poachers.

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Davies told Mother Nature Network that "we wanted to bring alive the work of amazing vets around the world and to show the scale and ambition of what they try to achieve. We wanted to immerse the audience in the extraordinary world of big animal medicine."

As for the featured veterinarians, they seemed to be more than willing to show the world what they do. Dr. Will Thomas was one such vet. He treated the elephant in Laos that was shot in the leg.

"I became involved with Operation Wild when I heard the production team was searching for large animal surgeries just at the time we were preparing to deal with Thongkhoun's case,” Thomas said, according to Mother Nature Network. “I believe that it's imperative that conservationist and veterinary surgeons working with endangered species provide as much exposure as possible to the plight of the wild — it's not one person but a movement that will save them."

“Operation Wild” premieres tonight, July 1, 2015, on PBS. Check your local listings for air times. For more information on the three-part series, visit the PBS “Operation Wild” website.

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