Britain's favourite vet, The Supervet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, steps out of his comfort zone in this South Africa Special, travelling a world away from his specialist referral practice in Surrey to use his thirty years of expertise to help the most majestic and powerful wild animals of South Africa.
Noel, who is at the forefront of innovation in orthopaedics and neurosurgery for small animals in the UK, turns his attention to saving endangered rhinos and enhancing the lives of two big cats to make the remaining years of their lives a little easier by carrying out procedures that have never, if ever, been offered for wild animals.
The animals he encounters are all in desperate need of life-changing care and are either endangered owing to poaching, injured due to mistreatment in captivity, exploited in circuses and zoos in conflict areas, or all of the above.
Noel's patients – in wildlife reserves, orphanages, and sanctuaries - include a rhino, mauled by hyenas and in need of a new prosthetic limb, and another being fitted with anti-poaching protection; and a tiger and a lion who after a lifetime of suffering may finally be given a life free from pain.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick said: "Having the opportunity to travel to South Africa and spend time with the magnificent animals of the savannah and the wonderful selfless people who dedicate their lives to looking after them - often in very difficult circumstances, including illegal poaching and conflict - was truly life changing. I found the dedication, compassion, and clinical skill of the veterinary professionals I met profoundly inspirational.
"What I experienced was eye opening to the immense challenges and responsibility we have as humankind to step up and look after these incredible animals who are intrinsic to our legacy on planet earth."
The Supervet: Safari Special airs on Thursday 23 February 2023 at 9:00 pm.