Vets on the wild side
Zebras, lions and elephants among the patients
THE DIRECTOR of a locally- filmed documentary series about student vets at an animal clinic bordering the Kruger National Park says he hopes the show will inspire a new generation to take up this “noble profession”.
Frontier Vets is a 13-episode series set to air on SABC from next Saturday.
It follows six students from Onderstepoort, the University of Pretoria’s faculty of veterinary science, along with two students from the US and Germany, as they work for a month at an animal clinic in the small town of Hluvukani, Mpumalanga under the watchful eye of resident vet Dr Greg Simpson.
Here their patients are not only cats, dogs and cattle, but everything from zebras and lions to elephants.
“South Africa is short of vets in certain areas, rural areas such as Hluvukani in particular,” said series director and producer Jonty Acton.
Simpson said he hoped South Africans would find the series both “educational and entertaining”.
“There is a great need to stimulate interest in the profession in all cultures in our country,” he said.
Acton said that while the life of a vet could be emotionally tough and even “soul-destroying at times’ it was also “incredibly rewarding”.
“The young men and women who choose this profession are, in my mind, heroes,” he said.
He said the idea for a documentary series about local vets was Simpson’s, a friend of his from school.
“He knew that I was in the film business and looking to develop new projects.”
The Hluvukani Animal Clinic, which opened in 2008, is satellite training clinic of the veterinary faculty of the University of Pretoria.
Students from Onderstepoort do practical rotations at the clinic, after six years of study.
They usually study at the clinic for two weeks, but this was increased to four for filming purposes.
Frontier Vets was filmed not only in Hluvukani near the western edge of the Kru- ger National Park, but in the world-famous park itself and private game reserves in the area.
“What made the idea so strong for Dr Greg was how much these students learnt in their time at the clinic, not just about vet science, but about themselves,” said Acton.
“This isn’t your typical reality show clichéd (with) win or lose scenarios. Its about discovering what kind of vets they want to become, and in the process what kind of people they are.”
While the show will make its debut on South African TV next week, it has already been shown in Spain, Greece, Russia, Brunei and Thailand.
Frontier Vets is on SABC3 from next Saturday at 11.30am.
A student vet gets to grips with a zebra during the filming of Frontier Vets, a local 13-episode documentary series set at an animal clinic near the Kruger National Park.