Vic Simpson - Veterinary Wildlife Investigation Centre
I first met Vic Simpson when he gave a presentation as part of the 'Wildlife Disease' module at Uni. I asked him if it would be possible to spend time at his centre and so spent the day with Vic and his wife Jane.
Whilst I was at the Centre, I saw post mortems on 2 stoats and a rabbit.
Vic started by washing the animal thoroughly to remove any dirt and, in the case of the rabbit, maggots. Washing the animal also makes it easier to carry out the port mortem as the fur is less likely to get in the way.
Initially the skin of each animal was examined, any abrasions or injuries were recorded, and a possible cause of death established. The skin was then peeled away to reveal the animals organs. From here Vic carefully removed each organ individually from the body before weighing and measuring it.
They are compiling a collection of measurements from the species brought in to gather normal ranges to species in terms of body and organ size. The catalogue could then be used to compare with other animals of that species to determine whether it was within those normal ranges.
It was fascinating to watch as Vic carefully removed each tiny gland from the animals, particularly impressive in the stoats where I struggled to even identify structures that Vic removed in seconds.
Once each structure was weighed and measured, the stomach contents of each animal was examined. This was particularly interesting in the rabbit as the stomach was filled with tiny worms and there were several tape worms within its intestines. Samples of these worms were taken and stored so they could be properly identified at a later date.
Spending time in the Lab with Vic and his wife has opened my eyes to the importance of research on wildlife. Being able to document the normal ranges of species will allow people to instantly identify an abnormal individual which could lead to the diagnosis of a disease, is extremely important particularly for animals that could transmit disease to cattle etc.