Dr Zoltan Szabo, a veterinarian specialising in exotic animals, consults with a colleague at Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotic Hospital
‘Between nine and ten, I do a round of checking on, and treating, exotic patients already in the hospital — usually each vet might look after four to five patients. Then we call their owners to fill them in on the progress of their pets overnight. The term “exotic animals” refers to everything that people can keep, excluding dogs and cats, but which you wouldn’t eat. So I might be treating anything from a rabbit to a rodent, a ferret, a bird or a reptile. Rabbits, chinchillas, turtles and big parrots are the most common in Hong Kong.
From around ten until noon, I usually start consultations. One of the less obvious challenges of being a vet is that time management is extremely difficult. You have to deal with a packed schedule of appointments, and people tend to be late. Also, things pop up, like CT scans, emergency surgeries or people dropping by unexpectedly to check on their pets, and you need to fit these into the schedule. Generally, specialising in exotics is way less predictable than other vets’ schedules. There are also higher casualty rates. It’s kind of like the difference between a GP and someone who works in trauma surgery.’