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New Breed Vets
Synopsis | Episode Guide | Australian Wildlife Hospital | Acclaim


In this episode, our New Breed Vets perform some daredevil helicopter flying to shoot down a wild African Elephant to assist research into elephants. The most amazing eye operation gives a second chance at life in Colorado for a Great Horned Owl from the Rocky Mountains. And in Chicago, marine vet experts race against the clock to save a giant fish – an Australian Grouper with a malignant cancer on its head. And our New Breed Vets at the Marine Mammal Center scan the brainwaves of Californian Sea Lions.

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Case Study elephant  

Episode: “Brothers”
Case Study: Elephant Radio Tracking Collar
Location: Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, South Africa
Veterinarian: Dr Peter Brothers

Dr Peter Brothers is performing two tasks - one is to track elephants as part of a conservation research project, the second is to test new radio tracking collars that are more efficient, less obtrusive and more robust. Dr Brothers used an immobilisation drug that is extremely dangerous to humans but harmless to elephants. The drug works on the endorphin receptors in the nervous system and works on the voluntary muscles, thus making the animal stop. Once the elephant was darted from a helicopter, it was important to monitor him from the air and keep him in an area accessible by the ground crew, and also to keep him away from any potential dangers. Once he was down, it was crucial to ensure his trunk was extended and the tip kept open to allow him to breathe, and also to ensure he was lying on his side, because the body weight and subsequent pressure on his heart and lungs in an upright position is enough to kill him. It was very important to monitor his temperature and keep him cool with water. The collar, which consists of a GPS unit and a mobile phone unit to transmit coordinate information, was attached around the elephant’s neck by Dr Brothers and Steve. The data is logged and then plotted onto a map of the area. Their movements can then be related to vegetation in the area as well as water sources to determine patterns in their movement and behaviour.

Patient Card - elephant
Procedure card elephant

Procedure card elephant

Case Study owl  

Episode: “Brothers”
Case Study: Great Horned Owl Eye Operation
Location: Colorado State University, Fort Collins USA
Veterinarian: Dr Julie Gionfriddo

This owl was brought to the Colorado State University with a badly damaged cornea and a fractured humerus. As a bird of prey, it relies on its incredible eyesight to hunt and was in serious need of medical attention. It had previously undergone a procedure on its damaged wing and was then brought to the ophthalmology department for its eye. Dr Julie Gionfriddo had attached a piece of living muscle to the damaged section of cornea, which grew onto and over the wound like a living band-aid. After several weeks of recuperation, Dr Gionfriddo assessed the damage to the cornea had healed significantly. A second procedure was required to allow the owl to finally see again. Using a specialized microscope Dr Gionfriddo cut the muscle away and the wound in the cornea was stitched over. The eye was also stitched closed to aid in the healing process, because the cornea needs the proteins from the inside of the eyelid to heal. The eyelid was unstitched several days later and this bird was eventually released back into the wild.

Patient Card - owl
Patient card owl

Procedure card owl
Vet Cards  

Dr Peter Brothers:

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, South African wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Brothers darts a male African Elephant from a helicopter for immobilisation in order to attach a radio-tracking collar around his neck in the Venetia Limpopo Nature Conservancy.


Dr Brothers is a veterinarian with a difference. He is a specialist wildlife vet as well as a registered South African tour guide. Dr Brothers’ company, Brothers Safaris, offers safaris throughout southern Africa specialising in species conservation and participation safaris and specialist veterinary safaris. His passion for wildlife and eco-tourism gives clients a rare and unique hands-on opportunity to become involved in wildlife conservation.

Dr Peter Brothers
Dr Jon Hanger:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, Australia Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Jon Hanger is extremely concerned about the deteriorating condition of Arjuna, one of Australia Zoo’s Bengal tigers.


Dr Hanger, who has loved animals since he can remember, was born with a passion for saving wildlife. He has been working professionally with Australian wildlife for the past 15 years and is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost koala experts. In 2003 he commenced working at the Australian Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo with Steve Irwin. As Senior Veterinarian, Dr Hanger has treated an extremely wide and diverse number of wildlife species.

Dr Jon Hanger
Dr Martin Haulena:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, Dr Marty Haulena calls on the expertise of human neurology specialist Dr Ken Laxer to assist with EEGs in Californian Sea Lions at the Marine Mammal Center in San Francisco USA.


Dr Haulena is the Staff Veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. His special interests are in the medical management of marine mammals, with emphasis in novel diagnostic methods such as MRIs, endoscopy and sonography, and in developing safe anaesthetic protocols as well as improving surgical techniques. Veterinary students from around the world study marine mammal medicine each year under the direction of Dr. Haulena.  His professional affiliations include the International Association for Aquatic Animal Health, Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Dr Martin Haulena
Dr Kenneth Laxer:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, human neurology specialist Dr Ken Laxer assists Dr Marty Haulena with EEGs in Californian Sea Lions at the Marine Mammal Center in San Francisco.


Dr Laxer is a human neurologist with a special interest in the development of new neuro-imaging techniques – specifically Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and the development of new anticonvulsants. He has a Bachelor of Science in Control Systems Engineering, a Doctorate from the University of California, neurology and clinical neurophysiology training and a fellowship in cerebellar physiology. Dr Laxer is also director of the Pacific Epilepsy Program and has worked closely with Dr Haulena on the Californian Sea Lion.

Dr Kenneth Laxer
Dr Mitch Robbins:  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, Dr Mitch Robbins and his team at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, USA perform amazing skin cancer surgery on a huge Queensland Grouper.


Dr Robbins is fascinated by the bond between animals and humans, and his special interest lies in the preservation and improvement of that bond. Dr Robbins has established himself as the main cancer and soft tissue surgeon at the Veterinary Specialty Center, Illinois. He is also the lead surgeon working with minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy, laparoscopy and thoracoscopy.

Dr Mitch Robbins
Dr. Susan Kraft  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, Dr Susan Kraft uses the latest medical technology to diagnose a sick orang-utan at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA.


Dr Susan Kraft serves as a veterinary radiologist providing clinical service at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and is also the co-director of the MRI service in the Animal Cancer Center. Dr Kraft’s special clinical imaging interest is in cancer imaging with MRI. Dr Kraft’s research involves the detection and characterising of cancers and evaluating their response to therapy.
Dr Susan Kraft
Dr. Julie Gionfriddo  

In the New Breed Vets episode ‘Brothers’, Dr Julie Gionfriddo performs delicate surgery at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the eye of a Great Horned Owl, uswltimately enabling it to hunt again.


Dr Gionfriddo is an eye specialist – an ophthalmologist. She has a Degree in Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science as well as a Diplomate American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. Dr Gionfriddo is Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University. Dr Gionfriddo’s clinical interests include camelid ophthalmology and a fascination with the eyes of llamas, alpacas and camels. Dr Gionfriddo is currently researching glaucoma in canines and camelids.

Dr Julie Gionfriddo
New Breed Vets