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One puff adder, one antelope, one crocodile
This was the list of sick animals presented to Oliver Graham-Jones on his first day as a new vet at London Zoo in 1951. And his time at the zoo didn't get any less strange or entertaining.
There's the time he anaesthetized, and was then chased by, a gorilla; had to capture an angry polar bear in thick fog; performed a colostomy on a python; and fitted a raven in the Tower of London with a wooden leg. And if an animal escaped (more frequently than you might think) or required urgent medical attention, he was always on hand, ready for any eventuality. With his self-deprecating humour, Oliver frequently described himself as quaking with fear, but he was also skilful, brave and, most of all, incredibly caring and kind to his animal patients.
First published in 2001.
In 1951 Oliver Graham-Jones became London Zoo's first inhouse veterinary officer and curator of mammals, and worked there for 15 years, before leaving to become a lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College. It took him seven years to write Zoo Tails.