Not all super heroes wear capes and no-where is that truer then on the front-line of every FOUR PAWS rescue mission. Dr Amir Khalil has been leading the emergency rescue missions for 26 years and for the last 10 years has often been joined by Dr Frank Göritz head vet at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate all that they have helped us achieve whilst also giving them a very well-deserved round of applause.
For Frank, the passion started when he was just eight years old through a combination of wanting to treat his own dog and spending time with a family friend who was a vet. After school, Frank enrolled in the army and from there studied veterinary medicine at Humbolt University in Berlin. Specialising in wildlife medicine, Frank honed the skills that would later become invaluable on FOUR PAWS rescues around the globe. For Amir his passion for animal welfare also started at a young age, but his inspiration came from the characters brought to life on the TV series Daktari, little did he know he would one day be gracing it too. Together the pair have travelled to Gaza, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and most recently Pakistan.
Both vets, and the team have had to undergo training in order to be able to operate in the often hostile environments and, as Amir says, you have to always be ready for anything. But the rewards certainly make the tough conditions worth it.
“Be prepared to expect the unexpected”.
Dr Amir Khalil
Frank remembers the rescue and treatment of a bear who was missing a front leg (Bear Dushi) and watching the recovery and his adjustment to his species-appropriate home at Bear Sanctuary Muritz as a stand-out moment, and one that even brought tears to his eyes. More recently there was the survival of the lions at a zoo in Sudan. More recently, the challenging relocation of elephant Kaavan, who with the help from superstar Cher, was moved from a lonely existence in isolation in Pakistan to finally live a species-appropriate and peaceful life along with other elephants in Cambodia. The relocation was the heaviest rescue to date, and a huge logistical challenge to pull off, especially during a global pandemic!
These challenges and transformations are what inspire both Amir and Frank to do their jobs and the moment that many rescued animals see grass for the first time is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, for both animal and vet alike.
Both Amir and Frank are united in the passion for their jobs, but both wish that there was a greater understanding of wild animals not being pets and the need for them to be given the respect they need. If this is appreciated, then Frank, Amir, and the team may never have to see animals starving to death in captivity and pick-up the pieces of the broken animals that are living in the midst of conflict.
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