Future vets get up close with reptiles

Stacey Roberts, Hills Shire Times January 20, 2017.

Aspiring young vets were treated to a hands-on experience at a Dural sanctuary over the school holidays. About 40 students visited The Kangaroo Protection Co-operative Wildlife Orphanage Sanctuary in Dural as part of a five-day camp to learn about conservation and working with animals. Sanctuary manager Ben Dessen has taught at The Future Vet Kids Camp since 2015, but this year was the first time the camp had come to him.

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Aspiring vet Alec Campbell gets up close with one of the sanctuary’s residents. Photos: Adam Ward

“Normally when I teach, I teach at the camp which is at Waverley College in Bondi … but this is the first year the organisers wanted to bring the kids out to the sanctuary, which I think is a really good idea,” he said. The Future Vet Kids Camp has been held in the January school holidays for the past six years for students from the ages of nine and over. The ‘Junior Vets’ group, for children aged 14-16+, visited the 40-acre sanctuary over two sessions on January 11 and 18. The students learnt about caring for reptiles and amphibians and had the opportunity to see about eight species up close.

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Future Vet Kids Camp participants Ellie Roberts, Alec Campbell and Yuna Okamoto with sanctuary manager Ben Dessen. Pictures: Adam Ward

Mr Dessen said the visits were “a great experience for the kids”. “A lot of kids aren’t exposed to wildlife rehabilitation and they have no idea what goes into it,” he said. Mr Dessen, who has been passionate about conservation and wildlife advocacy from a young age, said he enjoyed teaching and mentoring the students on the camp. “When I was younger, I was exactly like these kids so that’s why I love teaching at this camp because I get to see these passionate young kids who remind me of myself at that age,” he said. “I know when I was in my early teens looking at a career in animals I had a lot of mentors … so I can play that role for the next generation of conservationists, it’s a real honour.”





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