This weekend marked my first Symposium - I felt like an actual academic (clever, very clever..). It was an insightful, informative and fascinating weekend full of lectures - not for the light-hearted but don't panic, a couple of great socials and cake sale thrown in - everybody likes cake, eh?!
We conducted hands-on necropsies of a Harbour porpoise, Common seal and a theoretical lecture-based Baboon necropsy (health and safety constraints, of course..) Heard lectures from researchers in fields varying from studying myoglobin in diving mammals to taste perception in birds; representatives from charities such as Save the Rhino and Worldwide Veterinary Service; Staff from Knowsley Safari park who led a fascinating debate about Marius the Giraffe (you've all heard about him) and Vets themselves who talked about their personal involvement with wildlife such as Sumatran Orangutans and Bears (amongst others). These resulted in a vast array or topics, concerns and interests of which I was amazed at how much just 3 months at Vet school enabled me to understand!
Possibly the most pertinent message I took from the weekend was from Heather Bacon, a vet who has had a lot of involvement in improving the welfare of uncountable bears previously used for bile production or dancing. As a vet, we all agree to ALWAYS put the welfare of the animal above EVERYTHING else*, so why are some treatments considered unnecessary certain species, but not in others? To not wish to bore people with my ethical views here, if you are interested, it's something I will discuss on my blog homepage.
Whether this would one of the best (affordable/realistic) weekends you could dream of, like me, or you are just vaguely interested - I urge you to take the opportunity and go! It'll help open anyone's eyes, no matter how well informed they thought they were. No-one is ever an expert - someone else will always know more!
*see the RCVS Code of Conduct