Bristol Zoo Gardens’ head vet has won an international award for her ground breaking research work on tortoises.

Bristol Zoo Gardens’ head vet has won an international award for her ground breaking research work on tortoises.

Sharon Redrobe submitted a paper on the use of ultrasound to scan a tortoises heart to detect failure and subsequent treatment, to The British Chelonia Group (BCG) Oliphant Jackson Memorial Fund*. It is the first report of its kind on heart treatment of a live tortoise.

Sharon Redrobe receiving her awardMs Redrobe, who set up Bristol Zoo’s vet department 10 years ago, said: “This case involved a sick pet tortoise. The paper demonstrated how useful ultrasound scanning can be in tortoise medicine, and that we should consider heart failure in some of the elderly or sick tortoises we see commonly in pet practice.

“We routinely scan our tortoises at Bristol Zoo as part of their health checks. I am glad BCG has recognised the importance of this work and I fully support the great work BCG does in educating tortoise owners.”

The awarding panel was made up of the BCG president, the veterinary liaison officer and an external veterinarian with an interest in chelonian medicine. Members of the BCG visited Bristol Zoo this week to present Sharon Redrobe with her £500 prize and certificate.

Diana Scott, general secretary of the BCG, commended Sharon on her paper. She said: “It is particularly good to see research which is equally relevant for pet tortoises as well as those in large collections or zoos.”

The full title of Ms Redrobe’s paper was “Diagnosis of pericardial effusion in a spur thighed tortoise”.

Ms Redrobe is an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Zoo & Wildife Medicine and established Bristol Zoos vet service in 1999. The department gained RCVS Centre of Excellence in Zoo Medicine status in 2005, which it has since retained.

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* The late Dr Oliphant Jackson (1913-1991) was a pioneer in reptile medicine who led the way in developing interest in the treatment of reptiles, forming the first regular reptile clinic in London. He influenced a whole generation of veterinary surgeons and inspired many to take an interest in the care and conservation of reptiles.

The Oliphant Jackson Memorial Fund was established in his memory to encourage veterinary students and qualified veterinarians to take an interest in chelonian medicine. The award invited submissions from vets for the care and conservation of tortoises, terrapins and turtles worldwide.

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