Meet a wildlife vet nurse

We catch up with Ana Baptista, who’s a veterinary nurse for wildlife at Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre – one of our four centres for rehabilitating wildlife. 

Tell us about your job.

I’ve worked as a Wildlife Assistant Vet Nurse at RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in East Sussex for five years now.

I provide day-to-day care and help animals get ready to be released – from pigeons to seals. 

How did you get the job?

I’ve always loved animals. I spent summers volunteering with wildlife rescues in Portugal, where I’m from, rescuing birds of prey, like vultures, eagles and owls.

Once I’d finished my A-levels, I studied Veterinary Nursing and graduated in 2010. I worked for a government wildlife rehabilitation programme before moving to the UK in 2013. The RSPCA has a great reputation in Portugal, so I was thrilled to start working at Mallydams in 2018.

Ana spent her summers volunteering with wildlife rescues in Portugal.
Ana releasing a buzzard back into the wild.

What do you love most about the work?

So much! Seeing animals return to the wild is really rewarding. My wildlife experience means I’m able to care for a range of species with different needs. There’s always a variety of animals at Mallydams, which keeps things interesting. 

Ana examining a guillemot as part of her role at Mallydams animal centre.

Are there any tough or sad parts of your job?

At times, working in rehabilitation and nursing can be tiring, and sad too. We’ve been seeing lots of seabirds and seals tangled up in ocean litter. Plus, Mallydams has been badly affected by bird flu.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?

We once received a worried call about a duckling, asking if we could return them to a nearby pond. Turns out it was a baby wood pigeon! 

Another time, we were handed a lost marmoset monkey. A passer-by had lured her into a basket with a custard cream! Thankfully, we were able to transfer her into specialist care. 

Do you have any pets?

I have a rescue cat called Kira. When she was abandoned at the vet’s with a broken leg, I arranged to visit her. As soon as I set eyes on her, she climbed on my shoulder and started playing with my hair. I think she chose me!

Do you have any advice for someone who’d like a job like yours?

Be determined to make it. And when you’re old enough, volunteer! It’s great experience and a good excuse to see some amazing creatures first hand.