The Development Bank of Wales funds the first veterinary practice dedicated to exotic animals in Wales.
A £300,000 loan from the Development Bank Wales Flexible Investment Fund is being used by award-winning veterinary surgeon and advanced zoological practitioner Dr Sophie Jenkins to open the new independent clinic at Riverbridge Business Park, near Newport Road in Cardiff.
The 3,000 square foot unit includes dedicated parking, several consultation rooms, clinical rooms dedicated to different types of species, an isolation room, a diagnostic suite and two operating theaters. Two qualified veterinary nurses, three full-time veterinarians and two veterinary care assistants have all been recruited to provide care only to exotic animals, rabbits and small mammals. They will provide first opinion and referral services.
An avowed animal lover, Sophie has Gold Rabbit Vet status from the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) and was the winner of the 2020 Burgess Excel Rabbit Vet of the Year. She previously provided traveling veterinary services in Pontypool, Bridgend and Cowbridge. She has also practiced with the independent veterinary practice Origin Vets. Both firms will maintain a close working relationship, referring cases based on their respective specialties.
The new Origin Vets clinic will offer the full range of veterinary services only for exotic animals, rabbits and small mammals, including consultations, breeding, checkups, surgery, X-rays and ultrasounds, tests investigation and beak and nail care. Placements for veterinary students from across the UK will also be offered; offering specialized experience and training in the care of exotic animals.
Sophie said: “I was just four years old when I decided I wanted to be an ‘animal doctor’. By the age of 12, I had persuaded my parents to let me have my first exotic pet – a bearded dragon – and that’s when my fascination with exotic animals began. I graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2008 and then worked in an Australian zoo before returning to Wales and completing my postgraduate certificate in exotic animals and gaining advanced practitioner status in zoological medicine.
“There is a wide variety of exotic animals and they are becoming increasingly popular as pets, but there has not been a clinic dedicated to their care in Wales. Since I was little, I dreamed of being a veterinarian and having my own practice. Support from the Development Bank of Wales means that I am now on the verge of living my dream of opening Wales’ first ever independently run dedicated exotic animal clinic. It’s great and I’m so grateful to have such a great team to work with.
Emily Jones is Head of Investments at Development Bank of Wales. She said, “Sophie is passionate about her work and is absolutely committed to developing a progressive, forward-thinking practice focused on continuous improvement in animal care. She also helps train the next generation of skilled practitioners in the care of exotic animals. We are delighted that our investment has helped Sophie open her first clinic in Wales.
The £500m Wales Flexible Investment Fund is for Welsh companies seeking loans, mezzanine financing and equity investments of between £25,000 and £10m. Terms of up to 15 years are available.