From The Consult Room To The Indian Ocean

Minnie Liddle MRCVS is a small animal vet who has been on a big adventure! After a few years in first opinion practice, she left to care for sea turtles in the Maldives with the Olive Ridley Project. (And Olive Ridley isn’t a person, it’s a species of turtle!) Her story really is amazing and an inspiration to anyone who is interested in wildlife and conservation vetting. You can follow her career and what she is going to do next on her Instagram page; Minnie The Vet

Follow Minnie on her Instagram page!

My name is Minnie and I am a 2016 RVC grad who works exclusively with sea turtles in the Maldives. I work with the Olive Ridley Project, a UK based charity that works to protect sea turtles and their habitats in the Indian Ocean – for me that translates to dealing with the devastating after effects of sea turtles entangled in discarded fish nets. I am in charge of the day to day running of a small but well equipped veterinary clinic and rescue centre where we can perform all the major interventions an injured sea turtle might need to return to the wild (xray, ultrasound, endoscopy and surgical interventions to name a few).

People often ask me if I set out to become a sea turtle vet, and although it would be impressive to answer yes, the truth is not only did I have no plan to be a sea turtle vet, but I had no plan full stop. I have always had a keen interest in reptiles and I was always enamoured with the idea of working in wildlife and conservation medicine, but I definitely didn’t have a particular idea of how or when I was going to get there and wasn’t really worried either way – I’ve always been a go with the flow kind of person! Instead, I worked flexibility into every aspect of my professional and personal life (i.e. working as a locum, having a rolling one month tenancy on my flat etc.), such that when I saw the opportunity to be a sea turtle vet in the Maldives, I was able to jump right in. 

I have now been working with sea turtles and with The Olive Ridley Project for over 1.5 years and it’s the most amazing and rewarding (and sometimes frustrating!) job ever. I get to work with an incredible and endangered group of animals and make an appreciable difference to not only the course of their individual lives but also the survival of their species. Not only that but this particular role is incredibly varied, and the trajectory of the day is always up to me, so there’s none of the same stressors as there was in first opinion practice (although there are plenty of different ones! Being a vet on a tiny tropical island brings with it extra jobs and roles you could never have imagined!). It is a metaphorical and literal world away from UK practice, that’s for sure!

I enjoyed my time in first opinion and learned a huge amount; without a doubt I couldn’t be sole charge running a wildlife clinic if it wasn’t for all the experiences I had across a variety of first opinion roles, but I couldn’t imagine doing it long term. I saw and worked with many incredible GPs and specialists who were dedicating their life to companion animal medicine, but I didn’t feel the same fire within me! So while those brilliant vets were doing that, I mused at how I could also be brilliant in a different way. And what I am brilliant at is working in unusual conditions, in unusual places and demonstrating resilience in the face of a lot of change, so I knew I could make more of an impact somewhere else than general practice – not everyone has the option or desire to uproot their whole life but I definitely did so why not play to my strengths! It was never where I thought I’d end up, but this role has proven a perfect fit for me, aligning with everything I care about across many facets of my life and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. 

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