Vellayan, dressed in his white overall, looks
like any other animal doctor. But he does more
than what his job requires of him as the head of
the hospital at Zoo Negara.
Vellayan is not only the sole veterinarian but
also the anaesthetist, pathologist, sweeper,
drain cleaner and light fixer, all rolled in
one. Fortunately, Dr Vellayan is not bothered at
all that he has to perform these non-medical
duties, although he has six full-time zoo
workers to help him.
day begins at 7.30 a.m. when he goes on his
rounds inspecting and examining the animals in
the zoo. Dr Vellayan takes along some treats for
his animals when he makes his rounds. He always
carries along with him some hibiscus leaves,
fruit and lemon grass.
During his rounds, he will inspect the animals
assess how the sick animals have responded to
treatment and update their medical records as
well as fill in a daily report book on the
general health of the animals.
rounds usually end at 10.30 a.m. Then he will
catch up with paperwork, prepare medicine or
carry out post mortems. Other routine tasks he
has to attend to are record-keeping, ordering of
drugs, preparing daily reports, seeing to the
preparation of food for the animals and taking
care of the cages.
day does not end at 5.30 p.m. He may be resting
at home but he is on
call 24 hours day. In fact, he has
been called back to work while on holiday or
while attending conferences. However, he has
made a pact with the experts from the Veterinary
Faculty of University Putra Malaysia to treat
the animals. Should there be any emergencies
during his absence,
they will be attended to by these
experts from the faculty. Sometimes, he also
seeks help from private practitioners but Dr
Vellayan laments that some of these
veterinarians are not familiar with handling
wild and exotic species.
Although Dr Vellayan's job is very demanding, he
has never had an assistant vet to help him.
However, he considers himself fortunate that he
has six full-time zoo workers to help him see to
the health of the 4000-odd animals in the zoo.