Emma’s Story

My name is Emma Ruggles RVN CertVNECC APVN (Wildlife and Zoo Animals) L3CertSAHydro, I have worked in the veterinary industry for 9 years and qualified as a registered veterinary nurse in 2016, I have always had a passion for small animal emergency and critical care and wildlife conservation. After 1 year of working as an RVN in practice I started my CertVNECC qualification, I became a Locum RVN as of June 2018.

I have always had a passion for travel and wildlife, so I decided I wanted to use my skills to
volunteer and make a difference to conservation. I travelled to South Africa in October-December 2018 for 2 months and worked as a volunteer for 2 weeks with a Wildlife Vet Dr Duplessi (African
Wildlife Vets) as a veterinary nurse and for 6 weeks I returned to Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary and worked in wildlife rehabilitation with the team to care for/hand rear and rehabilitate
orphaned rhino calves and other African wildlife including lions, hippos, serval cats, mongoose and antelope.


In May 2019, I spent 4 weeks volunteering at a small animal veterinary clinic on the pacific Island of Rarotonga. This was my first time working at a volunteer clinic and it was an amazing and eye opening experience, we had to utilise whatever medications and resources we had available and the clinic relies on donations and imported goods so sometimes this meant we had to improvise in our treatment plans, the protocols for anaesthesia, wound management and even taking X-rays were very different to what I was used too, but I learned so much!


I travelled New Zealand and Australia in 2019 and spent a month in Cairns in December
2019 working as a wildlife volunteer, for 2 weeks I worked with the team at the Cairns Sea
Turtle Rehabilitation Centre nursing and caring for sick and injured sea turtles being
prepared for release back into the wild. Followed by 2 weeks at the Tolga Bat hospital, caring
for and rehabilitating sick/injured and orphaned bats of a wide range of species.

I visited South Africa in July 2022 for my second, 2 week
Volunteer placement as a veterinary nurse with Dr Duplessi and African Wildlife Vets, this included work as part of a game capture and translocation team ensuring the safety and well being of antelope species, zebra and wildebeest being darted and trans-located.


Most recently I have been committing time to volunteering with the veterinary team at the Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand, the team there will undertake rescue operations of neglected and abused wildlife all over Thailand, including bears, elephants, tigers, and primates, and provide emergency medical treatment, and long-term care and rehabilitation. As well as health care to local domestic pets and animals to help and support the local community.


Volunteering has certainly given me some of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my career as an RVN. It’s amazing to be able to volunteer our time as veterinary professionals, whether that be working with wildlife or small animal clinics, in the UK or abroad, there are so many diverse ways we can use our skills for good.

If you would like to reach out to Emma, you can find her in the MFL community page and via her Instagram @hydrovetnurse