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Meet our marvellous vets!

By Laura du Toit
- Blog, Conservation, Foundation, Turtles, Marine Wildlife
Meet our marvellous vets!

At the Two Oceans Aquarium and its Foundation, we take animal health incredibly seriously. We are privileged to have Drs Ilse Jenkinson and Bernice van Huyssteen as our two official veterinarians, who dedicate their time, love, and expert care to our animals every day.

Today, on World Veterinary Day, let’s hear from our incredible (and women-led) veterinary team!

Dr Ilse Jenkinson

Dr Ilse is the official Aquarium vet, so she works with an impressive array of animals every day. She also works closely with the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation’s Marine Wildlife Management Programme!

What is the best part about your job?

"I love that I get to see and treat such a wide variety of animals! From filing African penguins' beaks and doing check-ups on ragged tooth sharks to darting and disentangling Cape fur seals, every day is different."

What are some of your favourite memories at the Aquarium?

"There are so many! I’ll never forget the first time I x-rayed a seahorse – it was fascinating to see the inner workings of such a fragile and beautiful animal. Successfully releasing our big ragged-tooth shark, Dané, was amazing. I’ve also had several cool encounters rescuing Cape fur seals, particularly when we rescued one from an inlet pipe in a power station! Then of course, when we got to release Nobomvu the loggerhead turtle after she went through surgeries and medication – that was a big moment."

What have you learnt while working at the Aquarium?

"Every animal is unique, just like the humans caring for them. It really is a joint effort of all these people pouring their hearts into their work that makes it all worthwhile."

Dr Ilse gently filing an African penguin's beak.

Dr Bernice van Huyssteen

Dr Bernice is the official turtle vet at the Turtle Conservation Centre, so she works with all the turtles that are undergoing rehabilitation. This includes everything from check-ups on subadult green turtles and loggerhead hatchlings to prescribing courses of antibiotics and pain medication!

What is the best part about your job?

"I love the team I work with. It is a joy to work with such kind, enthusiastic, and caring people. It’s also a real privilege to work with these rare and endangered animals and make a difference in their lives."

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Dr Bernice van Huyssteen assessing green turtle Plum.

What are some of your favourite memories at the Aquarium?

"I have a special place in my heart for Nobomvu, the loggerhead turtle. She had a rollercoaster rehabilitation, as she struggled with osteomyelitis (a bone infection caused by bacteria) in her right flipper among other issues. Performing major joint surgery on her and seeing her incredible recovery after being sick for so long will stay in my memory forever."

What have you learnt while working at the Aquarium?

"I learn something new every week! There is such a depth of unknowns still to be discovered about the incredible creatures we work with."

Our veterinary team’s support is essential to the well-being of our marine ambassadors and the proper functioning of the Aquarium and our Foundation. Drs Ilse and Bernice are incredibly enthusiastic and caring vets, without whom our animals would not be as healthy and happy!

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