Darwin Animal Doctors


Category Archive: Monthly reports

  1. International Slow Loris Day

    A wonderful team of people, committed to slow-loris conservation, including the team as ISCP, https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original, have decided to dedicate September 13th as International Slow Loris Day. In honour of this, this week, we are all about slow-lorises!!!!


    These beautiful, little, nocturnal primates have some unique adaptations that make them incredibly interesting. For a start they have a toxic bite!!! The only primate to have to have this trait! They have a gland on their upper arm that they lick, which combines with their saliva (made toxic from vegetation they eat), to form their toxic bite! It has been known to cause anaphylactic shock and even one reported death in humans!

    There are 8 different species of slow loris, found all across Southeast Asia, in tropical and subtropical regions in rainforests, bamboo groves and mangrove forests.

    The species our friends in Sumatra are dedicated to rescuing are the Sunda slow loris. These lovely little creatures are listed as ‘Endangered’, with all species being ‘Threatened’, ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’. The lovely, distinctive pattern around those huge eyes differs from each species.

    Slow lorises have a very low basal metabolic rate- they’re slow, very much like sloths! and yet they have a high calorie diet: fruit, gum tree, nectar, insects and small animals and birds. So why the slow metabolism? It’s so they can eat toxic foods to give them that toxic bite we talked about earlier. For example, slow lorises feed on Gluta bark, which can be fatal to humans.

    And because of their slow movement, the lorises’ defenses are to hardly disturb the vegetation as they move in the trees and they are almost completely silent. Once disturbed, they immediately stop moving and remain motionless. That and the toxic chemicals they brush into the fur of their young, help protect them against predators including snakes, hawk-eagles, cats, sun bears, binturongs, civets, and any other predators.

    Unfortunately, all slow lorises are threatened by the wildlife trade and habitat loss. Their habitat is rapidly disappearing and becoming fragmented, making it nearly impossible for slow lorises to disperse between forest fragments. And there are deep-rooted beliefs about the supernatural powers of slow lorises, such as their supposed abilities to ward off evil spirits or to cure wounds in traditional medicine. In many parts of S.E.Asia, certain parts of these poor creatures are also supposed to bring good luck.

    But what we’re seeing, seemingly ever increasingly in Sumatra, is the trade in slow lorises as exotic pets. Slow lorises are sold locally at street markets, as they are very popular pets, particularly in Indonesia. They are often seen as “living toys” for children by local people. Weekly, ISCP’s team in Sumatra are rescuing slow loris that are being kept as pets. Often the individuals keeping them hand them over willingly having not known previously that local laws prohibit the trade in slow lorises. As these groups educate the local communities, more people become aware that their actions are in fact illegal.

    Even sadder is the international smuggling of slow lorises to Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia for use as pets. They’re considered especially popular because “they’re easy to keep, they don’t cry, they’re small, and just very cute.”

    To protect people from their potentially toxic bite, animal dealers pull out their front teeth This results in severe bleeding, which sometimes causes shock or death.

    Without their teeth, the animals can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, and must remain in captivity for life. Slow lorises are also stress-sensitive and do not do well in captivity. Common health problems seen in pet slow lorises include undernourishment, tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure. Infection, stress, pneumonia, and poor nutrition lead to high death rates among pet lorises.

    Any rescued lorises at ISCP undergo a full medical before release, and are rehabilitated at the centre where necessary. In its lifetime, ISCP has rescued over 70 slow loris, along with leopard cats, macaques, gibbons, binturong, sun bears, raptors and over 1000 songbirds and other wildlife. 4 slow loris were rescued and released in the last week of August alone, with 6 being cared for at the rehabilitation centre right now.

    So we at DAD, with our partners at ISCP and other friends and NGO’s would love for these beautiful, shy creatures to be recognised and protected this September 13th.

    And I’ll finish with my favourite Loris fact… They first appeared in the Asian fossil record around 18 million years ago, and they are distant cousins of the equally beautiful lemurs in Madagascar.


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  2. Africa Animal Welfare Conference

    We have some exciting news this week. The wonderful Sarah, our Community Developer here at DAD, has been accepted to talk at Africa Animal Welfare Conference (AAWC) 2020. https://www.aawconference.org

    This is the 4th annual African Animal Welfare Conference, this year, a virtual conference, running from September 7 -10th and is a collaboration between a number of different organisations, with our position as a member of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia allowing us to participate, and raise awareness for our ongoing projects in Morocco and Tanzania.




    The conference provides a platform for different organisations, like us, who are animal welfare stakeholders in Africa to discuss developments in, and hopefully encourage further development and planning to realise animal welfare.

    Of course, one of the issues being discussed will be the implications of COVID-19 and any future zoonotic diseases and their effects on human health, animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation.

    But that is just a small part of the program. They’ll be looking at the progress in animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation, human and animal health and sustainable development in Africa: Discussing the role of governments, individuals, organizations, and communities in achieving responsible use of animals, improving animal welfare, and supporting environmental conservation in Africa: Assessing the role of natural solutions in tackling the challenges of development in Africa; and much much more.

    Don’t worry if you’re interested but don’t have the time to watch. We’ll be updating on the conference again in the coming weeks, particularly on Sarah’s involvement. We’re very proud to see her there!!


    Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  3. Gibbons in Sumatra

    It’s only been a short while since we announced that ISCP, the Indonesian Species Conservation Program had completed construction on a primate enclosure in North Sumatra, with BKSDA. Well we’re over in Sumatra again to introduce the latest residents at the Sibolangit wildlife rescue center… a beautiful pair of Siamang Gibbons!!!!

    The gibbons were introduced to their temporary home on Thursday 23 July 2020, coinciding with the visit of the Indonesian deputy minister of forestry and environment, accompanied by the head of BKSDA.

    These two Siamangs were confiscated from illegal wildlife trade and will be rehabilitated at the rescue center before being released into the wild.

    The Siamang Gibbon (Symphalangus syndactylus) is one of 18 different species of gibbon found across Southeast Asia. You’ll find the beautiful, black-furred Siamangs in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand!

    Gibbons are classified as lesser apes. Like the great apes, they have no tails, and gibbons, when on the ground will walk around on 2 feet like a human, but with their arms in the air for balance. They are, however, arboreal: at home in the treetops, where they eat mainly plants. Up to 60% of the Siamang’s diet is fruit, mainly figs!

    The gorgeous Siamangs are a bit different to all their cousins. They have a big ‘gular sac’ or throat pouch, which can be inflated to the size of the siamang’s head, allowing it to make loud, resonating calls or songs. The Siamang starts its day by calling in the early morning; it’s an amazing wake-up call in the rainforest!!!

    They’re also the biggest of the gibbons, they can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 90 cm in height (35 inches), and weighing up to 12 kg (26 pounds)!

    Unfortunately gibbons are yet another species that is under threat. The illegal pet trade takes its toll on the population in Sumatra, as with these two rescued by ISCP and BKSDA, but the main threat is habitat loss.

    Deforestation through palm oil plantations and illegal logging has reduced their forest habitat immensely, as have the forest fires in recent years, leaving these amazing creatures listed as Endangered.

    Now with the primate enclosure in Sumatra, our partners at ISCP can work to do their bit to save these magical tree-dwellers!!!

    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:


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  4. Ismael’s Animal Shelter

    Today we’re taking at Tanzania and Ismael’s Animal Shelter, the very first animal shelter in all of mainland Tanzania! https://www.facebook.com/AnimalRescueTz

    In Arusha, in northern Tanzania, people have negative perceptions of dogs, with dogs generally viewed as ‘dirty, unworthy creatures’. It’s here that Ismael has decided to spend his life helping dogs. Ismael focuses on rescuing these poor, stray street-dogs and rehabilitating them for rehoming!

    In 2017, his story featured in the Dodo, https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/tanzania-street-dog-rescue, growing from Tina, the first street dog he rescued in 2016, who’d given birth to puppies underneath bush. Having taken them home, sheltered them in a box and fed them, he reached out on facebook and from there his network began to grow.

    With help from this new community, he was able to build a proper shelter, learn about vaccinations, spay and neuter the original puppies, and many more since.

    At the time of the article, Ismael had rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed more than 30 dogs, and this number has continued to rise in the years since. We’ll be sharing some of his wonderful rescue stories in the weeks to come via email, instagram and facebook.

    But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Ismael and his shelter. The Dodo article highlights an incident when Tina ran away and was shot in the leg and neck (it was a happy ending, with the vet being able to save her), but it shows the issues faced by street dogs in Tanzania: abuse, violence and neglect.

    Rescuing and rehoming unfortunate dogs is an issue very close to our hearts here at DAD, so we want to do what we can to help Ismael. Our goal is to help him to expand from 3 kennels to 6, buy a motorbike to transport essential supplies and puppies, and of course help with the everyday costs of food and vaccinations.

    The link below will take you to our paypal donation page where you can contribute directly to our fundraiser for Ismael’s Animal Shelter and stay tuned over the coming weeks for more adorable pupdates!


    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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  5. UN Sustainable Development Goals

    As some of you may recall, back in February, Tod and Piggy attended the UN, as DAD became members of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

    The details of a political forum  can all be found here (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf), and makes for some very interesting reading, but their goals can be summed up in:

    “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, [which] provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.” (https://sdgs.un.org/)

    These 17 goals cover everything from poverty, hunger, health and well-being, gender equality, water and sanitation, clean energy, work and economic growth, industry and innovation, addressing inequality, life on earth, climate change, peace and justice, and of course, education.

    Just recently, our very own Dr Tara Clarke was involved with a project looking at the care, conservation and protection of animals (http://animalissuesun.org/). In her interview, Tara talks about animal smuggling and our work with the local communities around the world to preserve natural habitats.

    Please take some time to follow the link below for an interactive look into animal conservation, the realities of poaching and extinction, and to hear the interview with Tara, and others working on animal well-being and conservation.


    We are incredibly proud of our position as a full constituent member of the UN Stakeholder Group for Education and Academia, and we hope to be able to continue to do all that we can, through our own organisation and collaborations like this, to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals!

    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:


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  6. Expansions in Sumatra

    Back in early May, we were honoured to help our partners at ISCP in donating a primate habitation enclosure to the North Sumatra BKSDA Animal Rescue Centre TWA Sibolangit to be used for the rehabilitation of confiscated primates before they are released back to their natural habitat. This will enable ISCP to further support the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife in Sumatra.

    Having had the request for construction approved by the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW), work began on construction, despite the pandemic, with workers following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.

    Building works have progressed rapidly over the last 2 months with good weather allowing the structure to be built quickly and environment enrichments being added just last week.

    This very week there will be a symbolic handover of the completed enclosure, where the head of the North Sumatra BKSDA and the Vice Minister of Forestry and Environment of the Republic of Indonesia will be in attendance, and shortly after that, we hope to have gibbons transferring into the enclosure. So keep watching for exciting new rescues and adorable gibbons!!

    A fantastic job by our friends and partners in North Sumatra. We can’t wait to see what this brings.



    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

    Cute Piggy image of the week:

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  7. A Tribute to Piggy

    As you have all, no doubt now heard, our hero and best friend to all; the wonderful Piggy, succumbed to cancer at the end of May. 

    We promise to make sure that Piggy’s spirit, indelible ability to inspire and bring a smile on everyone’s face will live on.

    This is just a small tribute to him…











    All the team at Darwin Animal Doctors send our love, support and sympathies to Tod, Piggy’s family and friends, and all those who continue to love Piggy. We’re sure you’ll join us in this, and in keeping Piggy’s amazing work going.



    -Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors

  8. Brazil – Protectors Without Borders

    The first in our series, looking at our projects around the world…

    We’re starting in Brazil – Protectors Without Borders. https://www.facebook.com/protetoresemfronteiras/

    The creator of Protectors Without Borders, Paula has been an Animal Protector for 24 years, starting out on her own, looking after the stray dogs in her community: feeding, vaccinating, castrating. As an individual, using her own funds, there was a limit to what she could do alone, but she wasn’t stopping…

    Over time more protectors got involved, each contributing what they could to the collective group; resources, experience, medication. The group is able to discuss animal adoptions, requests for help, and are able to ensure help arrives quickly and in a targeted manner. Each protector works with their own animals but has the support of the group.

    Protectors Without Borders now has links with their State Representative so abuse and mistreatment can be reported and investigated.

    Within this amazing group of animal protectors, each individual will often care for 30-50 animals, helping one another out where necessary and holding raffles and adoption fairs for the many animals they rescue and treat each month. This can be up to 150 animals a month needing temporary or permanent homing.

    It is an amazing thing they’re doing, all for the love of animals!

    Whether it’s strays collected from the streets like this poor Dachshund type:

    Or puppies abandoned on their doorsteps:

    There will always be dogs, and cats needing their help!

    Of course, our COVID-19 Campaign continues, helping ensure superheroes like these are able to continue despite the current difficulties!


    -Tod and Piggy, Presidents, Darwin Animal Doctors


    Piggy update for the week:

    Piggy has started his chemo this week. He’s taking a lot of medication that makes him sleepy but he has a lot of friends with him to help with the recovery process, and he even has this little squirrel visiting! As always, his spirits are up and he’s enjoying life! Thanks to everyone for your support!

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  9. All About Sun bears

    This week is all about sun bears. Not only Ucok, the orphaned sun bear our partners are helping care for in Sumatra, but also a bit more about sun bears as a species too. We keep talking about these lovely little creatures that can be found all across Southeast Asia, but now it’s time to really get to know these elusive creatures.

    We’ve seen a lot of this pretty little bear cub over the last few months, and we’ve been seeing him steadily growing, and indeed out-growing his enclosure, but when he came to BKSDA (that’s the Nature Conservation Agency of Indonesia), having been seized from the illegal wildlife trade, he weighed just 3.1kg. As a cub of approximately 3 months old at the time, he should have still been feeding on his mother’s milk for another month or so, but ultimately spending another 2 years under his mother’s guidance.


    Unfortunately sun bears, like other bears in Asia are poached for their gallbladder and other body parts for ‘medical uses’ although it has been proven to have no medical value at all. More recently, as a ‘cure’ for COVID-19, again, with absolutely no scientific value. Poaching, and the illegal pet trade, along with habitat destruction has led to the classification of sun bears as a species as vulnerable.


    Nursing female sun bears will often be killed and their cubs sold into the pet trade, as happened with Ucok, so BKSDA’s vets had the dilemma of how to feed this poor little baby. Their solution, at least until he had grown a bit, was porridge and goats milk, and he grew well on it, weighing in at 5kg by the beginning of March. An adult sun bear will grow to between 35 – 80kg!

    As he grows, his diet will change. Sun bears eat a diet of fruits, berries, roots, insects, small birds, rodents, lizards and honey, and already at 8 months old Ucok is learning to enjoy solid foods.


    The vets at the BKSDA Wildlife Rescue Center TWA Sibolangit have been doing a great job trying to teach Ucok normal behaviours, however sun bears are nocturnal animals and need to be taught to hunt and be wild by their mums. In the wild they would spend the first 2 years of their life learning from their mother and unlike Borneo which has dedicated sun bear rescue and rehab centres, the BKSDA in Sumatra has none.

    So while his return to the wild looks uncertain for the moment, ISCP, our partners in Indonesia are doing what they can for this inquisitive and mischievous little bear, who may well live for another 24years.

    Our aim is to help ISCP continue to support BKSDA in Ucok’s welfare, like this recent food donation. What better for a growing sun bear than lovely fresh fruit!!!


    Our #GivingTuesdayNow Campaign is still running, and even the smallest donation will mean the world at the receiving end, so take the opportunity now to follow the link below..


    and Help DAD Crush COVID!


    -Tod and Piggy, Presidents, Darwin Animal Doctors


    Weekly Piggy Update:

    “On Thursday last week Piggy had surgery to remove three masses, samples of which have been sent to the lab. We’ve all got our fingers crossed that they’ve removed a large enough margin for the masses to be gone forever.

    He had a drain in his side for a few days so has been rocking his t-shirt look! The drain is now out, but he is scheduled to begin non-intrusive pill-form chemo.

    Despite everything, he’s still smiling and loving every moment of life. He’s still getting all his outdoor time, lots of walkies in his wagon and support and love from all. The vets working with him have been fantastic despite the heavy pressures they are under at the moment. Thank you to everyone for their support!”

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  10. Piggy’s News

    During this week, we’ve had some very sad news. Our very own Piggy had a visit to the oncologist’s late last week, and the results were heart-breaking. His mast cell tumor is back and requires more surgery, and his small cell lymphoma has graduated to intermediary size.

    He is having a surgical consultation to remove his second mast cell tumor, and beginning chemotherapy right after that for his intermediate cell lymphoma. It will also require radiation therapy.

    Despite the bad news, Piggy is, as always, upbeat and in good spirits, and he enjoyed the car trip home from his all-day oncology exam, and the sunset that evening, as he always does.

    Tod and friends are determined to keep fighting for him and keep him happy for as long as possible, the way he inspires children everywhere to keep fighting through their hard times. He’s determined to enjoy every second of the world, and we are all determined to ensure that he can.

    While the news is absolutely devastating, our goal, Piggy’s goal, remains the same: to continue to help communities and animals around the world, through education and our many projects.

    Right now our main campaign is still the COVID-19 campaign, and our #GivingTuesdayNow campaign continues. We still have some time left to reach our goal, that will be matched by GoFundMe if we achieve it, and your support is and will be, greatly appreciated.


    Please join everyone at Darwin Animal Doctors in wishing Tod and Piggy all our love and support at this time! Thank you so much! And stay safe wherever you are.

    -Tod and Piggy, Presidents, Darwin Animal Doctors

    An Extra Cute Piggy image of the week:

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