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7-8 June 2019, Loseley Park, Surrey


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Neil Forbes

BVetMed DipECZM(avian) FRCVS
RCVS and European Recognised Specialist Avian Medicine
Photo of Neil Forbes

Neil qualified from RVC in 1983.  He is a Diplomate of the European College of Zoological Medicine, Specialist in Avian Medicine and an FRCVS. Neil was responsible for teaching avian medicine at Bristol Vet School from 2001 to 2011. 

Neil has lectured internationally for many years, has contributed to more than sixty-five peer review papers and to more than thirty-seven books.  Neil has received multiple national and international awards.  Neil is a past President of both, The European College of Zoological Medicine and The European Board of Specialisation. 

Neil headed up Great Western Exotic Vets (part of the Vets Now group) in Swindon, from 2004 to 2017.  He now consults part-time at Fitzpatrick Referrals and is otherwise occupied with voluntary conservation work with critically endangered Vultures (, lecturing, and managing other consultancy instructions. 

Please can you tell me a bit about yourself? 

I graduated from RCV in 1983, and after 18 months in a rural Yorkshire Dales practice, I moved to Stroud in Gloucestershire because it was close to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the International Centre for Birds of Prey, respectively the largest collections of waterfowl and birds of prey in Europe. I became an RCVS Recognised Specialist in 1992, FRCVS in 1995 and European Diplomate in 1996. I set up and ran the only ECZM Avian Residency program in the UK from 1998 - 2017. I am married to an exotic vet nurse called Karen, better known as Homer and we have two daughters and one granddaughter. I have now left full-time clinical referral service, spending most of my time on the conservation of endangered and critically endangered vultures in Africa.

Did anyone or anything, in particular, inspire you to specialise in avian medicine?

My Grandfather (Bill Ruttledge) was a famous falconer and a personal friend of Professor John Cooper. Through this connection, John became my inspiration and mentor.

What do you find most interesting?

Over 9000 avian species varying in size, origin, diet, a method of ambulation, a young science, where new diseases and treatments are still being regularly discovered.

What do you think the future holds for avian medicine?

Looking after our environment and the birds and beasts in it are going to become increasingly challenging and important. Having tried for several decades to teach more general practitioners to look after birds better, I am now of the opinion that just as equine, farm and small animal vets are recognised in the UK, so to should 'exotic animal vets' be recognised. Birds and all exotics deserve just the same level of care as cats and dogs, and generally speaking for all too long this has not be provided.

What attracts you to coming to lecture at VET Festival?

I have heard that it is a great event and wonderful CPD opportunity. I respect Professor Fitzpatrick and all that he has achieved and am delighted to be involved in the festival. Wherever I can, I accept opportunities to spread learning about the weird and wonderful 'exotic' pets, in the hope of improving their care.

What are you hoping that delegates will take away from your lectures?

How to treat exotic pets better.

Why is it so important for them to attend? 

None of us are too old or experienced to learn, I still suspect that too many experienced clinicians do not focus CPD hours on the areas which they know the least about, perhaps rather focusing on their areas of enthusiasm and where they can maximise their revenue stream.

Neil Forbes is speaking at the following sessions

09.45 - 10.30
Exotics & Behaviour
10.40 - 11.25
Exotics & Behaviour
12.30 - 13.15
Exotics & Behaviour
13.25 - 14.10
Exotics & Behaviour



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