Wilderness VetSpring 2017 Television
Brutal conditions in the Yukon take their toll on the animals that inhabit the region and it's up to veterinarian Dr. Michelle Oakley, a.k.a. the "Wilderness vet," to treat them. Airing on NBC's Saturday morning lineup, this family-friendly nature/science program follows Dr. Oakley to homes, farms, and wildlife preserves as she treats animals ranging from grizzly bears to caribou to wolf puppies and lynx kittens. Expert videography provides plenty of satisfying views of the featured animals and additional text-on-screen graphic elements provide additional wildlife and nature facts.
In "A ZOO-pendous Trip," the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage presents its share of challenges for the vet. First, she helps to sedate a couple of grizzly bears, a specialized skill requiring great aim with a dart gun. Then, it's emergency care for a moose calf found in the wild in critical condition and the sequence follows, step-by-step, Dr. Oakley's attempts to bring the calf back from the brink of death. Then, she treats a snow leopard with a nasty cough, and later, she meets a litter of abandoned wolf pups rescued from a fire.
Teens who aspire to work with animals can enjoy a virtual "job-shadow" of sorts in the episode titled "Dr. Oakley Junior." On "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day," Dr. Oakley takes her daughter with her on a trip to Alberta, Canada, treating animals in the wild and also at a wildlife park. They visit a temperamental jaguar in need of a vaccine; a cheetah recovering from emergency surgery; an orphaned bear with a raspy lung; and later, they hike into the mountains to collect samples from bighorn sheep.
This program is recommended for teens and adults and while none of the veterinary information presented is overly complex, some of the video shows vet procedures that could prove too much for those who are squeamish. In addition, stories usually result in positive tales of treatment, rescue, or rehabilitation but not all stories have happy endings. Each tale is told with sensitivity but families should be prepared to discuss the harsher outcomes with sensitive children.
This program could benefit from less narration and longer soundbites from Dr. Oakley but overall, the storytelling stays true to Dr. Oakley's vet procedures without resorting to melodrama. Animal lovers and nature enthusiasts alike will be interested and informed.