Browning of British nationality has worked as an animal welfare specialist for Animals Asia in Vietnam for the past eight years.
He currently works with over 600 animals at Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Center, where the majority of animals were rescued from being trafficked. He has also worked as a consultant for many zoos in Vietnam.
On Sept. 6, he was one of 70 individuals who received the “Exemplary Good Deed Award” this year from Hanoi People’s Committee.
At 8 a.m. every day, he does a daily inspection of the pens. There is a constant need for staff to make changes to the animals’ living conditions, diet, and health recovery protocols, among other things, due to the daily influx and egress of animals transferring in and out of the center.
Presently, the center is getting expanded, so cages are being shuffled around and the facility is getting a facelift. Careful consideration will be given to the needs of each individual species when designing each enclosure.
“For example, bears require a semi-wild habitat with a lot of equipment for them to play, and apes require a lot of freedom to roam,” he said.
To accommodate the birds, a makeshift nest is constructed from a variety of branch sizes.
He has assisted in the construction of multi-use cages for housing a wide variety of creatures at once, including but not limited to large squirrels, porcupines, hornbills, pheasants, and peacocks.
He maintains that in order to help animals in captivity or during rescue feel as close to nature as possible, animal welfare experts must have a thorough understanding of the habits and needs of each species to recreate suitable habitats for them. When wild animals are transported to the facility, they will be isolated for 30 days in a special area and housed in the proper enclosure if they are healthy enough.
Browning observes the behavior of a yellow hornbill at the center. This bird has only come to attention in recent years due to increased poaching. The Yellow hornbill is distributed in tropical and subtropical climates in some Southeast Asian countries, India and southern China.
He takes a close look at a critically endangered Vietnamese pond turtle (Annam leaf turtle). In the past, many people used to try to poach these animals because of their high market value (tens of U.S. dollars each).
According to Browning, monitoring humidity levels in the turtle’s environment is crucial and there must be diverse temperature zones within the enclosure, which can be achieved with a combination of a pond, plenty of sunlight, and shaded areas.
He collaborates with veterinarians to treat new animals brought to the center, as many of them have been harmed.
The workplace of the animal welfare department is in a nearly 10-square-meter room.
Browning’s coworker Nguyen Le Thuy Linh said though he specializes in caring for bears, all animals that now come to the center must go through him. She mentioned that he cares deeply about each animal, especially when a new one arrives.
In a typical week, he clocks in between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., but when the animal shelter is busy, he is willing put in the extra hours. He has always been there whenever the National Zoo has needed assistance or an expert opinion.
Every day, he rides a motorbike nearly 50 kilometers from the center of Hanoi to his workplace in outlying Soc Son District, regardless of rain or shine. He’s normally early by half an hour.
When asked about his plans for the future, he indicated he would like to keep working to improve animal welfare in Vietnam.
“It is obvious that the people who strive to protect and care for wildlife in this region are evolving, gaining expertise, and developing a deeper understanding of animals. That is the single most important factor in keeping me here.”
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