ACRES’s wildlife rescue service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; each second an injured animal does not receive treatment is a wasted one that lowers its chances of survival. To support its round-the-clock operation, Dr Venisri lives on the premises of the rescue centre so that she can administer aid to the animals the moment they are admitted.
The ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre is as rustic as any place in Singapore can get. It is domed by a sky unbroken by buildings, surrounded by an expanse of greenery where the grass sways at waist-level, and enveloped by a constant symphony of birdsong.
20 minutes by foot from the nearest bus stop and a 40-minute journey from the nearest mall, it’s also the last place in which any Singaporean would want to work, let alone live.
But far from the comforts of a typical veterinarian practice and nestled within Singapore’s wilderness, it’s the very place that Dr Venisri wants to be.
“I’ve always wanted to work with wildlife,” Dr Venisri explains. “Dogs and cats have owners: someone who loves them and can provide them with food and shelter. Whereas wild animals don’t have owners. They don’t belong to anyone, so they don’t have anyone to look after them.”
She quickly qualifies her statement: wild animals don’t need humans to look after them. On the contrary, their injuries are mostly inflicted by humans.
Our culpability ranges from the straightforward, like accidentally stepping on a common wolf snake and breaking its spine (seeing a snake wriggle desperately, but helplessly, is one of the many heart-wrenching scenes I witnessed during my visit), to the more long-term devastation of urbanisation and deforestation. For the latter, just think of the increasing number of animals—most of them critically endangered, like the Sunda pangolin, the leopard cat, and the sambar deer—being run over drivers because their habitat is being encroached by the construction of 5 new wildlife parks in Mandai.
Pause for dramatic irony.
This is where ACRES and Dr Venisri come in. Together with the team at ACRES, Dr Venisri rescues and treats as many of the injured animals as she can.
“Being able to help wild animals, regardless of species … for me, and probably all wildlife vets around the world, it feels like we’re making a huge difference for them.”