Vet at the End of the Earth is the memoir of Jonathan (aka Joe) Hollins, a British vet who took up an internship in one of the British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic, and somehow kept finding himself offered full-time jobs, switching between the islands of St Helena, Tristan Da Cunha, and the Falklands. With a side trip or two to places like South Georgia and Ascension Island. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for the ARC. I’m going to buy a copy for my vet for Christmas.

vet at the end of the earth

Vet at the End of the Earth: Adventures with Animals in the South Atlantic

by Jonathan Hollins

The role of resident vet in the British Overseas Territories encompasses the complexities of caring for the world’s oldest known living land animal – Jonathan the giant tortoise, 190 years old – and MoD mascots at the Falklands airbase; pursuing mystery creatures and invasive microorganisms; relocating herds of reindeer; and rescuing animals in extraordinary and rugged landscapes.

Witty, warm and beautifully crafted, Jonathan Hollins’s tales of island vetting are not only full of wonderful creatures – they are also steeped in the unique local cultures, history and peoples of the islands, far removed from the hustle of modern life. Discover the Falklands, a sprawling archipelago rich in wildlife and fish; lush St Helena and its cindery sister Ascension; and Tristan da Cunha, a tiny, remote community of 250 people carving out an existence on an active volcano. [goodreads]

My Review

I first ‘discovered’ Tristan Da Cunha when I was in primary school. It was being evacuated because of its erupting volcano. The tiny island, thousands of miles from anywhere else, caught my imagination, as did the fate of the residents. Sixty years on, I get to visit it and the equally legendary (to my mind) St Helena, Ascension and Falkland Islands, courtesy of vet Joe Hollins.

For anyone who enjoys animals, whether pets, wild or livestock, this book is a treasure. The author’s experiences cover an enormous range of events, from midwifery to biohazards. But behind the animal tales are the people of the islands, each very distinctive species in themselves. I began to wonder whether I could cope in the isolation of these places. Of course, they are thriving communities, even though they are small. Everyone works exceptionally hard, with and for each other, as often as not.

The author proves once again that a science background is no barrier to writing wonderful description, and keeping the reader on the edge of the seat. It is both nerve-wracking and uplifting, and I absolutely loved it. Armchair travel at its best!

Book Review | Vet at the End of the Earth

One thought on “Book Review | Vet at the End of the Earth

  • 9 October, 2023 at 11:01 am

    “both nerve-wracking and uplifting” is exactly what I’m looking for in a book right now!

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