Vav Simon
(Mhairi Simon)

DC AMC FRCC
Clinical Director

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01983 566009




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Some of Our Success Stories

A Brazilian Tapir's Bathroom Accident


Star of the Month

To let everyone share in our excitement in their improvement, we thought we would highlight some animals’ great progress.

Heidi is an Alpaca

The Old Gentleman

Toby ‘Torpedo Knickers’ Winn

From Rescue to National Competition

Muffin is Walking Again!

He’s Getting Younger!

My Buffalo's Back!

Back In The Show Ring

Over the Moon

Afraid of Water No More!

Back in Perfect Balance

Sadie's Transformation

No Need to Operate Now!

From ‘No Hope’ to Winning!

Missi’s got her Life Back Again!

Life's a Canter for Trampus

A Brazilian Tapir's Bathroom Accident

Football-Mad Fred

But he’s not lame!

Miracle Achieved, 100%!

Nearly Put Down 2 Months Ago!

Mending Mabel

Getting the Measure of Tapeworm

Dedication Makes All the Difference!

Tara's Back-end is Back Again!

Sophie can Stand Again!

Better Than 100%

Lame, constipated, incontinent...

The Tale of the New Wag


Nell is a six-year old Brazilian Tapir (an endangered species) living in a zoo.

She looks like a large pig with dark skin and a long mobile nose. She lives in a muddy pen, with a den which is warm and dark like her native rain forest. Bright sunlight would be blinding, so she can retreat to her den at any time.

Awkward fall

Finishing in her sunken bath one day, she leapt over the sidewall to go back to her hut.

She’d done this many times before, but something went wrong this time. Perhaps she caught a leg on the wall, and twisted her hips. The staff were not at all sure what had happened.

Initially Nell had been unable to walk. Staff had fetched the vet who had prescribed painkillers. He said it was more a problem in her back than her legs.

Since then, Nell had been walking awkwardly with obvious pain. Some of the staff who had horses, recognised it as similar to their horses putting their backs out. The zoo’s owner, who has had chiropractic treatment himself, suggested Vav have a look. However, the vet wanted to continue with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

When Vav was first approached, she asked that the zoo’s vet gave permission before she looked at Nell, as this is a legal requirement in this country. After four months, the problem was still present, and the zoo’s owner insisted that Vav checked Nell’s back, to which the vet agreed.

Thick-skinned creature

Vav found Nell in her den, standing quiet and still. She palpated Nell’s spine with difficulty as the skin on the back of a Tapir is extremely thick. Vav said it was a bit like feeling through a Fireman’s coat!

This is a genetic characteristic to protect Tapirs from predators like jaguars and crocodiles biting them.

With her years of experience, Vav was able to ‘tune in’ and feel the vertebrae, and found quite a number out of alignment. Adjusting thoracic and lumbar vertebrae then led to adjusting the pelvis and the sacro-iliac joint.

As she usually would, Vav then massaged the soft tissue around the areas she had adjusted, to help the muscles and tendons get used to their new positions. Massage also helps blood flow, to carry oxygen to the area, and toxins away. Again, because of the thick skin, this was hard work, but Nell seemed to enjoy it!

Immediately, Nell could walk freely. As she moved around the pen, after the first treatment, Vav could see she was more upright in action and tracking better. But she was still carrying her left hind slightly in toward the centre-line of her body.

Second visit

In the follow-up treatment a week later, Nell was more active, and seemed more comfortable. Staff reported she was moving freely with very little sign of lameness.

Vav found her lying down in her den. The keeper got her up and Vav said “Hello You” and gave her a scratch. She turned her head very slowly – everything Tapirs do seems slow – and examined Vav.

The keeper said “Watch out Vav she is going down”. Vav moved out to the way and was surprised and amused to see her roll onto her back and lift her hind-leg like a Labrador, asking to get its belly scratched. So Vav obliged!

Nell got up and was more willing to join Vav outside for the second treatment. Vav saw that her posture had improved, and the misalignment through her spine was better with only a few adjustments being needed.

After this, Nell was moving about more quickly and freely, with her gait and posture returned pretty much to normal.

Advising prevention

Thinking about Nell’s future to prevent a repeat of this lameness, Vav asked about the design of the pool. Staff said a new pen was being planned and so a truly sunken pool with no walls was a good idea.

Also, it seemed likely that a contributing factor has been the layout of her den. With both the heater and the door at one end of her den, it is likely that she has always lain facing them for the 4 years she has been there.

This asymmetry probably made it more likely for Nellie’s hindleg to suffer. Vav advised that a more symmetrical design in her new den would be better for her health in the long-term.