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Ambassadors - Chantal Whitten

We are very happy to welcome Dr Chantal Whitten as an Ambassador to OFI Australia. In December 2023, Dr Chantal Whitten, together with Dr Larry Vogelnest, volunteered her time to spend a week in Borneo at OFI’s Care Centre & Quarantine facility with the OFI veterinary team training them in dental care and the diagnosis and management of dental disease.

After an incredibly successful week, OFI’s vet team are now equipped with new skills and the confidence to perform dental examination and treatment, ensuring good oral health for the orangutans in our care. We can’t thank Dr Chantal enough for her help and expertise and look forward to many more future collaborations.

In Chantal’s own words …”It was such a privilege to be invited to become an Ambassador for OFI Australia. As a zoo and wildlife veterinarian I have worked with all species of great Apes in zoos, and I am committed to the health, welfare, and conservation of these incredible animals. There is nothing better than being able to use my skills as a vet to mentor and train colleagues in veterinary procedures that enable great welfare outcomes for animals in our care.

Ambassadors - Dr Chantal

In 2014 I spent some time in East Kalimantan, Borneo. It is here that I first assisted with dental procedures for Orangutans and medical procedures involving Sun Bears.

In December 2023, through generous donations from OFI Australia supporters, I again visited Borneo to spend time at OFI’s Care Centre & Quarantine, as part of a veterinary team, to train the OFI vets in diagnosing and treating dental problems in Orangutans.

This was a humbling and very successful trip. The OFI vets were enabled with the skills to use specialist veterinary equipment such as dental x-ray and extraction tools. They quickly became adept at being able to diagnose dental issues and we collectively came up with treatment and husbandry plans to reduce the incidence of dental disorders moving forward. This was collaboration through conservation at its best.”

Dr Chantal currently works as Senior Veterinarian at The Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital in Australia. Her career with wildlife started as a zookeeper at Taronga Zoo in the early 1990’s in the bird department. A highlight was being part of the team that collected Regent Honeyeater nestlings from the wild, hand raising them to become the founder group for the current Regent Honeyeater Recovery Program. She did a 12-month sabbatical at Healesville Sanctuary and spent time working with the Helmeted Honeyeater in situ and ex situ facilities and the Orange Bellied Parrot first ex situ facility. She assisted in establishing husbandry and breeding protocols and nutritional management.

Chantal Whitten

As a mature age student, Chantal graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 2000. She worked at the Lort Smith Animal Hospital for a stint and then travelled to the UK and worked for 3 years in small animal practice.

Arriving back in Australia in 2004, Chantal worked for 3 years at the Beaumaris Veterinary Hospital before heading back to NSW to work at South Nowra Veterinary Hospital. Here she started to work more with wildlife and exotic pets. During this time, she completed a Master of Wildlife Health and Population Management at the University of Sydney.

In 2016 Chantal started a position as Senior Veterinarian at Mogo Zoo (now Mogo Wildlife Park). In 2020 she established a mobile veterinary service At Home Veterinary Care and WildVets Zoo and Wildlife Consultancy. During this time, she was contracted to Sydney Zoo as Manager of Veterinary Services.

Dr Chantal is passionate about wildlife medicine and about the plight of so many of our Australian native species due to loss of habitat and climate change. She feels very fortunate to be part of the veterinary team at Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, working to save our species and rehabilitate them with the help of the amazing wildlife carers of Northern NSW.

Chantal Whitten & Larry Vogelnest with OFI vet team