Nigel Taylor - University vet

Nigel Taylor is the University of Exeter Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS) and is responsible for the health and welfare of the animals involved in research at the University of Exeter. We found out more about his role and past career.

What does your role at the University of Exeter typically involve?

I visit the University facilities regularly to monitor the health of Exeter's animals and frequently meet with wildlife research teams in the field.

I am involved in advising the University's researchers in the design of their research projects; my principal role in this is to ensure the animals are affected as little as possible by their participation in research. In line with the 3Rs (reduction, replacement and refinement), I also advise on the numbers of animals to be used in each proposed project, keeping numbers to a minimum and ensuring that each receives the best level of care.

It is a challenging role as the variety of species is wide; ranging from small rodents to basking sharks, and including many types of fish, mammals and birds.

How regularly do you have contact with University researchers and animal staff?

I have regular - sometimes daily - contact with researchers and animal care staff advising on matters of health, welfare and specific technical issues. For each project I form close relationships with as many people as possible, enabling me to assess how effective the University's culture of care is.

I’m frequently asked my opinion of researchers, particularly regarding their empathy for the animals they work with, by our Home Office Inspector.

How has your role at the University changed over the time you’ve been here and how do you envisage our research developing in the future?

Exeter's research activities have increased considerably since I first became NVS fifteen years ago. This has been a challenging experience which I have enjoyed.

Looking forward, the new Living Systems Institute facility will greatly enhance Exeter's research work and I'm looking forward to seeing it open. Wildlife research too will be an area of increasing importance in the future. Perhaps the biggest change in the future will be the major use of fish in research: the University has major strengths in this area which will be interesting to follow.

Can you tell us more about your qualifications and career?

I graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 1977. I then travelled to Ontario Veterinary College, Canada to complete an internship working as part of the equine surgical teams. Like all the interns I rotated through various clinical departments gaining experience in the surgical care of a variety of common species. The surgery department also offered specialist care for the Toronto Zoo where amongst our more challenging anaesthetic subjects were giraffes and zebra!

After subsequent spells in both the UK and Canada, I ran my own veterinary practice in Plymouth for twenty years. My current life as a freelance vet involves working for several practices in and around the South Devon area and I started NVS work (although it wasn't called that) in the early eighties. I was invited to become the University of Exeter's NVS about fifteen years ago.

I have enjoyed a television career as a guest presenter on the BBC’s Saturday Superstore and Going Live!, as well as appearances on This Morning, The Really Useful Show and Animal Hospital Roadshow. I have also written extensively for several magazines and newspapers, and published several books, mainly for children and BBC tie-ins.