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Behind the scenes: The Animal Files

Staff and students at Massey University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital are on their best behaviour as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, pays a visit.

By Emma Rawson
Staff and students at Massey University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital are on their best behaviour as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, pays a visit in this week’s episode of the Prime reality show, The Animal Files. Hospital director Janet Molyneux talks with the Weekly about her brush with royalty last November and what it’s like being thrown into the spotlight.
Hospital director Janet Molyneux talks with the Weekly about her brush with royalty last November.
How did you find filming The Animal Files? Have you had any feedback?
Filming has been fun – well, I think so at least – but the staff and team all seem to have enjoyed it too. It took a little bit of time to get used to [the cameras] and to stop worrying about what we were wearing or how we looked. People here tell me that once they are focused on their case they quickly forget the cameras were even there. Our clients have been great about being filmed and letting us film their pets during what is often a really emotional time for them too.
What is the strangest animal that has come into the hospital?
Most unusual animal is probably a giant turtle, but that’s partly because we all get very used to having unusual creatures like penguins, kiwis, pigs and alpacas in here and we stop thinking they are unusual. The strangest cases we ever treat are probably dogs eating unusual things like socks, underwear, childrens’ toys.
What sort of preparations did you have to do for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s visit?
We had to do lots of cleaning, tidying and security checks. Once we were able to announce the visit was happening, we had to check that our clients were comfortable with the fact they and their pets and animals would be here with a huge number of press and police around them.
You said on the show that in the event of an emergency, you would have to cancel the visit – what sort of event would have caused you to do this?
Clarence House said from the very start that the welfare and care of our patients came first and that we weren’t to let the visit impact their care in
any way. If we had an urgent emergency, such as an animal collapse or an emergency surgery, then we were to focus on that and they would make sure Camilla was safe.
Were you given instructions on royal protocol, how to address her, curtsy etc?
Yes, but it was fairly relaxed, we were to call her Your Royal Highness (because she was here on behalf of the Queen) or Ma’am. Curtsying was optional, but if you chose to, it should be a bop not a full swinging curtsy. Men were to nod their heads rather than bow. They also stressed that people were to enjoy meeting her, have fun and feel free to answer any questions.
How did you find Camilla in person?
Lovely. She was very, very nice and really interested in who we were and what we did. She talked about her own pets (she had just adopted two new Jack Russell’s from an animal shelter in England) and her horses. She stopped to talk to as many people as she could.
Were you nervous about showing her around?
A little bit yes, but only because everyone had worked so hard to get ready for it, and I was worried I would let them down by forgetting to mention something or going the wrong way.
What did she say when she saw the kiwis in the hospital?
I think this was certainly one of the highlights and she really enjoyed helping with the handling and treatment of the kiwi apparently.
The Animal Files
Prime, Thursdays, 8.30pm
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MASSEY UNIVERSITY.
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