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Exotics expert to treat everything from snakes to salamanders at new hospital

A VET who has treated everything from fruit bats to frogs, and cockatoos to caimans, will lead the avian and exotic service at the new Valley Veterinary Hospital. 

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Tending to exotic animals comes naturally to Tariq Abou-Zahr as they have been a major part of his life ever since he was a child.

Now, as a certificate holder in zoological medicine, Tariq has the enviable task of developing the avian and exotic service at the Valley Veterinary Hospital – a brand new £2 million facility opening in Gwaelod y Garth near Cardiff.


Opening in July 2019, an empty warehouse has been expertly transformed by Valley Vets into a two-storey veterinary hospital, providing 24-hour care, seven days a week.

During his career, Tariq has treated a wide variety of species including parrots, birds of prey, lizards, snakes, tortoises, rabbits, guinea pigs, small rodents and monkeys.

He said: “It is fantastic to have a dedicated, state-of-the art clinic just for avian and exotic patients within a multidisciplinary hospital in Cardiff.

“Few such facilities exist in the United Kingdom and it’s great to have one in the capital of Wales.

“I love the variety that comes with exotics. I’ve performed some unusual surgery in my career, including removing a tumour from a goldfish and extracting pieces of metal from the stomach of a bird.”

Exotics is a relatively up and coming discipline within the veterinary profession and our collective knowledge about exotic animal medicine and surgery continues to develop.

“With parrots, for example, an African Grey and an Amazon parrot are as different as a cat and a dog – which will come as a surprise to some.”

Valley Veterinary Hospital boasts ten consult rooms, six operating theatres, a hydrotherapy unit, a physiotherapy service, dental suite, CT scanner, ultrasound, diagnostic endoscopy, keyhole surgery and two x-ray suites.

Tariq added: “With these new facilities, we’ll be able to offer a very high standard of care by completely separating our exotic patients from our cats and our dogs.

“There are dedicated ward areas in the hospital with superb features. For example, we have moulded, plastic vivariums for our reptile patients with thermostatically controlled heating and full spectrum UVB lighting. This provides these animals with a very comfortable environment.”

Valley Veterinary Hospital will welcome first opinion cases as well as referrals from other veterinary practices.