Pets in safe hands
Chris Brown has a soft spot for pelicans - even though one pooped on him and gave him lice after being rescued in the preview episode of Bondi Vet.
"The Brown family has a very interesting history with pelicans," he said by phone from Sydney recently.
"My dad is a vet and became very famous for a week in the 1980s because someone brought in a pelican that had its beak shot off by a fisherman.
"The pelican was meant to be put down and dad said 'no, don't put it down - I am going to give it a chance'.
"So he spoke to one of the local surfboard manufacturers in Newcastle and together they made a prosthetic beak out of fibreglass for the pelican.
"My first childhood memories are of Percy the pelican. We had him for about a year so I grew up around this pelican.
"They are my favourite bird, they are so full of personality, they are funny and they are quite cheeky."
The second series of Bondi Vet comprises 16 episodes and took eight months to shoot.
Each episode features Dr Brown attending to two patients and Dr Lisa Chimes working on one.
"There have been plenty of late nights and sleepless nights and hard work but we're happy with it, which is the most important thing," said Brown, who is back to working three days a week as a vet.
"When we shoot the show, it's seven days a week for seven months," he said.
This year Brown has also become a regular weekly panellist on Ten's The 7pm Project. and recently travelled to the Gulf of Mexico to report on the oil spill and help rescue birds - including pelicans.
"I have enjoyed the new challenges of doing news and current affairs and fitting in with those guys at 7pm.
"It's a nice contrast from what I otherwise do," he said.
In this week's episode, Brown heads to the Australian Reptile Park to find out why the 100kg reticulated python Atomic Betty has gone off her food.
Was this visit done just especially for the series or does he usually work there?
"There is another vet, it just depends on the day. I guess, because I am on call so much, if it is ever a weekend or after hours they know they can get me," he said.
"It is a call I take tentatively.
"The guys up there have a really good sense of humour and they like to see me squirm. It's a call I dread in a way."
We also meet devoted dog-owners Genevieve and Hilary, whose Pomeranian Marie has her own Facebook page and Twitter account.
Marie ends up in Brown's care after accidentally eating part of a bikini.
"I honestly didn't know what to make of those girls when they first came in," said Brown.
"I thought possibly someone had set it up as a joke because they were hilarious like a comedy act. Then you realise, they're serious and this dog is quite seriously ill. It didn't take long to work that out.
"It was this bizarre mix of comedy and medical emergency I have never had to deal with before and thankfully it worked out."
Brown says not all clients are so amusing and he is troubled when he sees welfare cases and issues of uncontrolled breeding.
"People imagine breeding a dog is going to be cute and going to be fun and a lot of people think it is what these pets need, which is so far from the truth," he said.
"They should just leave it to the experts and not do it themselves. It's a disaster waiting to happen."
Other highlights from the series include Brown visiting his brother in Fiji to help animals after a cyclone and an encounter with Miss Piggy - a 200kg, aggressive, man-hating pig.
Brown, who tries to start each day with a spot of surfing at Bondi Beach, is the partner of Perth-raised Packed to the Rafters actor Zoe Ventoura. He enjoys visiting WA and plans to return for next year's Rottnest Channel Swim.
'I have enjoyed the new challenges of doing news and current affairs and fitting in with those guys at 7pm. It's a nice contrast from what I otherwise do.'
Bondi Vet airs Thursday at 7.30pm on Ten