There are many ways in which converted shipping containers have found completely new uses, but few could be quite so exotic as making it a place for the treatment of some very novel animals.

This is the plan for an upmarket veterinary surgery, which has plans to use five containers situated at Fife Zoo, Fife Today reports.

Exotic Vets Ltd is seeking planning permission for the first phase of a new practice that would be based at the zoo, with two vets working in the converted container site for two years.

This would enable them to get up and running before expanding in phase 2, which would see them move into a purpose-built 5,000 sq ft, two-storey building with six vets at work.

Under the container plan, five would be used, with one for the reception area and consultation room, the second a staff room and a second consultation room, with a dedicated surgery unit in the third and the others being used for treatment, surgery prep and scans including X-rays and ultrasound.

Running 24 hours a day, the service will partly function as a means of treating the zoo’s animals, but will also serve members of the public with unusual pets, as the practitioners will be used to dealing with the medical issues of exotic animals.

The planning paper for the firm said: “The proposal is to run a 24-hour specialist veterinary service for exotic and zoo species. This covers all small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, zoological species and wildlife.”

It added: “It is intended to be able to offer general practice and referral clinical services on-site with radiography, ultrasound, anaesthesia, endoscopy (including laparoscopy), surgery, laboratory services and hospitalisation of patients.”

The idea of some Steve Irwin-type figure leading a crocodile into a shipping container to get surgery for some jabs may seem amusing, but veterinary science is a serious business, especially in zoos where often the animals involved are rare and endangered and their health can be vital to ensuring the presence of breeding stock.

Based at Ladybank near Cupar, Fife Zoo is small and only has 15 species of animal so far, although it has plans to expand this. There are no crocodiles yet, but reptiles include snakes and tortoises, while the menagerie also incorporates various bird species, zebras, primates, armadillos, porcupines, meerkats and beetles.

Having extensive facilities on the site to meet the medical needs of all sorts of animals may make it easier to expand the range of animals at the zoo, all of which may get up and running much more easily thanks to the novel use of shipping containers.

Making a success of a zoo is not always easy and location is far from everything; Edinburgh still has a zoo of its own, but Glasgow, despite being Scotland’s largest city, saw its zoo close in 2003 after operating for 56 years.

Glasgow closed because it was struggling with deep debts. For a zoo to flourish and grow, therefore, may require some creative solutions and innovations. The use of used shipping containers to house its vets and add a private practice may be just the way to do this in Fife.

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