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Les StockerThe call of the wild

Published in 1990clockTime to read: 55s
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After rescuing his first injured hedgehog in the 1970s, English accountant Les Stocker, transformed his veterinary hobby into a world famous wildlife teaching hospital.

locationUnited Kingdom

By any measure, Les Stocker led a remarkable life. With no veterinary qualifications, he won respect globally during his 40 years as a leading authority on wildlife care. Stocker died in July 2016.

An animal will fight for life, if you give it a chance. It’s the same as with a human casualty. And when you see the bird or animal go off into the wild when it’s better, you feel as if you’ve really achieved something.

The former accountant founded St Tiggywinkles in Buckinghamshire in 1983, the country’s first wildlife hospital, and championed new approaches to caring for injured and sick animals from the wild. When he started out in the late 1970s – in his spare time in a garden shed – it was common practice to euthanize an injured wild animal.

Stocker devoted his life to research and rescue, inventing methods to treat a range of animals, from badgers to toads and kestrels. He wrote 14 veterinary books that are used worldwide, and hired professional staff to perform operations he was not able to do, because of his lack of official qualifications. Since receiving a Rolex Award in 1990, which he says cemented his credibility, his Hospital Wildlife Trust has received more than a million phone calls from all around the world asking for advice.

Recognized as an expert on first aid and rehabilitation of wild animals, Stocker was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to wildlife, and named by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as an honorary associate in 2002.

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