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WINNERS 2018

Phil Hamilton

Animal collection ­officer whose specialist ­knowledge of exotic animals sees him travelling nationwide to assist with some hair-raising rescues.

philWhether it’s a cat or an emu, a rabbit or a venomous insect that needs rescuing, Phil is the man for the job.

The Berkshire-based officer is the RSPCA’s national coordinator for exotics. He can often be heard on radio stations talking about the topic, and also gives talks to schools and other organisations – all on top of his usual duties.

More and more exotic animals are being rescued by the RSPCA and there is a shortage of places to house them, so Phil is kept very busy.

He often takes animals home to care for them in his own time until they can be rehomed.

He also takes calls at all hours from people trying to identify rare animals.

His knowledge helps to keep his fellow RSPCA officers and members of the public safe during rescues.

Phil has assisted the police with removing highly venomous spiders from a house, recovered an 8ft boa constrictor from a shed and saved a deer trapped in a drain. More recently, he rescued an emu called Elvis from a back garden in Hampshire. The bird had been bought through eBay and was living with chickens. Phil used a transport box for zoo animals and a horse lorry from an RSPCA equine centre, managing to get Elvis on board without him escaping on to a housing estate.

Thanks to Phil, Elvis is living at a specialist centre in Gloucestershire with a female emu called Cilla. Chief inspector Lewis Taylor, who nominated Phil, said: “His skills and knowledge are matched by no one.

“He really is a specialist in his field and the whole of society benefits greatly from this.

“He always goes above and beyond for the RSPCA, his colleagues and the animals we work hard to protect.

“We are really lucky to have him.”

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