All Creatures Tame And Wild

Scott Sims’ life is just one exciting adventure after another. He is Kauai’s all-encompassing veterinarian of creatures great and small — whether cherished pets or endangered wildlife; whether they have feathers or fuzz, fins or paws, he is the island’s goto animal healer. One day he might be called to aid abused goats rescued in a raid, and the next he could be swimming with a 9-foot tiger shark on Oahu.

“I enjoy the thrill and challenges of emergency medicine,” says Sims, who owns Pegasus Veterinary Clinic in Kilauea and is on call 24/7 with pet owners, as well as government agencies, including state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It does make for long hours, but I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” he says. “The wildlife is amazing; the animals are so beautiful. It’s quite an honor to be allowed to work on them.”

In fact, his life is so interesting and unique that it recently caught the eye of National Geographic.

The first episode of a new reality show featuring the busy doctor, Aloha Vet, aired March 21 on Nat Geo WILD.

“It’s an odd feeling — a bit of an ego trip,” admits the “Aloha Vet” about his new starring role on TV.

The premiere episode follows Sims as he helps several animals, including flying his own plane (that he built) to Molokai to fix a dog’s broken leg. Exciting adventures like this will continue in upcoming episodes March 28, April 4 and April 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Nat Geo WILD.

“I hope they (viewers) learn a little about what veterinary medicine is all about, what can be done and what some of the limitations are,” says Sims. “I hope it’s fun for people to watch.”

Born in New Jersey and raised in California, Sims grew up around animals and learned to appreciate them at an early age. He had a horseback-riding lesson by the time he was 4, and bought his first horse with his own money at age 7. And he recalls always having a dog or cat in the house.

“I guess I just can’t imagine life without pets,” he says.

So it only makes sense that, as a child, he considered becoming a veterinarian, although he didn’t pursue that passion until later in life. He initially studied mechanical engineering in college, but found he was spending all his free time with animals and the people who love them.

“I have always thought it’s important to do things you love,” he says. “Not only does it make life more fun, but it’s hard to be good at something you’re not passionate about.”

He switched his major to zoology and graduated with a degree in veterinary medicine from University of California at Davis.

“I love helping others and animals. I get a lot of what I call ‘warm fuzzies’ when I save someone’s beloved pet,” Sims says. “Warm fuzzies are a feeling that I get deep inside — you can’t fake them or pretend to get them. They have to be earned.”

Animals obviously bring joy to his heart.

“They’re honest to a fault,” he says. “They show us a lot about ourselves in their reflections.”

He also has great respect for each of their unique abilities.

“I would love to be able to fly like a bird,” muses Sims, who has a parrot named Oliver.

A day in the life of Sims often includes helping birds, including native species such as the Hawaiian duck (koloa). He starts seeing patients by 8 a.m. and doesn’t stop for about 12 hours, six days a week. Though he likes to spend his free time woodworking, horseback riding or flying, he is always on call. But since he loves what he does, it hardly feels like work. One of the only challenging aspects of his job is the paperwork.

“I think I’d rather get my teeth drilled than do paperwork,” he jokes.

Sims, who moved to the island in 2002, isn’t sure what will come of the TV program, which he chose to do as a “life adventure.” But if there is a second season, he hopes to use it as a platform to help establish a nonprofit on Kauai that will allow him to offer a “voluntary payment” vet clinic for his clients.

“Right now, that’s just a pipe dream, as I have to earn a living just like everyone else,” says Sims, who hooked up with Nat Geo WILD through big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. Hamilton’s dog Speedy is one of Sims’ patients.

So far, it’s been an adventure he’s glad he embarked on.

“Let me just say they got pretty lucky in getting some really good cases that just happened to come through the doors while they (Nat Geo WILD) were here,” he reveals.

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