TV Real caught up with Australian veterinarian Dr. Chris Brown (Vet Gone Wild) about how his authenticity and love of animals shine through on screen.
Dr. Chris Brown is best known to TV audiences from the series Bondi Vet. He has since built upon his passion for animals and making a difference in their lives with the Animal Planet series Vet Gone Wild. The show takes viewers on an adventure around the world as Dr. Chris helps save and treat creatures in need. He is called upon by animal advocates—from the most remote and exotic locations—to lend his expertise to provide care for a diverse range of species.
TV REAL: How did television first intersect with your career as a veterinarian?
BROWN: It all happened in a bar; just like all good stories, right? [Laughs] I was having a beer after work one night and happened to tell a story to a girl—while we were waiting for our drinks to be served—about a bizarre moment in the clinic that week. Obviously, the story was a little alcohol-assisted (but mostly true) and a guy behind me assumed it was all made up and called me out on being too young to be a vet. I convinced him, then he told me he worked in television and had an idea, and he insisted on me doing a screen test. It’s interesting that being on television was never anything I planned on or factored into my life. I was very happy being a veterinarian, carving out a niche as the guy who you could bring any species of animal to. But TV suddenly gave me the chance to do that on a bigger and more challenging scale.
TV REAL: Bondi Vet was a long-running success. What did you hope to show viewers with that series, and why do you think it was so well received?
BROWN: The whole goal of Bondi Vet was to let people into the crazy life of an on-call vet in one of the most diverse and dynamic parts of Australia. And just like any day in a vet clinic, you find yourself laughing and crying within a few hours. People got a real sense of how authentic it all was and responded to just how invested vets get in their patients. On a daily basis we’re in a battle to make what might be the hardest day of their life just a little bit better and, ultimately, get them home to their loving family.
TV REAL: Tell us about how Vet Gone Wild came about, and what appealed to you about this opportunity.
BROWN: Increasingly in my career, I’ve found that I’m no longer limited to being just a cat guy or a dog guy. I firmly believe that no matter their size or species, every animal deserves a second chance. And through the contacts I’ve made from being a vet for the last 17 years, I’m often the guy brought in to provide that chance. For me, the really heartwarming part of this whole experience is seeing that no matter the continent or the culture, that desire to help out animals in need is universal. It’s a great way to restore your faith in humanity at a time when we really need it.
TV REAL: Why was it important for you to embark on a global mission with this series, helping animals all around the world rather than just focusing on Australia or one particular region?
BROWN: In Australia, we’re certainly lucky to have world-class facilities and people well-trained in veterinary medicine. But in some of the more remote corners of the globe, they’re not so lucky. Yet it’s in these places that animals are most in need of help. Through the show, we’re able to shine a light on these often incredibly beautiful and remarkably fragile places (hopefully) before it’s too late.
TV REAL: You’ve become a TV personality in your own right; what do you think it is about your particular brand of hosting/presenting that has struck a chord with audiences worldwide?
BROWN: To be honest, I’ve never really thought about why it works in case it changes something and I ruin it all! But seriously, I’ve never been trained to host, so I’m just being the real me and trying to let people into my take on the world. And I’m always determined to have some fun along the way. I have a shorter attention span than most of my animal patients, so I like to keep it interesting for your sake…and mine!
TV REAL: While TV has certainly become a big part of your life, is it the animals that will always come first?
BROWN: My love and passion for animals is what got me into TV, so I always like to bring it back to my hairy friends. I feel like I owe them for that. Plus, being a vet grounds me like nothing else in my life. If I ever feel like I’m getting distracted, you know there’s always a spectacular splashing of some kind of animal excretion to bring [me] back to Earth! The animal world is good like that; you can always rely on bodily fluids being a big part of your day [laughs].
TV REAL: What’s next for you? Anything that you’d like to accomplish but haven’t just yet?
BROWN: I’m currently on my way to the airport and the fact that I’ll probably be invited to Christmas lunch by the guys that work the X-ray scanner says how much traveling I’m doing right now [laughs]. But there’s always another challenge and another species of animal that needs some sort of helping hand. If I’ve got a side hustle, I’m a passionate surfer and would love to surf a wave inside both the Arctic and Antarctic circles. It’s a bit of a crazy dream, involving a crazily thick wetsuit, but I’m determined to do it.