Theatre on Wheels

She was delivered in May this year. For the last six months she has become a familiar sight in the Clarens and Fouriesburg area. Striking white with blue and mauve logos, a great rectangular van with powerful engine that makes her sound like the business, she displays upon her forehead, in understated lines, her unpretentious name. Daisy!


The Cluny Animal Trust Mobile Theatre and Clinic was manufactured by Michael Vermeulen of Centurion Bus Manufacturers. Michael has built a number of similar Mobile Units for the state veterinary sector in accordance with standards set by the South African Veterinary Association. When an anonymous donor provided funding to Cluny Animal Trust specifically for a mobile veterinary unit and Katherine, our veterinarian, approached Michael, he turned a dream into a reality. Not only did he provide a very reduced quote for the job, but during the build he knocked another R120 thousand off the cost. Cluny, being a Non Profit Organisation, would not have managed this without Michael’s generosity.

Mobile Operating Theatre

allhandsWhile there are other NGOs and Public Benefit Organisations in South Africa that own Veterinary Mobile Clinics, Cluny Animal Trust is the only one that owns a Veterinary Mobile Operating Theatre. The Mobile Theatre and Clinic is designed and equipped to facilitate the receiving of animal patients on site, caging them before and after surgery, and carrying out the necessary surgical procedures, all in a controlled and sterile environment.

theatretablesThe theatre has two stainless steel operating tables that are fully adjustable, both in terms of height and angle and, in the case of both tables, the design is such that a ‘gutter’ runs along the middle of the table for the purpose of catching fluids, which are then eliminated by flow into a receptacle below the end of the table.

anaestheticmachFor now the theatre has only one anaesthetic machine. This is a hindrance when there are two vets, as only one can use the anaesthetic machine, while the other must use the intravenous method where the anaesthetic is administered through a vein. This necessitates the presence of a nurse who monitors the level of anaesthesia and might need to ‘top up’ the drug during surgery.

Animal Cages

cliniccagesThere are a total of nine cages in the clinic for animals brought in for surgery – four small, three medium and two large. The two large cages can be divided into two smaller cages when necessary. Each cage has a removable stainless steel tray at its base to catch fluids. All the cages are accessed from inside the clinic, and the two large cages can be accessed from the outside as well.

Most outreach clinics cover an entire day so, once an animal has recovered after its anaesthetic and the owner has taken it, the cage is made ready for the next animal. A large number of animals can thus be processed in one day.

Outside the Clinic

entrancesThe clinic has two entrances, one on the left side and one at the back. Both have metal steps and handrails, which can be stowed away on brackets on the inside when the vehicle is in transit.

awningOn the right hand side of the vehicle is a retractable awning. This is where the Animal Welfare Assistant normally does routine procedures like dipping of dogs. He might also use this area for clients to fill in forms for registration purposes, as the awning provides shelter in all weather. In high winds, however, the awning will automatically retract to avoid damage.

Other Clinic Features

scrubupThe clinic is designed to take care of all requirements. There is a sink where the clinicians can ‘scrub up’. The vehicle has a large tank that holds 250 litres of water, as well as a used water tank. Water is heated by either an electric geyser or a gas geyser. In addition, there is a cubicle with a chemical toilet and hand basin.

clinicadminThere is plenty of storage space in the clinic for veterinary disposables, equipment and drugs, as well as a small fridge that runs on either electricity or battery. The clinic is also equipped with a standard surgical trolley. There is also a large counter where various clinical procedures or administration can be done, and compartments where files, clipboards and paperwork can be stowed.

The Vehicle

clinicgeneratorThe vehicle is a secondhand Nissan UD60 6 tonne truck, with a brand new custom designed back on an extended chassis. Built into the left side just behind the passenger seat is a 6.5 horsepower petrol generator, which stows away into its compartment when not in use. The clinic can operate on either mains electricity or on the generator.

Partnering with Other Animal Welfares

clinicbundusTo date Cluny Animal Trust has used the Mobile Theatre and Clinic in the Fouriesburg, Clarens and Bethlehem areas. However, the Trust plans to partner with other animal welfare organisations further afield to carry out mass sterilization clinics. This will not be done at the cost of Trust funds. The Partner Organisation will be responsible for raising the funds associated with the clinics, to cover the travelling expenses of the vehicle and the veterinary and other costs of the clinic. In this way Cluny Animal Trust will be contributing to a wider animal welfare drive without depleting its funding in the area of its current domicile.

Donors, sponsors, supporters and members of the public who wish to view the Cluny Animal Trust Mobile Theatre and Clinic are always welcome to do so. Please contact us to make an arrangement or, alternatively, come to one of the sites where the vehicle is parked during routine clinics. For more information, please phone Katherine Barker on 0827886287, Jan Sander on 0782462553 or the office on 0582230918.

If you wish to make a donation, please see the details below:

Bank: Standard

Acc No: 035278846

Branch Code: 055 033 (Bethlehem)

Please quote reference: CFRCAT

You can email your proof of payment to .

Article text and photos by Mary Walker

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