How Dr Chris Brown Spends His Days Off (And Why He Always Packs Calvin Klein Obsession)
While he and ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ co-host Julia Morris work around the clock coming up with new ways to torment celebs in camp, Dr. Chris Brown’s days off aren’t that much more relaxing.
“My attitude has always been yeah, I’m here to work on the show but on my days off I work with local vets and do vet work,” Chris told 10 daily.
“It’s so different from what I do on the show that it doesn’t necessarily feel like work... It’s what I love, it’s what I trained to do.
“I remember being in vet school and my dream was always to work with big animals and wildlife, and I’ve managed to land myself -- through a twist of fate -- in the heartland of that very thing.”
Over the past six seasons, word has gotten out about the visiting vet, and he’s built up his local connections when he’s in South Africa reaching out and offering his assistance.
“I’m 100kgs so I’m probably quite handy as either bait or just to hold an animal down,” he joked.
One of the most common questions Chris gets is how does he know how to treat so many different animals -- from rhinos to giraffes, kudu to lions -- they’re not the usual fare wandering around New South Wales.
“Even though they look remarkably different, and these are some of the biggest, strongest and potentially the most terrifying animals on the planet, they’re not that different to what I trained on,” he said.
“An elephant is just a cow with a really long nose, a lion is genuinely a really big moggie cat! The drugs you use to sedate them, to handle them, are no different. It’s just that they can get affected by certain diseases and conditions that your average housecat or cow doesn’t get. You just have to know those things.
“In my spare time over the last few years, I’ve done all my darting training courses so I can tranquilize dart animals and co-hosts,” Chris added.
It isn’t just a shift in the animals the vet is working with, but the context in which his help is needed. Poaching is still a huge issue across South Africa, with almost every animal at risk of poaching.
“Even lions are hunted and killed for their body parts which are used in witchcraft. That’s not the sort of thing you get in Bondi. It’s a real eye-opener.”
Poaching isn’t just a risk for animals, but also those that dedicate their lives to protect them.
“Local vets are faced with the daily prospect that they may encounter poachers who work in teams of four, and one of them has an AK-47 and is ready to kill,” Chris said. “You go into any vet job not with a fear of being scratched or being bitten, your biggest danger comes from… people.”
“That’s an incredibly humbling experience to be around people who put their lives on the line for the sake of a species. It’s quite remarkable and really empowers you to want to do more and to raise more awareness of the challenges that our African animals face.”
Packing for his time over in South Africa, Chris admitted his suitcase looked a little ridiculous filling it with essentials like tea, chocolate, gym equipment, books on sedating African wild animals and Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. And no, the scent isn’t his.
When trying to work with injured lions or leopards, Chris explained that you have to ‘trap’ them in order to treat them.
“It’s hard, leopards and lions are very suspicious of anything that smells human so they won’t approach any trap. They’ve got one weakness: Calvin Klein Obsession for Men”.
Apparently the fragrance mimics a sex pheromone in the species. How this was discovered still remains a mystery.
“I was in Namibia working with cheetah down there, it works on them as well. One of the vets was like, ‘Watch this’ and pulled out a bottle of cologne. I was like mate, now’s not the time. He sprayed it and they lost their minds for it.”
Similar to catnip, the scent smells like an animal is on heat and has been marking.
“Necessity is the mother of invention, people come up with very, very strange things,” the vet added.
Sharing a lot of his adventures on social media, raising awareness for the plight of many animals he encounters, Chris said it’s a dream come true to be doing what he does.
“There’s this moment -- it’s hours and hours of prep and then it’s like three minutes of madness.
“The moment when the dart goes in and you slowly approach the animal, trying to work out whether it’s asleep or not, and you have to do your procedure quickly, reverse it and wake it up,” he said.
“In those three minutes of madness, there’s always this amazing moment -- the last five seconds -- where you stop, look and go holy sh*t. There’s a freaking lion 10 centimeters away from my face, or a kudu with horns as long as I am tall, or a rhino breathing on me. And you go… this is the best job in the world.”