29 November 2022

Meet Aleen


by Philip M.

29 November 2022

Meet Aleen (formerly 'Biter'). During the winter of 2021, seven sub-adult eagles were translocated by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project working with Dave and Graeme Anderson in an effort to support the growing population in the south of the country.

One of these birds, originally nicknamed ‘Biter’, due to her feisty nature and ability to nip even the most experienced of handlers with her beak during tagging and vet checks, has been adopted and named by students of the The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh.

We are delighted to report that Aleen is thriving; travelling far and wide across southern skies.

Neil Anderson, who has assisted the project since 2018 said:

‘I asked our undergraduate students and students on our Conservation Medicine MVetSci for name suggestions for ‘Biter’. Along with a couple of our students with an interest in raptors we have selected our preferred name for her. The preferred name is ‘Aleen’, named after Aleen Cust, who was the first female vet to be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, back in 1922.

She faced quite a battle to be allowed to train and get registered so it suits a spirited female eagle. I like the name as she trained in Edinburgh (although it was not at the Dick Vet but a rival school set up by one of our graduates which was later moved to Liverpool) and it might help to highlight the veterinary role in conservation and the prominent role that women now play in the profession.’

Aleen Cust became the first registered female vet in 1922, following the ‘Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919, that opened up professions such as veterinarian, law and accountancy to all qualified candidates. Despite qualifying in 1897, she was not allowed to practice until 25 years later. Her determination paved the way for other women to join the profession and the 23rd December 2019 marked the 100-year anniversary of female veterinarians and celebrated the importance of Aleen’s contribution to the modern-day practice.

Gidona Goodmam, a vet who also assists the project said:

‘It must have been hard for Aleen back in the early days but it is wonderful to recognise that gender is no longer an obstacle in the profession and to thank Aleen for forging the path for female vets everywhere.’

Gidona Goodman checking Skan C17 prior to release in 2019.