BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Dr. Gordon Pirie, long-time veterinarian for BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo and a Baker veterinarian, spoke with WAFB's Donna Britt from his camp in Tunica Hills.
"We're having to live in our camp," Dr. Pirie said. "We got flooded and lost both my office and my home, too. We took a pretty good lick in the flood."
Dr. Pirie is referring to the historic flood last August. For the Piries, recovery has been slow.
Dr. Pirie says he and his family were warned to be careful after hearing horror stories about "bad contractors." He says they hired someone who they've worked with before, as well as acting as their own contractors.
"I can tell you I don't have a future career as a contractor," Dr. Pirie joked.
The Baker City Council honored Dr. Pirie at the end of March for his years of service in the city. Since the Piries lost their office and their home, the doctor has decided to retire.
"To start over at my age is kind of unrealistic," Dr. Pirie said. "So I'm just thinking of helping some younger veterinarians to carry the torch."
Pirie has enjoyed a fascinating career. As a respected veterinarian, he's assisted LSU professor and director of the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine, Dr. David Baker, with multiple Mike the Tigers, the LSU mascot. His 45 years of experience at the zoo helped that happen.
"I've developed specialized knowledge about tigers and elephants so that Dr. Baker and I work together on occasion," said Dr. Pirie.
"For many years Dr. Pirie has been a great friend to Mike the Tiger," Dr. Baker said. "He assisted my predecessor, Dr. W. Sheldon Bivin, with Mikes IV and V, and often assisted me with the care of Mike VI."
In 2007, Dr. Pirie accompanied Dr. Baker to an animal sanctuary in Indiana to examine what was then a two-year-old tiger named Roscoe, who would later become Mike VI.
Dr. Pirie's plans for retirement from his private practice include spending time at his family's beautiful camp in Tunica Hills. They have a small waterfall on their property and the opportunity to fish any time they like. Dr. Pirie says he and his wife, Nanette, will explore.
"One of my biggest concerns going into retirement is being stir-crazy," Dr. Pirie said. "She's a very, very, supportive and resourceful person. We love to travel. That's one thing we've wanted to start doing. Kind of our bucket list."
While Dr. Pirie is retiring from his practice as owner of Baker Animal Hospital, he hopes to help another veterinarian pick up the torch. He says he'll continue working, just not as hectically, keeping his job at the zoo.
"I'll continue to be the zoo veterinarian," Dr. Pirie said. "That's been a real interesting, fascinating, challenging, I have to admit, despairing, job, but it's such a privilege to work with these beautiful animals. It's really been amazing to work with endangered ones, and the zoo does such a good job of working throughout the zoo community to make sure these animals still exist on our earth."
He hopes he's encouraged good veterinarians to step in and take care of the pet needs of Baker.
"The City of Baker is my heart," Dr. Pirie said. "It's been so good to me. My clients were not just someone with a checkbook. These are our friends."