A rehabilitation and physiotherapy company with a comprehensive approach to health for all species
'To deliver a personal approach for every animal, owner/professional and environment, as no two patients are ever alike.'
To provide a thorough assessment of the patient's activity levels, lifestyle and behavioural enrichment, as well as their musculoskeletal and neurological health.
To assess all environmental factors, to tailor a unique rehabilitation/prevention plan, to suit the animal's environment, management and owner lifestyle.
Experience and qualifications:
PGDip in Veterinary Physiotherapy from the University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Science, PGCert Veterinary Science and Conservation, and BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Zoo Management
Regular guest speaker at a variety of veterinary and zoological conferences e.g. British Veterinary Zoological Society
Seven years' experience teaching animal sciences at college and University level – at a leading land-based institute
Over a decade's experience working with zoo animals, horses, dogs and livestock
Fully insured and registered by the Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists to treat both exotic and domestic species
Specialist areas of interest:
How behaviour and its management can affect pain and healing
How environmental parameters can affect the musculoskeletal health of reptiles, birds and mammals and their rehabilitation
I am registered with the following professional bodies that promote a high standard of professionalism and strive for a scientific approach to assessment and treatment. I am also a member of a variety of professional bodies within the zoo industry.
My name is Matthew Shackleton, and I am a qualified Veterinary Physiotherapist, lecturer and ex-zookeeper. I qualified as a Veterinary Physiotherapist at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham and was fortunate to learn from the School’s pathologist, neurologist, and physiotherapists (both human and veterinary). Prior to this, I studied undergraduate and post graduate degrees in animal behaviour and zoo animal management, and in Veterinary Medicine & Conservation, which looked at the application of veterinary care in the conservation field.
As well as working in keeping roles, I have over seven years' experience teaching animal sciences to both college and university level, covering a variety of subjects such as behaviour, management, adaptations, taxonomy, anatomy and physiology, and rehabilitation. I have also been lucky enough to teach a variety of zoo management students who have gone on to work in zoos around the UK.
During my career I have worked with a variety of taxa (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish), and my interests in behaviour, management, and training have followed me into my physiotherapy/rehabilitation work; I have come to believe that rehabilitation is being under or incorrectly utilised in the zoological industry. While physiotherapy is a staple of human medicine, it is a growing industry in the veterinary world (and is often misunderstood), as most therapists have a domestic or human background. The understanding of behaviour, training/protected contact protocols, species-specific adaptations and environmental parameters are often overlooked, and a ‘hands on’ approach is predominantly used with species that are highly susceptible to stress, are too big, or are simply dangerous.
I am currently completing research with the University of Nottingham (with support from biomechanics experts at the Royal Veterinary College and University of Manchester), which aims to quantify and describe normal and abnormal locomotion of Komodo dragons. By collecting video data of captive dragons (at six UK collections), and using wild footage as a comparison, this will help me to better understand ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ locomotion, and develop a lameness scale such as the one currently used for domestic species. It is hoped that it will be usable by veterinary and keeping staff working with heavy-bodied lizards. I will also be collecting qualitative date regarding their management, health and activity to look for trends in lameness/health of individuals.
I also very recently hosted a webinar on Lameness, predisposing factors and its management, which was attended by over 300 professionals from all over the world (vets, vet nurses, technicians, keepers and physiotherapists). We were able to raise £250 for the Komodo Survival Program (a research and conservation organisation in Indonesia), who have been a great help in my research. I was subsequently invited to present at the BVZS (British Veterinary Zoological Society) annual conference, talking about how management can be most be protective and a risk factor for lameness, and how environmental and behavioural management can be utilised to facilitate rehabilitation. Since this time I have spoken at a variety of veterinary and zoological conferences, universities and colleges.