Continual professional development - Workshops and courses

Current events and services


ABWAK: Identifying and Supporting

Lameness in Zoo Animals Workshop

Chester Zoo - Monday 13 June 2022


ABWAK are collaborating with Veterinary Physiotherapist Matthew Shackleton to bring you this brilliant workshop kindly hosted by Chester Zoo.  Due to the in depth teaching nature of this workshop, places are limited to a small group and will only be available to ABWAK Professional Members.  It would be suitable for zoo vet nurses for example, as well as curators, team managers and more experienced zookeepers etc. Book early to avoid disappointment.  

Musculoskeletal issues of varying aetiology are a common form of pathology in zoo species, and can be difficult to diagnose and treat in protected-contact animals. Subtle gait changes and lameness (which may indicate early development of pathology) can easily be missed until a more severe chronic condition develops; this is particularly common due to the large number and variety of species often within a Zoo professional’s care. An increasing body of research highlights the importance of a holistic approach to the management and treatment of musculoskeletal and neurological disease; as Zoo professionals we are taught the importance of replicating an animal’s natural habitat and encouraging activity, but often musculoskeletal health is given less consideration.

This workshop will cover multiple taxa (mammals, birds and reptiles), and aims to empower Zoo professionals by helping them to develop the skills to identify early gait changes in the animals in their care. Introductory information will be given on how to minimise or delay the development of musculoskeletal pathology such as osteoarthritis, in conjunction with veterinary treatment. These subjects will be covered using a variety of theoretical and practical tasks to apply skills learnt on the day to real-life case studies in Chester Zoo’s collection.

The workshop will include:

  • The importance of early identification and prevention of musculoskeletal disease

  • Identification of lameness (of varying severity) and compensatory gait/stance changes

  • Monitoring techniques to track lameness e.g., assessing video footage, gait-scoring using evidence-based techniques, assessment of functional tasks, activity budgets

  • The importance of the holistic approach for management and treatment to maintain musculoskeletal health

  • The use of case studies to examine how intervention can prevent worsening of pathology or be used for treatment

Tickets are £40 with lunch and refreshments included.

Grants are available to attend our workshops - log in to the members' area of the website and look for the grants page for application forms.

Bookings will not be confirmed unless online registration is completed and full payment has been made

Tapir gait assessment.jpg

Arthritis workshop - Coming soon!

This course is currently in development, further detail will be published closer to the time

Enrichment workshop - Coming soon!

This course is currently in development, further detail will be published closer to the time

Attendee testimonials


'Grateful to Matthew Shackleton for conducting a knowledgeable series of webinars on veterinary physiotherapy. It was a completely new concept for me to learn and explore.


About the webinars:

1. Being a student of MSc zoo conservation biology, this series helped me understand the various factors that need to be considered while designing an enclosure to avoid lameness and Gait in the captive animals, particularly the heavy-bodied ones.

2. The slides used in the presentation were neat and detailed reflecting the speaker's passion for the subject. He explained every bullet point and example thoroughly (explains why the webinars were fully booked) giving us a deeper insight into veterinary physiotherapy.

3. I wish this subject was a part of our Zoo Conservation unit (opportunity for collaborations Matthew! ) as it covers a major topic about how proper and ethical animal management plays an important role in their overall well being.

I encourage people to attend this webinar if he conducts the same again (I will surely share the link). Matthew Shackleton is a trained professional and also works with the Komodo Survival Program. If you wish to make a donation towards the KSP, then please find the link at the end of this post.


My favorite piece- "Behavioural and environmental interventions".'

- Gargi. R - Conservation researcher