Dr Matt Hartley

Visiting Lecturer in Animal Biology

I am a wildlife veterinarian and conservation scientist focusing on the health and welfare of animals for conservation breeding, planning and implementation of conservation interventions and the effects of disease on wildlife populations.


  • Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetMed) Royal Veterinary College, University of London
  • Masters of Applied Science (MApplSc) Wildlife Health and Population Management, University of Sydney
  • Certificate in Zoological Medicine, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • Chartered Biologist and Member, Royal Society of Biology


I have worked in zoos and with wildlife for over twenty years starting as a volunteer keeper at London Zoo whilst undertaking my veterinary degree at the Royal Veterinary College.

On graduation in 1998 I worked as a clinical zoo veterinarian at Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park.

In 2001 I started a Masters degree in Wildlife Health and Population Management at the University of Sydney. My research project focused on infectious diseases in free ranging wombats. I passed with distinction and stayed on to teach the Ex-Situ Wildlife Management Module for the university. During my time in Australia I also worked on field projects with echidna and platypus and worked at a koala hospital.

Following this degree I moved continents to South Africa where I became Manager of Veterinary Services at Johannesburg Zoo. With my team, I provided veterinary health care for a number of conservation projects including wattled crane and vultures and participated in field research on mongoose, meerkats, crocodiles, rhinos and primates

In 2005 I finally returned home and was appointed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as the UK’s first Wildlife Veterinary Adviser. In this role I was responsible for developing policy on all aspects of wildlife health, providing expertise and advice across government and developing the England Wildlife Health Strategy. Other key achievements include establishing the GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership, contributing to disease control strategies for notifiable diseases in feral boar, rabies in wildlife and avian influenza.

I left Defra in 2011 to return to my passion – zoological, wildlife and conservation science and management and founded Zoo and Wildlife Solutions Ltd – a consultancy service to zoos and conservation organisations. I now offer this consultancy through the University of Chester.

I joined the University of Chester in September 2015. 


  • IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist
  • IUCN Wildlife health Specialist
  • IUCN Tapir Specialist
  • Defra Appointed Zoo Inspector
  • Defra Appointed Circus Inspector
  • Defra Appointed Member of UK Elephant Welfare Group
  • Eire Appointed Zoo Inspector
  • European Endangered Species Programme Manager – Eld’s Deer
  • European Endangered Species Programme Manager – De Brazza Monkey


I provide a unique consultancy combining technical veterinary and scientific expertise with managerial, policy and advocacy skills to offer a diverse range of services in the zoological, conservation and wildlife health field.

I offer zoo management and curatorial services including collection planning and enclosure design. I have particular interest and expertise in conservation strategy development and implementation, evidence-based decision making and risk assessment and animal welfare assessment and auditing and health and safety in zoos.

Clients include Zoological Society of London, Chester Zoo, Twycross Zoo, Longleat Safari Park, Marwell Wildlife, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (Paignton Zoo), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria.


I teach on a number of modules in the Biology, Animal Behaviour and Welfare and Conservation Biology programmes. I am involved in the development of the new Bioveterinary Science programme.


My research interests focus on three key areas:

 1.    Evidence-based decision-making in zoo animal management in order to improve welfare, conservation breeding and captive management. Including health and disease management, reproduction and social behaviour management. I focus on using risk assessment techniques when evidence is lacking.

 2.    Conservation interventions – planning and implementation of conservation breeding, re-introductions, translocations and population manipulation, especially the impacts of disease on the focus species and the ecosystem.

3.   Field research of threatened species to inform intensive conservation actions – this includes ecology, habitat usage, behaviour, population monitoring and distribution and assessing human-wildlife conflicts. 

4. Wildlife health and disease ecology at a population level. 

Email me for further information.

Research Opportunities:


Published work

Hartley M & Stanley C R (2016) Survey of reproduction and calf rearing in Asian and African elephants in European zoos. J. Zoo and Aquarium Research 4(3) 139-146. 

Hartley M & Roberts H (2015) Disease risk analysis – A tool for policy making when evidence is lacking: Import of rabies-susceptible zoo mammals as a model. J. Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 46(3) 540-546.

Hartley M, Grove D, Lewis M, Beeston D & P Stewart (2014) Risk based testing for Mycobacterium bovis  following a clinical case in a zoological garden. J. Zoo and Aquarium Research 2(1) 14-17. 

Hartley M & Schmidt F (2013) Use of Risk Assessment Methodology to Support Evidence Based Decision Making in Zoo Disease Management – Using SIV in De Brazza Monkeys as a Model. J Zoo and Aquarium Research. 1(2) 85-90. 

Del Rio Vilas VJ, Voller F, Montibeller G, Franco LA, Sribhashyam S, Watson E, Hartley M, Gibbens JC. (2013) An integrated process and management tools for ranking multiple emerging threats to animal health. Prev Vet Med.108(2-3):94-102 

Hartley M, F Voller , T Murray  & H Roberts  (2012) Qualitative Veterinary Risk Assessment of the Role of Wild Deer in the Likelihood of Incursion and the Impact on Effective Disease Control of Selected Exotic Notifiable Diseases in England. European Journal of Wildlife Research 59(2) 257-70. 

Peel AJ, Hartley M & Cunningham AA. (2012) Qualitative risk analysis of introducing Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to the UK through the importation of live amphibians. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 98(2) 95-112. 

Roberts H, M Carbon, M Hartley & M Sabirovic (2011) Assessing the risk of disease introduction through imports. The Veterinary Record 168(17) 447-8. 

Hartley M & R Lysons (2011) Development of the England Wildlife Health Strategy – a tool for decision makers. The Veterinary Record 168(6) 158-162. 

Banyard AC, M Hartley & AR Fooks (2010) Reassessing the risk from rabies – a continuing threat to the UK ? Virus Research 152(1-2) 79-84. 

Hartley M.P & E. Gill (2010)  Assessment and Mitigation Process for Disease Risks Associated with Wildlife Management and Conservation Interventions. The Veterinary Record 166 (16) 487-90. 

Hartley M.P (2009) Qualitative risk assessment of the role of the feral boar (Sus scrofa) in the likelihood of incursion and the impacts on effective disease control of selected exotic diseases in England. European Journal of Wildlife Research 56; 401-10. 

Banyard AC, Johnson N, Voller K, Hicks D, Nunez A, Hartley M & Fooks AR. (2009)  Repeated detection of European bat lyssavirus type 2 in dead bats found at a single roost site in the UK. Arch Virol.154(11):1847-50. 

Loewenstein L, T Mclachlan-Troup, M Hartley, A English (2008) Serological survey for evidence of Leptospira interrogans in free-living platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Australian Veterinary Journal 86 (6); 242-245. 

Hartley, M.P (2006) Diagnosis of toxoplasma gondii infection by pathologic investigation, serology and immunohistochemistry in two common wombats (Vombatus ursinus) Australian Veterinary Journal 84 (3): 107-109. 

Hartley M.P, Kirberger RM, Haagenson M, Sweers L. (2005) Diagnosis of suspected hypovitaminosis A using magnetic resonance imaging in African lions (Panthera leo). Journal of South African Veterinary Association. 76 (3) 132-7. 

Wagner. W, Hartley. M.P, Duncan, N.M and M.G.Barrows. (2005) Diagnosis of Spinal Spondylosis and Acute Intervertebral Disc Prolapse in a European Brown Bear. (Ursus arctos arctos) Journal of the South African Veterinary Association. 76 (2) 120-2. 

Hartley, M.P and A.W. English. (2005) Sarcoptes Scabei var Wombati Infection in the Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) European Journal of Wildlife Research 52 (2) 117-121. 

Hartley M.P and A.W English. (2005) A Seroprevalence survey of Toxoplasma gondii in Common Wombats (Vombatus ursinus). European Journal of Wildlife Research 51 (1) 65-7. 

Hartley, M & A.W English, (2004) A Serological Survey for Leptospira interrogans serovars hardjo and pomona in Common Wombats (Vombatus ursinus) The Veterinary Record.154 (15) 476-7. 

Hartley, M & S Sanderson, S (2003) Use of anitbiotic impregnated polymethyl methacrylate beads in the treatment of chronic mandibular osteomyelitis in a Bennetts wallaby(Macropus rufogriseus frutica) Australian Veterinary Journal 81 (12) 742-4.