Matt Hartley


IUCN Wildlife Health Specialist
IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist
IUCN Tapir Specialist
IUCN Deer Specialist

I have worked in zoos and with wildlife for twenty years starting as a volunteer keeper at London Zoo whilst undertaking my veterinary degree at the Royal Veterinary College. In summer breaks I participated in wildlife surveying in Kenya during the annual migration, crocodile reproduction research in South Africa and disease research at the wildlife/livestock interface in Botswana. During clinical years I worked with the Gatehouse Veterinary Practice covering Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park and completed an elective period with the veterinary team at London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo Park.

On graduation I was appointed as assistant vet at Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks where I gained huge experience with rhinos, elephants, primates and carnivores. I then moved to the Gatehouse practice to assist with work at Chester and Knowsley and exotic pets.

In 2001 I started a masters degree in Wildlife Health and Population Management at the University of Sydney. I completed modules in Wildlife Health, Wildlife Field Research, In-situ Wildlife Management, Sustainable Use of Wildlife, Non-Native and Pest Species and undertook a research project on infectious diseases in 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, worked at a koala hospital and travelled extensively.

Following this degree I moved continents to South Africa where I became Manager of Veterinary Services at Johannesburg Zoo. I developed the veterinary service from a single vet to a team of 10 including three vets, nurses, a laboratory technician, care staff and a pathologist. I established a veterinary residency training programme with the University of Pretoria. With my team, I provided veterinary health care for a number of conservation projects including the Wattled Crane Conservation Programme, Vulture Conservation Programme and assisted with field research on mongoose, meerkats, crocodiles, rhinos and primates. I also had the opportunity to participate in game capture. I had significant additional responsibilities at the zoo including chairing the conservation and research committee, participating in masterplan development and collection planning.

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. In 2008 I was promoted to Portfolio Manager taking on additional responsibilities for equine disease, aquatic animal health, a surveillance and research portfolio worth in excess of £20million and more recently as head of imports and trade policy.

I left Defra in 2011 to return to my passion – zoological, wildlife and conservation science and management and founded Zoo and Wildlife Solutions Ltd. to do this.

In September 2015 I joined the University of Chester as a Lecturer in Animal Biology. During two years in this role I gained a post-graduate certificate in teaching and learning in higher education and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. I taught a number of bachelor degrees including Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Conservation Biology and Bioveterinary Science. I was the programme lead for MRes in Wildlife Behaviour and Conservation and supervised 6 students to completion.

I am now offering a full-time consultancy service again.