CAWSEL Ambassador and PhD Candidate at Murdoch University, Jess Rendle shares insight into her PhD work
Kangaroos and wallabies, collectively known as macropods, are found in zoos all over the world. But, for reasons that are not yet clear, these animals suffer with a condition that seriously affects their welfare – ‘lumpy jaw’. Lumpy jaw is a bacterial infection of the oral cavity that is distinguished by characteristic proliferation of the jawbones.The condition is painful, difficult to treat, and often results in the death of the animal. Lumpy jaw is frequently found in zoo macropods, but is rare in the wild. It is therefore suggested that aspects of macropod captivity may be associated with the occurrence of lumpy jaw.
My PhD is investigating the extent of the lumpy jaw problem in zoos across Australia and Europe, where macropods are popular exhibits. I am also investigating aspects of macropod housing and husbandry that may influence the development of this painful condition. Results from this research will be used to develop new husbandry guidelines for the care of macropods with the aim of reducing incidence of lumpy jaw and subsequently improving the health and welfare of one of Australia’s most iconic species.