A cross-continental investigation of captive macropod behavioural response to the captive environment in relation to lumpy jaw. (#863)
Oral necrobacillosis, also referred to as ‘lumpy jaw’, is a well-recognised cause of morbidity and mortality in captive macropods worldwide. It is distinguished by alveolar osteomyelitis of the mandible and/or maxilla, with associated inflammation, causing the characteristic appearance of lumps to the jaw. Treatment for lumpy jaw is often invasive and unsuccessful, with a low post-therapy survival rate. The assumption is that the increased occurrence of lumpy jaw in captivity is due to animals being exposed to stressful environments brought about by management procedures. Techniques to reduce stress and disease are routinely included in husbandry and management practices yet the findings from zoo reports indicate that these procedures may have a causative role to play in disease outbreaks. These practices also have an influence health, well-being and behaviour, ultimately impacting upon host immunity, leading to outbreaks of disease such as lumpy jaw. However, the behavioural response to management techniques in captive macropods is largely unknown and could prove to be a useful tool in identifying factors within their environment that cause stress, and subsequently, disease. To encapsulate an amplified global perspective, studies of captive macropod behaviour and enclosure utilisation will be performed in zoos across Australia and Europe. Analyses of behavioural responses to housing and husbandry, in relation to their lumpy jaw status, aim to identify factors within the captive environment that may predispose macropods to the disease. This information will provide the baseline for revised husbandry requirements for the keeping of macropods in captivity in Australia and Europe. Recommendations will be shared with stakeholders in zoos in both continents and ultimately, worldwide.