Anyone 18 or over and studying our Zoo Animal Care Course is eligible for ZSL (Zoological Society of London) Fellowship.
Please click here for more information about course accreditation
Continued Professional Development
This course counts for 130 hours CPD
All students enrolling on this course become eligible for a discount on our Zoo Animal Nutrition Diploma course (£299).
The Zoo Course: Animal Care, Behaviour and Welfare is relevant for working in zoos or as a zoo keeper, or working in a voluntary or paid capacity looking for wildlife in captivity in safari parks, zoos etc.
Learn about care, behaviour, psychology, enrichment, welfare, conservation, rescue & rehabilitation of wildlife in captive animal environments.
There are a great many jobs involving the care of zoo animals. These include: Zoo Keepers, Wildlife Rangers, Zoologists, Habitat Designers, Curators, Zoo Vet Assistants, Zoo Horticulturists, Education Officers, Presenters, Wildlife Park Keepers etc.
This course has been designed in consultation with employers, to enhance career and employment prospects working in zoos and safari parks. There is a strong emphasis on the welfare of animals in captivity and the essential environmental enrichment requirements.
This zoo course includes an optional 1 or 2 week practical held at an award winning Christian run zoo farm in Somerset OR a Nature & Wildlife Centre in Worcestershire. Students attending the placements will gain hands-on experience with a variety of animals, working alongside zoo keepers in busy animal environments.
Wildlife in Captivity
This module of our zoo course explores: Ethical issues, Environment Enrichment, Nutrition, Welfare and the roles of charities that deal with rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife around the world.
Caring for Wildlife in Captivity
In this module of the zoo course, learn about Wildlife First Aid, spotting the signs of ill health and disease. Record Keeping, identification transport, rescue & rehabilitation
Behaviour in Captivity
In Module 3 of the zoo course, learn about animal behaviour and body language. Learn how to recognise, reduce and respond to the signs of stress.
Ascertaining psychological and behavioural needs based on natural social systems and species-specific senses. This module includes information about enclosure design and maintenance.
Effective & Humane handling & restraint
This zoo course module includes information about dealing with dangerous animals, Keeper-Animal interactions and Visitor-Animal interactions.
Ecological & Conservation Principles
Learn about the human-wildlife conflict and conservation strategies as well as community involvement methods that can be applied.
1 or 2 Week Practical Zoo Course Experience (Optional)
Please note that students can enrol on this zoo course without the Practical
Students attending these practicals will gain hands-on experience working with a variety of Zoo and farm animals.
These zoo course practicals are varied and may include some or all of the following:
These are fantastic opportunities to gain highly sought after hands-on experience with animals.
Animals cared for by the zoo in Somerset include: Lions, giraffe, zebra, white rhinoceros, elephants, tigers, camels, buffalo, yaks, meerkats, ostrich, gibbons, lemurs, tamarins, marmosets, crocodiles, iguanas, snakes, bearded dragons, chameleons, alpacas, llamas, vultures, emus, wallabies and farm animals! The experience includes hands-on work with domestic and farm animals and this is all relevant for gaining practical experience with a variety of animals.
Alternatively, zoo course students can choose a placement working at an educational Nature and Animal Centre in Worcestershire. Animals cared for by this organisation include: Lemurs, reptiles, birds, aquatics, capybara, rhea, donkeys, wallabies, goats, alpacas, llamas, mongoose, meerkats, foxes, rabbits, guinea pigs, porcupines, hedgehogs, squirrel monkeys, skunks, deer, raccoons, armadillos, chinchillas, peafowl and marmosets.
Having a placement is NOT a compulsory element of the zoo course and we recognise that some students may not be able to commit to this. We recommend that students take the placement for 2 weeks but we understand that some students may not be able to commit to this length of time and so will accept placement bookings for 1 week.
£699 (includes optional practical)
Please contact us if you would like to enrol WITHOUT the practical placement - please note this does not affect the course fee amount.
£325 followed by 5 x monthly payments of £90 (includes optional practical)
(Course cost is all inclusive of tutoring fees, assessments, materials and course registration)
NOTE: All students enrolling on this course become eligible for a discount on our Zoo Animal Nutrition Diploma course (£299).
The course explores how to put animal welfare as a priority whilst allowing for clear management techniques and the publics’ enjoyment of the zoo. Animal handling is also a topic for investigation when thinking of zoos – many members of the public think it would be a privilege and would hope that they could get up close and personal with the wild animals without realising any implications that this may have.
There are obvious reasons for psychological distress such as prior experience of maltreatment. For example, animals that have been used in laboratory experiments where they have suffered pain and fear. Similarly, animals that have been held captive for the purpose of the tourist industry. For example, young chimpanzees used for photo opportunities and bears used for “dancing” whose lives are destroyed by cruel treatment and removal from the natural state.
Measuring psychological distress is attempted by observation and a non-invasive process (against standard norms for a species) and, it can be measured by an invasive process whereby blood is taken to determine glucocorticoid levels.
Glucocorticoids are hormones. Hormones are sometimes referred to as chemical messengers that are released from various endocrine glands in response to a stimulus.
Glucocorticoids are released in responses to stresses (some necessary, some unnecessary when considering captive animals), but there are variations between species and individuals of a species*. The adrenal cortex is associated with their manufacture and release.
Stresses occur naturally for example during the reproductive process, during foraging and feeding (watching for predators or rivals within a group) and in normal day-to- day interactions. Evolutionary processes provide adaptations for an animal to cope with such stresses. For example, meerkats have at least one group member acting as a lookout whilst the others forage, play or rest.
However, animals held in captivity suffer stresses that are outside the norm for that animal and their ability to deal with such stresses is limited or non-existent. An example could be captive meerkats kept in isolation from one another, on display so that zoo visitors can see them all the time. Each meerkat, as an individual, would be unable to function because their behaviour in wild is determined by group dynamics: they do not live as independent individuals.
Tigers on the other hand live in the wild state as individuals with male and female avoiding each other except during the mating process. It would be assumed therefore, that tigers cannot live in groups. Such an assumption would be incorrect because captive tigers can and do live in groups, quite happily and successfully
Multiple residents within one enclosure depend upon the individual personality of each animal. Some tigers are amenable to others within close proximity whilst others are not. Given that each animal is a product of sexual reproduction, with mixing of genetic material, this should be an obvious conclusion.
There is a multitude of variables that determine whether a species will respond well or otherwise to captivity. Size was one aspect as this is probably the most important of all aspects. Birds kept in captivity rarely have the opportunity to fly to their full extent unless kept in multi- species aviaries. To analyse enclosure designs, we need to consider the species that will be housed within a given enclosure and the management of the enclosures including what aspects of the design match species’ needs and what aspects match the needs of management. All too often, the human requirement is put at the forefront rather than that of the animals to be kept.
Wild animals in captive situations require special practices. Any captive wild animal held will at some point in its life require transportation or treatment which will in turn require the use of handling and restraint. Animals may require moving from one enclosure or collection to another, they may have escaped and need capturing or they may need routine or non-routine veterinary attention. It may also be a requirement to isolate animals, possibly for quarantine purposes and therefore animals may need to be handled, restrained and transported to an isolation enclosure at some point in their captive lives.
Safety of the handler and the animal are paramount at all times and the need for handling and/or restraint will always be considered before the act takes place to ensure it is a necessity.
When dealing with any animal species it is often a necessity to handle and restrain the animal in question. The methods of handling and restraint differ greatly depending on the species, especially its size and temperament.
It is important to note that handling and restraining wild animal species is a much more complex and stressful process as oppose to handling domestic companion animals. Wild animals are far more susceptible to stress and injury than domestic species, particularly during capture, handling, restraint and transportation. Even apparent simple procedures such as blood collection or clinical examination can significantly jeopardise the health and welfare of a wild animal. It is for this reason that the methods of handling and restraining wild animals need to be fully understood and appreciated prior to these methods occurring.
There are a variety of restraint methods and equipment which can be used in order to restrain wild animals in captivity. There are four main ways in which animals can be restrained; these are physical, mechanical, chemical and behavioural. Each of these methods have positive and negative associations and it is important that the correct method is used in the right situation, this will depend greatly on the species involved.
Physical restraint it sometimes mandatory and includes handling animals with bare hands, as well as using tools such as gloves, graspers and nets. Prior to physical restraint being used it is important to consider some key points.
Mechanical restraint is the use of restraint systems such as squeeze or crush cages and plexiglass in order to restrain an animal safely without the use of chemicals or physical force. Mechanical restraint methods are commonly used in collections and enclosures are often designed with mechanical restraint in mind. Many enclosures will have smaller, off-show den areas which can be used for confinement. Some enclosures may also have crush or squeeze cages built into them which the animals move through on a daily basis. These cages can then be used to restrain the animal with minimal force in order to carry out checks or administer injections.