Primatology Course



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Primatology Diploma 

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Primatology Course

Course Fees:  £699

Continued Professional Development

This course counts for 90 hours CPD

Primatology Diploma Level 3

Anyone 18 or over and studying our Primatology Diploma Course is eligible for ZSL (Zoological Society of London) Fellowship.

  • The Primatology course is for anyone wanting to work or volunteer with primates or in primate conservation. 
  • Nearly half of all primates are now endangered globally, including monkeys and apes, our closest primate relatives.
  • This comprehensive course explores primate origins, natural habitats, behaviour, ecological & conservation principles, primate rescue, rehabilitation, enrichment and welfare.
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Animal Jobs Direct makes a donation to the Zambia Primate Project (ZPP) for each enrolment on this course. 

The GRI - Zambia Primate Project, established by and with on-going support of the Born Free Foundation, is one of Africa’s most established and successful primate release programmes. Its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and illegally held ‘pet’ vervet monkeys and yellow baboons for release back to the wild.

The great majority of primates that ZPP rescues are victims of the growing bushmeat trade in Zambia. The mothers are slaughtered for their meat, and their babies sold into the illegal pet trade.  As the babies grow and develop sharp canine teeth they are held captive using short, tight ropes tied around their waists and tormented and harassed by people and village dogs. Others are found injured in poachers’ wire snares or stoned when they come into conflict with people in the villages. ZPP Primate survival rate, 6 months post release, currently averages 95%. 


Orphaned baboon Betty, who was released back into the wild by ZPP in 2014 (c)ZPP


Continued Professional Development

This course counts for 90 hours CPD

Module 1

Origins and natural habitat of primates  

This primatology course module explores the origins and natural habitats of primates and their global distribution including: Biogeography, countries, continents; commensal relationships: primates & trees; forest types-habitat types; primary & secondary rainforest; riverine habitats; territory defending and species differences. 

Learn about the scientific classifications of primates through their taxonomy, primate groups & families; apes, monkeys, prosimians; extant primates; suborders; new world monkeys (NWM) and old world monkeys (OWM).

Module 2

Primate Behaviour

Learn how to differentiate between types & forms of behaviour amongst primates as well as how to identify various behaviours according to species & primate groups.  

Learn how the studies of primate behaviour have developed since the early 20th Century and how primate behaviour is studied & understand the complications involved. 

Learn about the differences between wild & captive behavioural observations including: Innate & learned; experiential; individual differences; influences on environment (physical, emotional) and social behaviours.

Module 3

Ecological and Conservation Principles

Gain an understanding about Human-wildlife conflict & attitudes towards primates. Including: Bush meat & related issues; the benefits & disadvantages of ecotourism; conservation strategies through case studies & examples.

Learn about the importance of legislation in the protection of primates & describe the affect of the pet trade on wild primate populations.

Learn about abnormal behaviours in captive primates & the importance of environmental enrichment. 

Learn about the use of primates including: Range of usefulness: labour, laboratory, entertainment,  companionship; historic perspective; zoos, private captives, differences between countries: legal status, demands for keeping primates and the ethics of keeping primates.

Module 4

Community engagement methods

In this primatology course module, you will explore how community engagement is a essential for primate conservation in the wild. Learn about the processes of community consultation and how to incorporate this into conservation and primate welfare programmes.  

Learn about primate rescue and rehabilitation, including: Reintroduction as conservation tool; captive primates: relevance to conservation; care of captive primates in rehabilitation: physical & psychological trauma issues, social issues species-specific; reintroduction programmes: issues & faults; species reintroduced such as: Red Colobus monkey, Golden Lion Tamarin, Vervet monkey and Great Apes. 

Learn how to identify signs of ill health and common ailments and diseases. This section includes First Aid, vaccinations and zoonoses.

Learn about Rescue centres & sanctuaries, including: Range & type of, differences between; country-specific organisations; criteria that influence rescue; types of primate rescued, reasons for rescue and welfare of rescued primates.

Module 5

Rescue and Rehabilitation 

This module explores how to deal with physical and psychological trauma in the Primate. Learn how to administer immediate first aid and how to identify and respond to common diseases and illnesses that may affect the rescued primate. Specific individuals & organisations are discussed with examples from across the globe.

Module 6

Care of the Captive Primate 

Certain workers in the area of primate conservation have produced exemplary practices in the care of captive primates. They have designed captive accommodation to maximise the environment by providing enrichment and thus welfare. This module explores how to apply these concepts to assist primates in captivity.

Optional Practical Placement for Primatology Diploma Students

Minimum age requirement is 18

Placement dates: Dates are NOT inclusive of the arrival and departing days. All volunteers must arrive the day before the placement, which is usually a Saturday and their first working day is a Sunday. 

Placement dates:

7th -21st of December 2019              

21st June- 4th July 2020                 

12th -25th July 2020                              

1st -15th August 2020   

This course includes an optional 2 week practical placement in Cornwall with registered charity, Wild Futures -  a leader in the field of primate welfare and conservation, environmental education and sustainable practice, committed to protecting primates and habitats worldwide. This is a safe haven for monkeys rescued from situations of abuse and neglect. They have an international reputation for levels of care and innovative management techniques and work closely with other organisations to lobby local and central government to bring about positive change for primates. They also support projects overseas with funding, practical assistance and advice and believe that education is vital in changing things for the better; educating more than 30,000 visitors and students on their work each year.

Although volunteers do not work directly with the monkeys (who require consistent, specialised care from experienced primate care staff), they do help make sure that things run smoothly. 

Volunteers help to clean the enclosures, prepare the monkey’s food, learn to identify edible wild leaves and make enrichment items for them. They also help with site upkeep and other daily tasks, gaining a unique insight into the work done by this organisation.

The sanctuary began with woolly monkeys, a beautiful primate from South America. Thousands of woolly monkeys were imported into Britain in the 1950's, '60's and '70's for the pet trade or to become part of zoos’ collections. Few lived long. The Sanctuary was set up in order to provide a more natural lifestyle for a few ex-pet and ex-zoo monkeys and also to be an example to the zoo world, which labelled woolly monkeys 'difficult' because they had no success with breeding the species. The Sanctuary succeeded on both counts. Given space, respect and tolerance the socially disturbed and  humanised individuals gradually settled. In this atmosphere, the first successful birth in captivity occurred in 1967.

Since then, four generations have been born here, all descended from the original monkeys. From the year 2000 The Monkey Sanctuary has had a non-breeding policy and concentrates instead on rehabilitation. Since 2000,  they have rescued capuchin monkeys (currently 28) and 3 Barbary macaques who have all had traumatic pasts either as pets, or in zoos and circuses. The main focus of their work is providing a place where all the monkeys can express as much natural behaviour as possible, and for the rescued monkeys this involves a complex rehabilitation process in which their interaction with humans is kept to a minimum, and we hope you will see the benefits of this at work.

The keepers run all aspects of the organisation and each has their own area of responsibility. There are up to 12 keepers, many of whom were once volunteers themselves. When a new person joins the team their first few months are spent learning to recognise the monkeys, not only as individual personalities, but also their position in the hierarchy of the colony. This is very important and means that when the new keeper comes to take an active role in the care of the monkeys they will know how to approach each monkey. Even an act as apparently simple as putting food into the territory has potential problems.

Failure to respond to the status of the monkeys can lead to disputes, e.g. if a dominant monkey feels they should have been given food before a subordinate. Some of the adult males dislike strangers wandering too close to their territory and may try and grab at an inexperienced keeper. Without knowing these different aspects, one could unwittingly cause stress to the monkeys. For this reason volunteers cannot work directly with the monkeys. Often former keepers return to help on a regular basis as experienced volunteers (this is a place that people often want to return to). Working at the Sanctuary full time can be quite intense. The keepers rarely have an opportunity to switch off. Part of their duty is to listen out for any upset in the monkey colony, night and day. At least two experienced keepers must be on the premises at all times to attend to any problems. High summer open days can involve talking to up to a thousand visitors. Communal meal times are well attended by all in the house and are a good time to meet all those new faces.

Keith White (completed the Primatology  Diploma course)

"I have always been interested in primates and decided that now was the time for a career change. I therefore, needed to get qualified in order to follow my dream. The Primatology course provided by Animal Jobs Direct ticked all of the boxes for me. 

I found the course extremely interesting and stimulating.  The course notes were detailed enough to encourage further self-study and the feedback was of great benefit to me  I found my course tutor Louise Robson to be extremely helpful and supportive throughout the course and all in all I found it a real pleasure to undertake this subject. I have recently been offered a place on the MSc Primate Conservation course at Oxford Brookes and I know that it's Animal Jobs Direct that have helped me get the opportunity to further my aspirations and could not speak highly enough of the organisation".

Are you studying primates and want to gain hands-on experience assisting with primate care, rehabilitation and release? 

Primate Care Placement in Zambia

A volunteer assisting with post release

monitoring in Zambia © ZPP

Volunteers with the GRI - Zambia Primate Project will have the opportunity to play an active role in contributing to the successful running of the rehabilitation and release aspects of the project. Please note that this is a working conservation project so you will need to come prepared to roll up your sleeves and get involved with whatever activities the project is tasked with at the time of your visit. ZPP offers volunteer opportunities at both their primate transit home (rehabilitation centre) and out of their release camp deep in the bush.

To join the field team releasing and monitoring their rescued baboons and monkeys in Kafue National Park, or to assist with primate care and pre-release preparations at the primate transit home please contact ZPP's Senior Technical Advisor Dr Cheryl Mvula on for further details and costs.

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