Level 3 Zookeeper Qualification


The OFQUAL regulated Level 3 Zookeeper qualification  is an ideal qualification for anyone looking to pursue a career  working in zoos as a zoo keeper, or in a voluntary capacity working with wildlife in captivity in zoos, safari parks, wildlife collections etc.

There are a wide range of wild animals housed in zoos, ranging from reptiles, big cats, and endangered species, including rhinos, primates, carnivores and many more. This course will give you a thorough basic knowledge and understanding of how to look after these amazing animals in captivity and how to conserve them for the future.

Learn about zoo animal care, history of zoos, animal behaviour, animal classification, captive environmental enrichment & stress reduction,  animal welfare in zoos, wildlife conservation, record keeping, zoo legislation, zoo habitat design, nutrition & feeding animals in captivity, animal handling and more!

This Zookeeper qualification is open to anyone aged 16 or over, no prior qualifications are necessary.


This Level 3 Zookeeper qualification is studied online from home, with full tutor support. 

2019 Course Start Date

The next student intake date is 2nd April 2019.

Please note, this course has a maximum number of participants - please enrol as soon as possible to secure your place and avoid disappointment.

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Level 3 Zookeeper Qualification


Ofqual Regulated Qualification: 603/4158/0

Unit Summary 

297 GLH 

Unit 1

Animals in Zoos

This unit explore the early uses of animals by man for entertainment and curiosity, rather than for food. This then progresses into the study of early zoos and how they developed into today's modern zoo.

Learn how, even in relatively recent times, the role of the zoo has changed in a positive way (entertainment, research, conservation, education). Learn about the roles of the modern zoo in today’s society.

Unit 2

Zoos and the Law

This unit covers the various legislation and laws that can affect zoological collections so that you will have an understanding of the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice, the Zoo Licensing Act, the Health and Safety Executive, Animal Transfers (including the European Directive BALAI) as well as Local Authorities and be aware of how they can affect the running of the zoos and their day to day activities.

Learn about the various Associations that most zoos are affiliated with such as BIAZA, EAZA and WAZA and why these associations exist and their roles. 

Unit 3

Zoo Keeping

This unit is not designed to teach keepers how to look after individual species of animals but rather the basics of what is expected of an animal keeper in the early stages of their career. For example, zoo keepers must have the ability and willingness to combine what they learn from books and the media with what the more experienced keepers teach them. They must learn to be observant, diligent and work as a team. They must know how to notice signs of stress and ill health in their animals, on a daily basis and, who to report any concerns too.

The importance of accurate record keeping will be highlighted in this module as well as the various methods of recording the data from section diaries to the Zoo Information Management System (ZIMS) software. How this data may be used is also discussed in this unit.

Unit 4 

Zoo Animal Management

This unit of the Zookeeper qualification covers the importance of promptly reporting unusual behaviour, signs of sickness or deteriorating conditions in animals. Learn the importance of following veterinary advice accurately. It also covers the importance of PPE’s and Bio Security. Zoonotic diseases are also discussed. 

The importance of diet and correct nutrition is studied and students will be introduced to software such as ‘Zootrition’. A brief discussion of the problems of incorrect feeding will also be included as well as the correct way of storing food and management of live feed. Presentation of food will be discussed in later modules.

Unit 5

Animal Enrichment & Stress Reduction

This unit explores the value of environmental enrichment and stress reduction in a modern zoo environment and how replicating their natural habitat as well as possible, can significantly improve the welfare of animals in captivity. 

The various types of enrichment are discussed in some detail as well as their definitions. The safety of the animals and the need to study the results are also be explored. The usefulness of enrichment for more than just the animals is also discussed.

Learn about the development and uses of training and the different training methods. Learn how to identify and respond to signs of stress in zoo animals. Gain an understanding about behaviour and body language in zoo animals. The differences between positive and negative reinforcement is also discussed. Various sources of enrichment and training information are supplied as part of this unit.

Unit 6

Zoos and the media

This unit explores the importance and value of the media to a modern zoo and why it is important for staff to be aware of the importance of what keepers say. It explains how keepers are ‘ambassadors’ for the zoo community in general and their collection in particular.  The importance of keeping the zoos press office informed of all events and what the keeper’s role could be during media events is also covered. Gain an understanding about the use of keepers for presentations both within the zoo and externally at conferences and meetings.

This unit explains the importance of both education and research within the modern zoo and how the keeper can assist with both departments. The position of both departments within the modern education system is also explored and how they are often closely connected to all the other departments within the zoo. (Zoos’ are one of the few facilities that assist with teaching right from pre-school through to PhD level). This unit also covers the information given out by the zoos in posters, signage and booklets.

Unit 7

Conservation in Zoos

The ability of a zoo to practice conservation is discussed along with the public’s perception of what a zoo should be doing. Explanation of in-situ and ex-situ conservation is given as well as the other ways that collections can assist with conservation. Examples of zoo conservation is also explored in this unit. Subjects such as national and international breeding programmes and studbooks are included in this module.

Unit 8

Zoo Animal Welfare

This unit touches on the subject of the ethics of keeping animals in captivity and methods used to maintain and monitor their welfare. It will cover the use of species specific guidelines that attempt to ensure minimum standards are maintained. The 5 freedoms and the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice will be discussed. Methods of controlling the animals population, including contraception and culling is also discussed.

Unit 9

Zoo Enclosure Design

Zoo design is always advancing as we have more materials and skills available as we gain more knowledge about the animals we keep. This module discusses how our perceptions of the ideal animal enclosure have changed and what we feel are the most important things that an animal requires when kept in captivity. As one of the most common answers is ‘space’ - which is usually limited - how do we find creative solutions to get around this problem? It  also covers other aspects required in zoo design such as the practicalities of public viewing and keeper safety. The general layout of the zoo is discussed including any preferences to a zoological or geographical style. The pros and cons of each is considered.

ZSL Student Fellowship is available to those aged 18 or over and studying this Zookeeper qualification. As a Fellow you will have the opportunity to vote on the direction of the Society, attend the ZSL Annual General Meeting and are eligible to stand for ZSL Council. Additionally you have will have access to a host of privileges including borrowing rights in the ZSL Library, discounts on events and symposia, an annual Supporters' Day, complimentary drinks receptions and the chance to be more engaged in the work of ZSL by enjoying unlimited entry to both ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for you and a family guest.


Zookeeper Qualification

Level 3

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Lemur Hands-On Experience

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.

The course also explores how to put animal welfare as a priority whilst allowing for clear management techniques and the publics’ enjoyment of the zoo. 


There is a multitude of variables that determine whether a species will respond well or otherwise to captivity. Size of accommodation is one aspect and this is probably the most important consideration for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of all the zoo animals.  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 parts of the design match species’ needs and what areas match the  needs of management. 

All wild animals in captive situations will, at some point, need to be handled, transported, treated and restrained. These situations will require special practices.  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.

The methods of handling and restraint differ greatly depending on the species, especially its size and temperament. 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.

It is important to note that handling and restraining wild animal species is a much more complex and stressful process as opposed 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.


Contact us  to discuss this zookeeper qualification or if you would like more information about us and how to enrol and study

Please note, whilst we make every effort to run courses as advertised, we reserve the right to change the content, timing, dates or venue of our courses. We reserve the right to cancel a course up to the date of the course if insufficient bookings have been received. In all cases, students who had registered to attend a cancelled course will be given the option of a refund or of rescheduling to a future course date but Animal Jobs Direct Ltd disclaims any further liability.

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