This Level 3 Award in Zoo Animal Nutrition is an Ofqual regulated qualification that equips learners with the knowledge on how best to support the nutrition and health of captive animals. The qualification is useful for anyone working or volunteering with captive animals in either Zoos or Safari Parks.
During the course you will have the opportunity to take in the history of zoo nutrition and learn how advances in research and technology has led to the improvement of zoo nutrition.
You will be able to explore the differences between the nutritional needs of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, taking into account their different digestive anatomical features. The effect that nutrition has on zoo animal health and welfare is explored along with how best to promote good health.
The course rounds off with a look at the practical elements required when feeding captive animals such as food storage, preparation and presentation. You will be able to calculate dietary requirements and create feeding plans, along with understanding the importance of complying with current legislation.
Unit # 1
Zoo Animal Nutrition, an Introduction
Learners will develop an understanding of the history of zoo animal nutrition and how it compares to present day zoo animal nutrition. The future of zoo animal nutrition will also be investigated. An understanding of the different nutrient groups as well the process of digestion will also be developed.
Unit # 2
The Nutrition of Herbivores, Omnivores and Carnivores in Zoos
Learners will understand the differences between the digestive anatomical features of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. Learners will also gain an understanding of suitable nutrition for herbivores, omnivores and carnivores in zoos.
Unit # 3
Zoo Animal Nutrition, Health and Welfare
Learners will appreciate the importance of zoo animal nutrition in relation to zoo animal health and welfare. An understanding of common nutritional diseases will be developed along with an understanding of how to promote zoo animal welfare through different feeding practices.
Unit # 4
Practical Feeding Solutions and Legislation
The learner will understand practical feeding solutions for animals in zoos to include food storage, preparation and presentation. Learners will know how to calculate dietary requirements and create feeding plans. The learner will also know how to keep nutritional records and comply with relevant legislation.
When you study a wildlife, zoology or conservation course with Animal Courses Direct, you
will be eligible to apply for ZSL Fellowship. Fellows get unlimited access for them and a
family guest to ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos plus borrowing rights in the extensive ZSL
library of rare zoological texts. Enrol on your course and apply directly to ZSL for Fellowship.
The Importance of Good Nutrition
Captive animals are completely dependent on their keepers to provide for their health needs. Good nutrition for captive animals is crucial in maintaining physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Working out an appropriate feeding regime for a particular animal requires in-depth knowledge of health and digestive systems along with species-specific information.
The vital benefits of good nutrition for captive animals include:
- Increased health
- Lowered veterinary costs
- Increased life expectancy and breeding success
- Decreased stereotypical behaviour
- Increased positive mental health
- Increased positive physical condition
Poor nutrition, on the other hand, can have a range of impacts on the health and welfare of animals in captivity such as:
- Muscular atrophy
- Metabolic bone disease
- Iron storage disease
- Reproductive disorders
- Poor mental health
The importance of good nutrition, appropriate to the species, is clear. Fortunately, knowledge and understanding on this subject has improved vastly over the years and has led directly to happier and healthier animals.
Over time, it was discovered that food could provide much more than simply nutrition for captive animals. Food, when presented in novel ways, can provide entertainment and relief from boredom as well as encouraging natural behaviours in animals such as foraging.
The term ‘feeding enrichment’ means providing challenging and interesting environments that aim to increase mental and physical activity for animals as they feed and search for food. Providing feeding enrichment has been shown to support positive mental wellbeing and reduce stress by encouraging natural behaviours in captive animals.
Examples of feeding enrichment can include presenting food to the animal in challenging ways, such as within a puzzle box for example. It also includes stimulating the senses such as using scent.
Paying attention to the landscaping and substrate used within the enclosure is important. By adding substrates such as dirt, litter, mulch, vegetation, or trees, keepers can increase the ‘information content’ of the environment. By concealing food, smells, naturally occurring insects, or other wildlife, animals are encouraged to forage and investigate their surroundings.
Feeding enrichment, when combined with other forms of enrichment such as play, can hugely improve the overall wellbeing and quality of life for captive animals.
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