Level 3 Diploma in Zookeeping

Ofqual Code 603/4158/0
Course level 3
GLH 297
Location Blackpool Zoo
Estimated Study Time 297 hours
Start Date Anytime
Award type Diploma
Assessment Method Variety of in-depth assessments for each unit
DEFRA Logo Open College Network Green Logo ELCAS Approved Logo
Associated Courses

Course fees £2,300

Payment Options
  • 2400 : Pay 200 now and 11 monthly installments
    • 2400 : Pay 200 now and 11 monthly installments £200.00

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‘Since starting the course I have obtained two volunteering positions one in a zoo, another in a rescue centre and I am already looking into where to go next with my studies’……..”.

Please click here for more of this students’ review of our Zookeeper qualification

“I cannot recommend this team and course enough. They have all been so welcoming to myself and my team this week from Animal Courses Direct. I feel like we have all learned so much during our zoo keeper training and the practical experience has been absolutely amazing. We have experienced everything so hands on and I feel really lucky to have been able to come to such a special zoo for this. Special shout out to Harry who has put up with us all week and taught us so much, he is excellent at what he does. I know things that we have discussed will stick with me and make the rest of the course so much easier. Thank you.” Luke Botham, Student.

Unit # 1

Development of Zoos

Learn how the use of animals in captivity has developed historically and about the progress made from early zoos to modern zoos. Gain an understanding of the roles of modern zoos and how this has changed over the years, including the areas of entertainment, research, conservation and education. Understand how the role of the zookeeper assists in the running of the modern zoo.

Unit # 2

Animal Welfare and Ethics

Learn about the primary needs of animals in captivity and the assessment of animal welfare in zoos including the management of breeding of animals in captivity. This unit also explores ethics within animal welfare and the ethical implications of keeping animals in a zoo.

Unit # 3

Conservation in Zoos

Study the different options of conservation available to zoos and why zoological collections are more suitable for different forms of conservation. This unit also explores how various breeding programmes work.

Unit # 4

Zoo 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 unit 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. This unit explores general zoo design and how to improve existing enclosures taking into account the health and safety requirements for enclosure design.

Unit # 5

Disease and Prevention

Learn how to report unusual behaviours and signs of illness promptly. Learn about zoonotic and animal disease and how to prevent their spread. Explore how to source information about animal diets and nutrition and how to correctly store animal feeds.

Unit # 6

Management of Animals in Zoos

In this module of the zookeeper course, learn about the basic information that is required for the management of animals in a zoo. Learn how to use observation skills effectively as a zookeeper and the importance of record keeping in the management of animals in a zoo. This unit also explores the importance of team work in the management of animals in a zoo.

Unit # 7

Enrichment and Training

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 safety of zoo animals and the need to study the results are also explored. 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 explored. Various sources of enrichment and training information are supplied as part of this unit.

Unit # 8

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. The unit studies how keepers are ‘ambassadors’ for the zoo community in general and their collection in particular. The keeper’s role during media events, and giving presentations both within the zoo and externally at conferences and meetings is also explored. Learn about 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 # 9

Legislation and Zoological Collections

Gain knowledge about the legislations that are relevant to zoological collections in the UK and Europe. Learn about zoo related associations in the UK and Europe and analyse the impact on the role of the zookeeper. Gain an understanding of legislation in animal transportation in the UK and Europe. This unit also explores zoo keeper and visitor interaction with animals and the limitations within this area.

Unit # 10

Practical Dates

Practicals at Blackpool Zoo 2021

April 19th-23rd                           May 17th – 21st
June 21st – 25th                           July 7th – 11th
Sept 20th – 24th                          Oct 11th-15th
Nov 15th-19th                              Dec 6th-10th

minimum student age: 16 years

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The Ofqual regulated Level 3 Diploma Zookeeping Training is an ideal qualification for working or volunteering in zoos or for working with wildlife in captivity in zoos, safari parks, wildlife collections.

This Zookeeper course consists of theory and practical training.

The theory is studied online from home, at your own pace and with full tutor support. The practical training consists of 1 week training at Blackpool Zoo. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain experiential learning with a variety of species at this prestigious award winning Zoo.


Animal Courses Direct students talking about their 1 week practical course at Blackpool Zoo

Animal Courses Direct students enjoying their practical placement at Blackpool Zoo

Learning about Enrichment

Cleaning animal enclosures

Handling and Welfare

Health and Hygiene

ZSL Fellowship

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.

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Zookeeping Course Practical Experience

The 1 week Practical Training programme at Blackpool Zoo includes both theoretical and practical learning with a focus on experiential learning. Blackpool Zoo is a 32-acre zoo located in Blackpool, Lancashire, England – this well regarded zoo provides excellent, well established practical training and is home to over 1,350 animals from all over the world including lions, tigers, elephants, gorillas, zebras, flamingos, penguins, ostriches, owls, tortoises and more.

The practical training is tailored to each small group and includes:

  • Enclosure design (including Project Elephant)
  • Primates – with a focus on enrichment and diets
  • Education (including conservation and sustainability)
  • Animal training/behaviour (specifically elephant and sea lion)
  • Reptiles, Invertebrates – with a focus on specialist care
  • Zoo administration: Including ZIMs, EEPs, Stud book management, Zoo licensing
  • Research – this includes allocated time for personal project
  • There will be direct contact with a number of key species including giraffes, penguins, prosimians, aardvarks, tapirs, sea lions.

This Zookeeper qualification is open to anyone aged 16 or over. No prior qualifications are necessary. Please note, accommodation and food is not included in the course fees. Course fees must be paid in full prior to attending the practical placement.

Next practical training dates: 2021

April 19th-23rd      May 17th -21st    June 21st  –  25th      July 7th – 11th
Sept  20th – 24th    Oct 11th-15th      Nov 15th-19th            Dec 6th-10th

Enrichment for Animals in Captivity

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 should always be carefully considered.

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.

Animal Courses Direct accepts no liability or responsibility for practical placements advertised on our website; placements are carried out entirely at the user’s own risk and students are required to sign our waiver form and obtain their own travel insurance. Where a deposit is requested, this is non refundable. Students are required to pay course fees in full prior to attending the practical placement. Practical placement dates may change and are subject to availability, please see our T&Cs.


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Start your career with this Zookeeper training course

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 zookeeper qualification 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 zookeeper qualification explores how to put animal welfare as a priority whilst allowing for clear management techniques and the publics’ enjoyment of the zoo. 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!


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Zookeeper Qualification Reviews

Georgie Bardsley : “Fantastic year of studying: I really enjoyed doing the course and I have been fortunate enough to work with animals for the last 2 years. This course was definitely my step in the door to zoo keeping and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had”

Emma Hearn : “I have loved my time learning with Animal Courses Direct, the tutors are easy to contact and you learn so much. I am currently studying the Level 3 Diploma in Zookeeping and I’m also studying zoo animal nutrition. I’ve recently just had my zoo keeping placement at Blackpool Zoo where I got to train as a zookeeper for a week. It was amazing, I learnt so much and got up close and personal with the animals. It’s made me want to be a zookeeper even more. One of the best things about studying with Animal Courses Direct is you can do it in your own time and you can study as many courses as you like. You can fit your studies around your lifestyle. I’ve told so many friends and family about how amazing they are that I have currently got friends who are looking at enrolling on the course.”