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Please note that if you choose the 'e-learning' (course on USB) method, be aware that due to current covid-19 restrictions there are some countries we can not send USB sticks to.

We recommend you choose the online learning method as all online courses provide access to download course notes to access offline or print. If you do require your course to be supplied on USB stick then please contact us first to check availability for your country.

Zoo Keeping

Course CodeBEN208
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Do you have what it takes to work with animals?

Working as a Zoo Keeper is not just a matter of being able to do the job. It is also very much dependent upon the attitude you have and the decisions you make. Decisions like "gaining experience by working with animals as a volunteer", "networking with industry professionals", "showcasing your enthusiasm by keeping up to date on the current research".

Working with animals is not just a profession, it is a passion!


Learn to be a Zoo Keeper 

  • Study how animals are cared for in zoos, and the way zoos are managed
  • Learn animal handling and care and appreciate the daily tasks of a zoo keeper
  • Improve your prospects for employment or career advancement
You will cover many aspects of zoo work such as:  
  • Caring for animals
  • Nutritional and dietary requirements
  • Animal enrichment - environmental and feeding 
  • Breeding in captivity
  • Enclosure Design 
  • Research and Conservation
  • Educating the Public 

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:
  1. The Nature and Scope of Zoos
    • What is a Zoo?
    • The Evolution of Zoos
    • Change in Zoo Design
    • Modern Zoos and Sanctuaries
    • Legislation
    • Codes of Practices
    • Animal Welfare
    • Enrichment
    • Record Keeping
    • Identification Tags
    • Animal Taxonomy
    • Phylums & Classes of the Animal Kingdom
    • The Function of Zoos
    • Research and Zoos
    • Education in Zoos
  2. Occupational Health and Safety in Zoos
    • Workplace Health & Safety
    • Legislation
    • Health & Safety Management in Zoos
    • Zoonoses
    • Legionnaires Disease
    • Other Safety Issues
    • Risk Management
  3. Captive Husbandry - Nutrition and Feeding
    • Animal Nutrition
    • The Effect of Poor Nutrition on Animal Behaviour
    • Water Requirements
    • Essential Dietary Components
    • Vitamins & Minerals
    • Food Storage & Preparation
    • Presentation of Food
  4. Captive Husbandry - Health
    • Monitoring Health
    • Maintaining Health
    • Diseases
    • Quarantine
    • Record Keeping/Animal Transfer Data
    • Enrichment Data Transfer Form
  5. Captive Husbandry - Reproduction
    • The Need for Captive Breeding
    • Captive Breeding in Zoos
    • Goals of Captive Breeding
    • Issues with Captive Breeding
    • Inbreeding Risks
    • Captive Breeding Programs
    • Monitoring the Reproductive Status of Zoo Animals
    • Assisted Reproduction
    • Stud Books
    • Birth Control and Separation
  6. Captive Husbandry - Behaviour and Enrichment
    • Ethology
    • Behaviour
    • Types of Behaviour
    • Behaviours in Captive Animals
    • Learned Behaviour
    • The Flight or Fight Response
    • Animal Behaviours
    • Animal Welfare Indicators
    • Environmental Influence on Behaviour
    • Behaviour Management
    • Environmental Enrichment
  7. Human-Animal Interactions
    • Keeper-Animal Interactions
    • Visitor Animal Interactions
    • Dealing with Dangerous Animals
    • Flight Distance of Animals
    • Handling Animals
    • Visitor Animal Interactions
    • Stress Reduction
  8. Enclosure Design and Maintenance
    • Optimum Enclosure Design
    • The Perfect Enclosure?
    • Replicating Nature
    • Providing Stimulating Environments
    • Physical Enrichment
    • Feeding Enrichment
    • Sensory Enrichment
    • Social Enrichment
  9. Problem-based Learning Project - Environmental Enrichment
    • Introduction and Definition of PBL
    • Problem Definition
    • Team Structure and Interaction
    • Discussion
    • Resources
    • Guidelines
    • Final Report

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe the nature and scope of zoos as a source of education and conservation
  • Develop appropriate procedures to manage occupational health and safety in a zoo, minimising risk to staff, animals and visitors
  • Describe nutritional requirements and feeding preferences of animals in zoos
  • Determine health management measures required for a range of different captive zoo animals
  • Describe management of breeding in zoos
  • Determine appropriate ways to manage a range of different wild animals in zoos
  • Explain procedures and techniques to manage human-animal interactions in zoos
  • Identify and describe qualities of good enclosure design.
  • Develop maintenance programs for different enclosures

Scope of Zoos Today

Today, wild animals are kept in a wide range of settings. These include:

  • Zoos or zoological gardens
  • Open range zoos or safari parks,
  • Aquariums
  • Roadside Zoos
  • Petting Zoos
  • Amusement Parks
  • Private collections.

Many modern zoos have a common ethos of contributing to education, conservation and research while providing entertainment to visitors.

The Importance of Field Experience

It does not matter where or how you study zoo keeping - a course is only ever going to be part of what you need to be successful in obtaining a job.

We strongly recommend that you try to undertake relevant field experience while studying this course. This will help to reinforce the information you have learnt and provide invaluable experience understanding the workings of zoos. If you cannot get work experience at a zoo you might try to get experience with a wildlife rescue group, the RSPCA, with a wildlife carer or veterinary surgery.

Combined with some practical experience, this course is an excellent foundation, giving you a much better chance of success than what you would have with either one alone.

ACS Student Comment:

"I'm getting positive comments with notes on things I missed, so I think that is helpful. I'm learning a lot about zoo keeping and am able to see its value as I go about my volunteer zoo work. I'm loving the course. Thanks for the opportunity." Jo-Anna Apelt - Zoo Keeping course.

Get started

If you want to learn more about zoos and zoo keeping;
If you want to learn how to keep animals healthy and happy;
If you want to improve your career opportunities and job prospects;
... then this is the course for you! 
Enrol now in this 100 hour Zoo Keeping course and achieve your dreams!



Register to Study - Go to panel toward top of this page (right column) to enrol.


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Meet some of our academics

Dr Robert BrowneZoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design.Robert has B.Sc., Ph, D.
Dr. Gareth PearceVeterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation. Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.
Bob JamesHorticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, PDC

Check out our eBooks

BirdsLearn to identify birds -made easier The foundation for understanding and identifying birds is to learn the 29 orders that birds fall into; and the characteristics of each of those orders. This book gives you that foundation in a way that is easy to understand.
Animal PsychologyComparative Animal Psychology. This is an excellent reference for anyone interested in understanding animals better; students, animal owners and anyone who works with animals.
Marine AnimalsA heavily illustrated text with seven chapters including: classification, fishes, sea birds, marine reptiles, marine mammals, marine invertebrates, and zooplankton. 110 pages, 133 colour photos
Animal HealthA book for anyone interested in animal health, from pet owners to farmers. Contents cover understanding health issues, disease and injury prevention, inspecting animals, differential diagnosis and common illnesses. Animals can suffer from injury, poisoning, hereditary conditions, nutritional problems and viral, bacterial and fungal infections. 77 pages.