Advanced Certificate in Zoo Keeping

Learn to manage captive animals - in zoos, wildlife reserves, parks, conservation, refuges or elsewhere. Study biology, behaviour, health care, and more.

Course Code: VEN023
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Zoos at the forefront of promoting Global Conservation

Our understanding of the complex associations between animals and their environment is continuously expanding.  Conservation, however, is not as simple as protecting species and habitats – a global, cooperative approach is needed for successful conservation; and this is where Zoos come in…

Zoos have a major role to play in helping conservation on a global scale because they have a global network, caring for and specialising in animals from all over the world.

Zoo Keepers have the opportunity to be involved in a multitude of conservation activities including breeding, reintroduction and translocation programs, research, training and public education.

Why choose our course?

This course is different to many others because It is an "experiential based" course; designed to get you involved with a variety of industry professionals, while exploring the nature and scope of Zoo Keeping. Inherent in the course are tasks for students to undertake which can be self-directed to your local area or personal interests.

Obtain the skills for a career in Zoo Keeping


This terrific Advanced Certificate in Zoo Keeping gives you a head start above the rest, providing you with knowledge in:

  • animal health care
  • zoo keeping 
  • vertebrate zoology
  • animal behaviour
with the choice of four electives which can move your focus from marine animals to natural health care, animal breeding, ornithology or wildlife conservation.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Zoo Keeping.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Vertebrate Zoology BEN104
 Animal Behaviour BAG203
 Zoo Keeping BEN208
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 4 of the following 18 modules.
 Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Aquarium Management BEN105
 Communications VWR100
 Introduction To Ecology BEN101
 Marine Studies I BEN103
 Ornithology BEN102
 Animal Diseases BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Animal Welfare BAG224
 Herpetology BEN209
 Marine Studies II BEN203
 Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
 Primatology (Primate Animals) BEN210
 Wildlife Conservation BEN206
 Wildlife Management BEN205
 Animal Breeding BAG301
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
 Marsupials Biology and Management BEN303

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Zoo Keeping is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Industry Project Explained:

This part of the course can be satisfied by attending seminars, conferences or trade shows (ie. industry meetings) or through appropriate work experience. 

Why do we have Zoos?


With changing attitudes towards zoos over the past 30 years, zoos have had to reconsider their purpose and function. Zoos now have to justify their reasons for keeping animals in captivity.  Many zoos now recognise three main reasons for keeping animals in zoos, other than for recreational purposes. These are:

• Conservation
• Education
• Research


Having intimate access to a variety of animals, zoos are in the desirable position of being able to conduct research and acquire knowledge of these animals and how they live. Research undertaken in zoos is an important part of their conservation strategies. It is now a legal requirement in the UK for zoos to be involved in research that help meet conservation goals. Many of the larger zoos are involved in research which covers a wide range of areas such as

  • Animal Health and Nutrition
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Animal Husbandry Techniques
  • Visitor Experiences
  • Cooperative Research into Conservation of Threatened Species
  • Recovery of Wildlife
  • Genetics
  • Reproduction 
  • Self Assessment – how the zoo can improve particular functions.

Many of these zoos share their research information with other zoos and wildlife researchers. This is very important for the improved welfare of both captive and wild animals as well as increasing the effectiveness of zoos. Research can also form the basis for educational resources provided to zoo visitors and the general public.

What is a Good Enclosure?

The optimum design for a zoo enclosure is not necessarily one that replicates the natural habitat of an animal. In reality, enclosure design is generally a compromise between the needs of the animal, zoo keeper and visitors. An enclosure should provide enough space so that the animal does not feel vulnerable or threatened. Flight distances of particular species should be taken into consideration during the design process. Enclosures should also meet the animal’s physiological and psychological needs while allowing zoo staff to carry out routine husbandry procedures safely. Visitors should also enjoy their experience at the enclosure and hopefully learn more about the animal through observation.

What does it take to be a Zoo Keeper?

The fundamental duty of a Zoo Keeper is to inspire their audience to reach a level of understanding and respect for animals and their habitat that is so deep that they will become passionate about conservation.

If you have a passion for wildlife and are committed to improving the care, welfare and conservation of animals then this is the career for you.

How to build a successful career in Zoo Keeping

1. Recognise where the jobs are
You don't find zoos in every neighbourhood; and you may not always get the sort of job you hope for, in the location you envisaged. The skills you develop in this course may make you into an attractive employee for any zoo; but if there are ten attractive employees trying to get the same job; nine are going to miss out.
If you are prepared to compromise by taking a different type of job or relocating to a different area; you may find your career opportunities are far broader. This course will give you broad skills in caring for animals that can be used with animals in areas beyond just zoos (eg. wildlife rescue, veterinary services, pet care, farm animal work). Often the most successful zoo keepers start out by doing something quite different to what they had hoped for; but through the experience in that other job, they were able to become the most attractive applicant for the job they really wanted, at a later date.

2. Recognise that training is most important for what you learn.
Sometimes, having a qualification can be important; but more often, being able to identify and care for different types of animals, is what employers and clients value more.

3. Recognise that training is only one piece of the puzzle.
Just as a car cannot run without petrol; a qualification in zoo keeping won't guarantee a career, without experience and networking. It doesn't matter whether your experience is voluntary or paid; working for yourself, or someone else; manual labour or something more than that -any experience with animals is a big advantage over no experience.

4. Become "connected"
Ongoing success in a Zoo Keeping career can be facilitated if you become "connected".  Networking within the industry will provide the basis to remain "connected", so that you can evolve and adapt to changes as your career moves forward.

Student Testimonial

Student Feedback- Zoo Keeping Course
"Hi ACS,
I did the Zoo keeping subject this year and really loved it.  I volunteer at a local zoo, and the keepers and zoo curator were very supportive and helpful with my studies.
But here is the awesome part for you (and me). I just had the zoo curator ring up asking for the details for the course, to recommend it to another volunteer.  She told me it was a really great course and thinks it is a fantastic starting point for further animal studies.  And to make this praise even more impressive, she has a Doctorate in Animal Biology.  Very high, and deserved praise indeed.
I will admit, I have never done as well in any study (and I have a Bachelor in Accounting, so I have studied at many levels) as I have in this course.  I guess it’s true, if you love what you are studying and doing, you will do so much better at it.
Jo-Anna Apelt"

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

How can I start this course?

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Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

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More information is here

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary 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.

Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, 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.

Alison Pearce (Agri & Animal)

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

Alison has a BSc (Hon) Animal Science.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Megan Cox

Megan has completed a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Conservation) with Honours from Writtle University College, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Countryside Management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her experience includes working as a Botanist, Ecologist, Head Gardener, Market Gardener and a Farming and Conservation Officer.

She has worked in various roles in Horticulture, Agriculture and Ecology since 2005. Megan has worked for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs among other organisations in the UK, as well as in Australia and Cambodia.

Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS Agriculture, Wildlife and Ecotourism students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, a Quality Assurance Manager, a Research Technician, and has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

Maria Schmitz Fontes

Maria has extensive experience in Environmental Science working in the private and public sectors. She has 6 years of experience teaching graduate and post-graduate students subjects as Marine Pollution, Microbial Ecology, Geochemistry, Oceanography, Methods in Aquatic Science and Benthic Ecology. She has published over 20 scientific articles and book chapters. She has also coordinated an innovative project in bioenergy production using simple-cheap methods to isolate microbes in laboratory. She has collaborated with scientists of Climate Change Cluster Group from University of Technology Sydney and has current interests in areas such as: sustainability and clean energy.

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