View form the Zoo: Course gives taste of life as a zoo keeper

Here at Flamingo Land we offer a keeper academy course that allows 15-17 year olds to obtain practical experience with animals and find out what it’s like to be a zoo keeper. Practical experience is an absolute necessity for anyone wishing to pursue a career with animals and this can often be difficult to obtain. 

The course runs over three days from 9.30am-3.30pm. Each day includes at least three hours of practical work, as well as theory sessions with our education team. Students will work with a variety of species, completing tasks such as preparing food, cleaning enclosures and designing enrichment items. Theory sessions will focus on the species that the students will be working with, covering a diverse range of topics from anatomy to enclosure design. Students will receive a certificate of completion and a written reference detailing the work carried out. The course is offered on set dates every year and the itinerary can vary each time depending on where help is needed by the keepers and also depending on the season.

For our course held in August, the students’ first day involved a general introduction and a tour of the zoo to welcome them to the course. They then spent the rest of the day helping the keepers on the paddocks and farm sections which included tasks such as feeding the hippos, cleaning out the giraffe, zebra and white rhino enclosures and pony walking.

On day two the students helped out with the penguins and our children’s planet section, followed by an encounter with the lemurs and a couple of theory sessions on careers in the zoo and animal behaviour. The students also got to talk to our resident vet nurse and create some ice lollies as enrichment to hand out to certain animals the next day.

The last day involved helping with sections such as Africa which included cleaning the scimitar-horned oryx enclosure and meeting the black rhinos, cleaning the wallabies walkthrough and helping in the aquarium. The students also had their final theory session on anatomy and classification and were able to give out their ice lollies made for the baboons and lemurs. Lastly was a meet a creature session in the education centre and then the presentation of their certificates before going home.

We currently have dates available in the October half term which will be our last course for this year.