Zoo Academy (15-17 year olds)

ZSL Zoo Academy is an eight-day course which includes study sessions on different exotic species and more than twenty hours practical experience. Our exciting animal based courses is designed for 15-17 year olds who wish to become vets, vet nurses, zoo keepers or complete other animal related studies.

Applications for Zoo Academy At ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have now closed.

zoo academy

Who are the courses aimed at?

These courses are designed to enable young people to gain practical experience in a zoological collection. Supported by the education and keeping staff, students will complete an evidence portfolio of their work. On completion of the course to a satisfactory level students will receive a certificate and reference statement.

Students will be able to keep their portfolios as evidence of their time at ZSL London Zoo or ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and hopefully use them at future university or college interviews and to aid their career with animals.

Theory sessions

These sessions will focus on the animal groups the students will be working alongside during the course, covering elements of anatomy, classification, behaviour, nutrition, handling and restraint. The students will complete written activities to add to their portfolios.

Practical sessions (ZSL London Zoo)

Session 1: Induction & Invertebrates

Session 2: Reptiles

Session 3: 

Mammals 1

Session 4: Birds

Session 5: Primates

Session 6: Mammals 2

Session 7: Conservation & Aquatics

Session 8: Carnivores & Graduation

Practical tasks at ZSL London Zoo will include handling invertebrates and reptiles, cleaning out the giraffe enclosure, preparing food for a variety of species, making enrichment for carnivores and completing a behaviour study of squirrel monkeys.

Practical sessions (ZSL Whipsnade Zoo)

Session 1: Induction & Invertebrates

Session 2: Small Mammals

Session 3: Birds

Session 4: Primates

Session 5: Reptiles

Session 6: Carnivores

Session 7: Large mammals

Session 8: Conservation & Graduation

Practical tasks at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will include handling invertebrates and reptiles, cleaning out white rhinos, preparing food for a variety of species, making enrichment for carnivores and carrying out a behaviour study of chimpanzees.


On the final day of the course, family and friends of the students are invited to attend ZSL Zoo Academy Graduation. One of our senior animal department staff will present certificates and there will be a short presentation about the course. Two complimentary zoo tickets will be given to each student so that family and friends can gain free entry on the graduation day. Additional friends and family can attend the graduation, but they must pay the full admission price.

Application Process

To apply for a place on one of the Zoo Academy courses, we will ask you to submit an application form. Places are not given on a first come, first served basis so we use these application forms to select participants. Therefore, please use this form to let us know why you would make an excellent Zoo Academy student. The form will ask you for your preference of dates as well as some information about you and why you want to do the course.

Dates for 2016 Courses

There will be six courses running throughout 2016. Three of these will run on consecutive Saturdays and three will run on weekdays in the summer holidays:

  • Spring Term: 16th January - 19th March 2016 (Saturdays only; no course on 13th & 20th February for half term)
  • Summer Term: 30th April - 2nd July 2016 (Saturdays only; no course on 28th May & 4th June for half term)
  • Summer Holiday Course 1: 18th-27th July 2016 (weekdays only)
  • Summer Holiday Course 2: 1st - 10th August 2016 (weekdays only)
  • Summer Holiday Course 3: 15th - 24th August 2016 (weekdays only)
  • Autumn Term: 24th September - 26th November 2016 (Saturdays only; no course on 22nd & 29th October for half term)


Terms and Conditions

We aim to acknowledge your application within one week of receipt. Due to limited space on these courses we cannot guarantee that all applicants will be successful. Payment instructions and further details will be provided to successful applicants by email. Once payment has been taken, refunds cannot be given. 

Frequently asked questions


£575 per student. This must be paid in full to secure your place on one of the courses

15-17 year olds

Applications for Zoo Academy have now closed.