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 2017 at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will open on Monday 19th September 2016 and will remain open until Friday 7th October 2016.

Please email zooacademylz@zsl.org to be added to our mailing list for more information about this, and similar, courses.

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 reindeer enclosure, meeting the giraffes, 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 online 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 2017 Courses

There will be six courses running throughout 2017. Three of these will run on consecutive Saturdays and three will run on weekdays in the summer holidays:

  • Spring Term: 14th January - 18th March 2017 (Saturdays only; no course on 11th & 18th February for half term)
  • Summer Term: 29th April - 1st July 2017 (Saturdays only; no course on 27th May & 3rd June for half term)
  • Summer Holiday Course 1: 17th-26th July 2017 (weekdays only)
  • Summer Holiday Course 2: 31st July - 9th August 2017 (weekdays only)
  • Summer Holiday Course 3: 14th - 23rd August 2017 (weekdays only)
  • Autumn Term: 23rd September - 25th November 2017 (Saturdays only; no course on 21st & 28th 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

Apply now