Zoo Academy (15-17 year olds)

zoo academyZSL Zoo Academy is an eight-day course which includes study sessions on different exotic species and more than 20 hours practical experience in the zoo. Our exciting animal-based course is designed for 15-17 year olds who wish to become vets, vet nurses, zoo keepers or pursue other animal related careers and studies.

Culminating in a graduation ceremony on the last day, this course provides an invaluable opportunity to work in the Zoo, meet ZSL staff, see behind-the scenes and understand more about exotic species and their care.

Your course includes

  • Eight days at ZSL London Zoo or ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
  • Theory sessions and practical experience in the zoo
  • A ‘Zoo Academy’ portfolio and worksheets
  • A ‘Zoo Academy’ certificate of attendance
  • A reference on ZSL headed paper
  • A copy of all photos taken on the course
  • A unique ‘Zoo Academy’ hoody
  • Two complimentary tickets for family or friends on graduation day


The Zoo Academy course is designed to enable young people to gain practical experience in a zoological collection as well as learn more about exotic species and their care. Each day runs from 10.30 to 15.00.

Supported by the education and keeping staff, students will complete an evidence portfolio of their theory and practical work. Students will be able to keep their portfolios as evidence of their time at ZSL and hopefully use them at future university or college interviews to aid their career with animals. On completion of the course to a satisfactory level students will receive a certificate and reference statement.

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 & Reptiles

Session 2: Small Mammals & Domestics

Session 3: Birds

Session 4: Conservation

Session 5: Primates

Session 6: Carnivores

Session 7: Large mammals

Session 8: Enrichment & 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.


2019 Dates

  • Summer term: 27th April – 29th June 2019 (Saturdays only. Half term break 25th May and 1st June) SOLD OUT
  • Summer holiday course 1: 15th – 24th July 2019 (weekdays only) SOLD OUT
  • Summer holiday course 2: 29th July – 7th August 2019 (weekdays only) SOLD OUT
  • Summer holiday course 3: 12th – 21st August 2019 (weekdays only) SOLD OUT
  • Autumn term: 21st September – 23rd November 2019 (Saturdays only. Half term break 19th and 26th October) SOLD OUT

All courses are currently sold out for 2019. Applications for 2020 courses will open this coming Autumn. If you would like to be notified as soon as applications open, please consider joining our mailing list. If this interests you, please contact zooacademylz@zsl.org.


  • £575 per student.

This must be paid in full to secure your place on one of the course.




Apply for Zoo Academy at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


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