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.


2020 dates

More dates will be released if there is demand - please email zooacademylz@zsl.org to be put on the mailing list for updates

ZSL London Zoo: Saturday 18th January 2020 - SOLD OUT (more 2020 dates to be released in due course)

Book now for ZSL London Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo: Booking now for all courses:

Book now for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Once payment has been taken, refunds cannot be given and dates cannot be swapped.


  • £575 per student.

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



ZSL London Zoo

SOLD OUT - (more 2020 dates to be released in due course)

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Saturday Course 1: Every Saturday, 7th March – 25th April 2020

Saturday Course 2: Every Saturday, 2nd May – 27th June 2020 (excluding 23rd May 2020)

Saturday Course 3: Every Saturday, 26th September – 28th November 2020 (excluding 24th & 31st October)

Summer Course 1: 20th July – 29th July 2020 (excluding weekends)

Summer Course 2: 3rd August – 12th August 2020 (excluding weekends)

Summer Course 3: 17th August – 26th August 2020 (excluding weekends)