Zoo Academy FAQs

How much does it cost per student?

The cost per student is £575. This needs to be paid in full once we confirm your application has been successful.

What's included in the cost of the course?

  • ZSL Zoo Academy is an eight-day course which includes study sessions on different exotic species and more than twenty hours practical experience at the zoo where your course is based.
  • Supported by the education and keeping staff, participants will also complete an evidence portfolio of their work. On completion of the course to a satisfactory level students will receive a certificate and reference statement.
  • Discount in zoo cafe and main shop (valid for duration of course).
  • Two complimentary tickets for family to enter the zoo and attend graduation on final day of the course.
  • “Zoo Academy” hoody or t-shirt for each student.

What are the age restrictions?
Places for each course are limited to 12 students aged 15-17 years old. Participants must be at least 15 years when they start the course and not have turned 18 years old by the end of the course.

How do I book a place on the Zoo Academy? 
We take applications for the courses in September of the year before the courses run. These applications will then be reviewed and applicants are contacted and told whether their application has been successful. See course dates and for application details.

What personal qualities does the student need? 
Students need to be hard working and happy to be outside in all weather conditions. You will be working with other young people, education and keeping staff, so you must be a good team player and be willing to take part in a range of practical and classroom based activities.

Will the practical tasks be suitable for 15-17 year olds?
We have carefully selected practical tasks that are enjoyable yet appropriate for a group of young people. We risk assess all tasks and training is given to all participants. This allows you to gain exciting experiences of working in a zoological collection in a safe and managed way.

How many students take part on the course?
Each ZSL Zoo Academy course is designed for 12 students. Many will be like you and want to pursue a career working with animals in a variety of different fields. This course is designed to enable young people to gain practical experience in a zoological collection. The whole course is supervised by a member of the education team to ensure an enjoyable, yet safe experience for all participants.

What is expected from the students?
We expect exemplary behaviour from all participants, towards each other, zoo visitors, the education and keeping staff as well as our animals!

Failure to behave in the expected manner could lead to removal from the course. ZSL reserves the right to remove a participant from the course for:

  • Persistent lateness (more than 3 times)
  • Unsociable behaviour
  • Endangering themselves and/or others
  • Compromising animal welfare

What happens if I am ill during the course? 
If for any reason you cannot attend then please phone the Education department before 9.30am on the day of the course and leave a message. Please state your name, contact telephone number and the reason you are unable to attend. London: 0207 449 6501; Whipsnade: 01582 871514

When is payment required?
Once your application has been accepted we will require full payment to secure your place on the course. A member of the ZSL team will contact your parent or guardian with regards to the payment, please ensure you have their permission before applying.

Can I smoke during the course? 
Smoking will not be allowed for the duration of the day 10.30am – 3pm.

Is lunch and refreshments included? 
No, you will need to bring your own packed lunch and drinks for each day of the course. Food is also available to purchase within the zoo café.
You will be allowed free time at lunch to eat and explore the zoo. (Unless otherwise stated by your parent/guardian)

What clothing and equipment will I need to bring with me? 
Due to bio-security, you need to change into your work wear when you are in the zoo, and change back before you leave the zoo each day. 
Please make sure you bring the following items to every session. If you are unsure please ring 0207 449 6501 (London) or 01582 871514 (Whipsnade) before the course starts.

  • Wellington boots
  • Sensible footwear – e.g. sturdy work boots
  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers (optional)
  • Dark trousers (not jeans)
  • Dark top – dress in layers so you can remove as appropriate when working
  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Stationery – pens/pencils (a folder for your work will be provided)

Can I bring a camera with me? 
Part of the course involves compiling a portfolio of your practical and theory work at the zoo. It is suggested that you bring your own camera so you can record the tasks you are involved with, a small one would be best. Members of the zoo staff will also take pictures to record the activities.

The zoo takes no responsibility for loss or damage of personal clothing and equipment including cameras.

Will I be able to provide feedback on the course? 
To aid the constant improvement of the ZSL Zoo Academy course we will ask you to fill in a number of evaluation forms throughout the duration of the course.

Will I be assessed during the course? 
We require you to fill in all the worksheets, diary and photographic entries before the end of the course. We will then give you a certificate of completion and a written reference stating that you have fulfilled all the aims of the course.

You will be able to keep the portfolio as evidence of your time at ZSL London Zoo or ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and hopefully use it at future university or college interviews and to aid your career with animals.