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Zoo Animal Welfare course

Course fee: £425.00

UK Rural Skills

Accredited by

rhino conservation
chimpanzee in captivity
tiger enrichment

The focus of the zoo animal welfare course is to show that welfare needs to consider a multitude of factors from physiology to psychology and behaviour both species-specific and individual. 


As the subject area is vast this course uses enclosure design as an example of how welfare needs to be considered. Enclosure design should be for the captive animals and not that of human needs and convenience. Animal behaviour and species-specific needs are the main criteria that should be used to design enclosures.

There are 6 units with this course including an introduction to animal behaviour. The level of demand is high and for unit 6 you have a choice of doing a practical investigation of zoo animal accommodation or a desk-based critical investigation of the legislation of keeping such animals in captivity.


Who is this course for? Anyone working with zoo animals wanting to improve their understanding of animal needs; those who wish to move into a different career and, those who need CPD to demonstrate self-directed learning and ability. There is a practical element to this course. Zoo animal welfare is one of our courses which can be used as evidence for higher education applications according to the standards set by a college of Further and Higher Education.


The approximate learning hours for this course are 150. These figures do not include own research and self-learning activities to support the unit content or, assignment work. This is a demanding course that will stretch abilities and provide the opportunity to produce work expected at level 5 study.

Course fee: £425.00


Instalments: these are made by standing order at £62.50 p.c.m. and can be tailored to individual requirements.

Try unit 1 first for £42.50 before committing to the whole course.

Click here for payment options


Course materials are sent via email but paper copies are available for an additional fee of £15 per unit. Postage charges may need to be added depending on your location.

Time limit to complete this course?

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Course content

 Unit 1 Introduction to animal behaviour


Content summary

  • Imprinting and innate behaviour

  • Learning theories and behaviour

  • Ethology - why a behaviour occurs, its causes and development

  • Factors affecting learning

Unit 2 Physiology and behaviour


Content summary

  • Nervous and endocrine system

  • Brain structure

  • Autonomic & sympathetic nervous systems

  • Homeostasis - Negative & Positive Feedback

  • Neurotransmitters

  • Endocrine glands and hormones

Unit 3 Physiological signs of stress


Content summary

  • Recognising stress

  • Physiological measurements

  • Cortisol concentrations

  • Stressors - intensity and type

  • Individual responses

  • Species' responses

  • Analysis of responses

Unit 4   Social systems & behavioural needs


Content summary

  • Social arrangements

  • Social systems

  • Physiological needs

  • Psychological needs

  • Species-specific needs

tiger at Howletts

Bontebok antelope in a reserve near Swellendam South Africa

Unit 5 Identifying, assessing & evaluating enclosure design


Content summary

  • Enclosure observation and assessment

  • Example designs

  • Design quality - species-specific needs

  • Enclosure evaluation - justifying improvements

Unit 6 (a) Zoos and the Law


Content summary

  • UK Zoo Licensing Act (1981)

  • UK Animal Welfare Act (2006)

  • USA Animal Welfare Act ((1966)

  • Asia and South East Asia

  • Australia

  • Self-regulation

  • Weaknesses in laws and animals in captive care


Unit 6 (b) Practical Investigation of Zoo Animal Accommodation


This alternative unit to unit 6 (a) involves an investigation and reporting of zoo animal accommodation. You will visit at least one location where normally wild animals are kept, examine and record examples of accommodation and produce a detailed report of one of these examples.

The report will need to show understanding and application of the species' ecology and other needs and a critical analysis of as to the degree of suitability of the accommodation.

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