Opening times

Availability throughout the year (either consecutive Saturdays or Monday-Friday)

Type of place

Zoo Academy is a five-day course which allows students to gain experience and knowledge in working at Whipsnade Zoo. 

A packed timetable covers the different aspects of caring for exotic animals in captivity, including nutrition, training and breeding programmes while gaining more than 12 hours of practical experience.

Our exciting animal-based course is designed for 15–17-year old’s who wish to enter animal-based careers such as zoo keeping or pursue other animal science related careers and studies including vets and vet nurses.

This course provides an invaluable opportunity to work in the Zoo, meet ZSL staff, see behind-the scenes and understand how to care for exotic species, and learn about the conservation work across ZSL. 

Your Zoo Academy course includes

  • Five days at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
  • Theory sessions and practical activities in the zoo
  • Access to digital ‘Zoo Academy’ worksheets and resources
  • A ‘Zoo Academy’ certificate of attendance
  • A digital 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

Zoo Academy course details

Course length: Five days
Time: 10.30am-4pm for the course duration (entry to the Zoo from 10am)
Location: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Cost: £475 (ZSL Gold MembersPatrons and Fellows receive a 10% discount on this experience. Please enter your CRM ID in the Offer Code box.  To manage your booking please visit
Capacity: 12 places available per course
Age range: 15-17 year-olds

Book now

A group of Zoo Academy participants holding browse to feed animals

The Zoo Academy experience 

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, their care and conservation.

On completion of the course to a satisfactory level, students will receive a certificate and reference statement. They will also be able to download extension activities and photographs of the activities which can be used as evidence in future work, university or college interviews to support their career with animals.

Please note that although Zoo Academy offers practical experience and an insight into working at the Zoo, we are unable to complete any forms relating to work experience for this course.

Please see a sample schedule below (please note this is just an example and is subject to change)


"My young person had a amazing time at the Zoo Academy, every day on our journey home she has told me about how wonderful the day was.  Thank you, and the other staff, for sharing your knowledge, skills and passion, and for giving my young person the encouragement, support and confidence to join in the activities, to speak out in front of people, she is now absolutely determined to work as a zoo keeper!"


Whipsnade Zoo Academy course dates 

Saturday courses (Every Saturday for 5 weeks)
  • 24/02/2024 - 23/03/2024 
  • 20/04/2024 - 18/05/2024 
  • 08/06/2024 - 06/07/2024
  • 14/09/2024 - 12/10/2024
  • 09/11/2024 - 07/12/2024
Weekday courses (Monday-Friday)
  • 15/07/2024 - 19/07/2024 - SOLD OUT
  • 22/07/2024 - 26/07/2024 - SOLD OUT
  • 29/07/2024 - 02/08/2024
  • 05/08/2024 - 09/08/2024
  • 12/08/2024 - 16/08/2024
  • 19/08/2024 - 23/08/2024

Please note, this course is not part of a work experience programme.

How we'll keep you safe...

Full instruction and support will be provided for all activities. Overalls will be provided for practical activities where appropriate, however students will need to bring their own boots – for instance, walking boots or wellies (this should be a different pair to the shoes used to walk around the zoo). There are some areas where masks must be worn, however, all PPE will be provided.

Terms and Conditions

Places are sold on a first-come, first-served basis and you will be provided with a parental consent form with your ticket which must be returned to ZSL to confirm your place. Please note your child will not be able to participate in Zoo Academy unless we have received the consent form. Consent forms must be returned no later than two weeks before the course. Once payment has been taken, refunds cannot be given, and dates cannot be swapped (unless the student has been instructed to self-isolate and will miss the duration of the course).

If you have any queries or questions about the course, feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].

Frequently asked questions

Book Whipsnade Zoo Academy (15-17 year-olds)

Three Zoo Academy participants smiling as they use shovels in an animal habitat

Whipsnade Zoo Academy (15-17 year-olds)

This five-day course allows students to gain experience and knowledge.