Work Experience Programme

Opportunities to gain real world experience are useful and rewarding, providing the chance to develop both personally and professionally. Here at Colchester Zoo we want to be able to assist in providing these opportunities and help with career progression for people who are passionate about working with animals.

For all our placements we are looking for people who are:

  • Genuinely interest in all aspects of animal husbandry and conservation
  • Willing to engage with all forms of learning and make the most of opportunities offered whilst on placement
  • Willing and able to work individually and as part of a team
  • Able to financially support themselves for the duration on the placement period.

Placements are based on one animal section and follow zoo operational hours (40 hours per week) with placements taking place for 5 days out of 7 on a rotational basis, including weekends. Places are granted following an application and an assessment process.

Applicants can indicate which animal taxa they would prefer to focus on during their placement, however due to the nature of the Zoo’s layout, animal sections cover multiple taxa. This means there isn’t a team that exclusive looks after big cats or hoofstock. For example the team we call Tigers have birds, reptiles, primates, inverts, hoofstock as well as tigers.

The placement focus animal taxa are:

  • Hoofstock
  • Carnivores
  • Birds
  • Elephants
  • Sea lions
  • Reptiles
  • Small Mammals
  • Primates

All of our placements are unpaid voluntary roles and we are unable to provide accommodation. Places available are limited and each place is offered subject to a successful application process.

Colchester Zoo offers block placements only of:

This placement is only available to people who are enrolled on an animal related course and are required to complete an industry placement as part of the course.
 
You must be 17 years old or older to apply. Placements can take place at any time of the year (between January and December 2022), as long as you are able to complete the 10 weeks as a block.
 
Applications are open from October through to early December, for placements to start the following year. Applications will be reviewed and assessed as they are submitted.
 
Requirements:
• 17 years old or older
• Enrolled on, or have completed a QCA recognised animal/conservation based course
• Able to attend full-time, 5 days, on placement per week which may include weekends

How to Apply
Applications open 04.10.2021 and close 11:59pm on the 05.12.2021. Please note, the application form is only accessible during this time period.

To apply, please send your CV and a completed application form, to lee@colchesterzoo.org

Apply HERE
 
If you have not heard from us within 2 weeks of submitting your CV and application form, please assume you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.
If your application is accepted you will be contacted with details of how to progress to the next stage of the selection assessment.
Placements are only granted following application and a successful selection assessment.
These placements are available to people who are enrolled on or who have completed an animal related qualification. These placements offer opportunities to gain practical experience to build on theory and gain insight into working with animals in a zoological setting.
You must be 17 years old or older to apply. Placements can take place at any time of the year (between January and December 2022), as long as you are able to complete either a block of 3 months or 6 months.

Applications are open from October through to early December, for placements to start the following year. Applications will be reviewed and assessed as they are submitted.

Requirements:
• 17 years old or older
• Enrolled on, or have completed a QCA recognised animal/conservation based course
• Able to attend full-time, 5 days, on placement per week which may include weekends

How to Apply:
Applications open 04.10.2021 and close 11:59pm on the 05.12.2021. Please note, the application form is only accessible during this time period.

To apply, please send your CV and a complete application form, which can be download via the link below, to lee@colchesterzoo.org

Apply HERE

If you have not heard from us within 2 weeks of submitting your CV and application form, please assume you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.
If your application is accepted you will be contacted with details of how to progress to the next stage of selection assessment.
Placements are only granted following application and a successful selection assessment.
We are no longer accepting applications for 2021-2022 Student Keeper Programme.

The Student Keeper Programme is a yearlong placement undertaken within our animal keeping sections. Alongside the hands on practical learning, there is a full formal learning programme allow you to expand your knowledge and gain an insight into the theory of zoo animal husbandry as well as developing professional skills.
 
Subject areas include Nutrition, Welfare, Ethics, Enclosure Design, Business as well as many more.
 
Applications open in March and close in the May each year. Please note, the application form is only accessible during this time period.
 
The placement period runs from the August and ends in the July of the following year.

Requirements:
• 18 years old or older
• Enrolled on, or have completed an accredited animal/conservation based course
• Minimum QCA recognised level 3 diploma
• Able to attend full-time, 5 days, on placement per week which may include weekends

Student Keeper Testimony
I had dreamed of being a zookeeper as a child, and enjoyed regular visits to Colchester Zoo. I was lucky enough to be offered a Student Keeper placement, working on the sea lion section, which involved caring for Patagonian sea lions and Humboldt penguins.

Before starting the programme, I was expecting to learn how to look after the species on my section, and the different skills that are needed to work in a zoological environment. However, by the time I finished at Colchester Zoo I had gained so much extra knowledge and learned new skills that I hadn’t expected. As well as gaining experience on section, I also expanded my knowledge of zoos during the workshops with the education team.
Working directly on section really made me feel like part of the team, and I became good friends with the keepers on my section and the other student keepers. Since finishing the programme, I have been working as a trainee keeper at a different zoo. The skills and experience I gained from the course were vital for securing the job, and I still use things I learnt at Colchester Zoo on a regular basis. I have decided to study for a master’s in conservation and biodiversity. The animal experience I gained from the programme helped with my application, and I am expecting to use the knowledge I acquired by working with animals in my studies.


Annette Coster

Please note: 
All of our placements are unpaid voluntary roles and we are unable to provide accommodation.
Places available are limited and each place is offered subject to an application process.
If your application is accepted you will be contacted after the closing date with details of how to progress to the next stage of selection assessment.

We do not host short term placements (i.e. 2 weeks) or one day a week placements.

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