Animal Care Modules

Animal Care Modules will follow Covid-secure guidelines including: education staff wearing PPE, extensive cleaning procedures, and distancing in teaching spaces and during your tour. Please familiarise yourself with our Covid 19 – Key Points for Animal Care sessions in order to understand more specific procedures and restrictions we will be following as part of your tour and session.

To discuss what we can provide for your students, please contact our Education Department directly by email

These modules are designed for students studying animal care on an FE level course. They provide detailed and specific information and allow access to areas of the zoo not normally available for the public to view.
If you have HE level students, please contact us at to discuss how we could adapt these sessions to meet your student’s needs.

These modular sessions enable you to get the perfect combination of topics for your animal care course. Choose two modules for a full day trip or if you are just visiting for half a day, book one module. Sessions are for a maximum of 30 participants (students and teachers) , but we can run multiple sessions if you have a larger group.

Animal Care Modules are usually only available to book from September through March on weekdays during Essex County term time. If you are interested in these sessions outside these times please contact our Education Department directly by email to discuss if this would be possible.

Please ensure all adult leaders and students are familiar with the Animal Care Module risk assessment guidelines below:

Animal Care Module Risk Assessment Guidelines (click to download).

Modules Available:

Each module is 2 hours. One hour is spent in a classroom setting providing background information and an introduction to the topic. The other hour is out in the zoo participating in a tailored behind-the-scenes experience.

In order to accommodate these behind-the-scenes experience, there is an associated cost. The cost is £10.00 per post 16 student to attend one session, or £11.00 per post 16 student to attend two sessions on the same day. This fee includes their entry to the zoo. Free teacher supervisory places are provided at a ratio of 1 free teacher per 10 students. There is no minimum number of students but if you are bringing fewer than 10 students, there is a minimum charge of £100 to book a module session.

Sessions only available during Essex county council term times (not weekends or during school holidays).

Please note, we can not guarantee which animals will be seen on any specific tour.

Animal Behaviour

The session examines what behaviour is, with specifics to innate and learned behaviours. Potential ways behaviours are studied is then discussed in more detail. This is followed by looking at case studies to highlight and discuss stereotypical behaviour and what methods can be used to reduce them. Visitor effects on zoo animals are also examined through the use of case studies. On the tour, students will see ways the keepers can monitor behaviour as well as examples of how husbandry and enclosure design can allow animals to express a wider range of natural behaviours.

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Animal Contact

Students discuss the pros and cons of allowing contact with zoo animals. As a group, students learn when we allow contact, and what safety measures we take when contact is allowed. The tour will highlight public contact areas including safety measures, then for a more in-depth look we’ll go behind the scenes to see how contact is managed and controlled for our keepers.

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Animal Diet and Health

This session opens with a brief introduction to animal nutrition. The students then learn about different types of food presentation and how this relates to an animal’s diet and feeding regime. The tour involves taking different types of food presentations around to a variety of animals and highlights how different species are fed in different methods. The tour may include a look at our animal kitchen.

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Animal Restraint

The differences between physical and chemical restraint are explored. This leads into the reasons for restraint and which methods are best in various circumstances. The talk ends with a discussion of how training can be used to avoid restraint. The tour involves examining equipment in enclosures used to restrain animals (e.g. crush cages), as well as equipment used to facilitate training (e.g. training walls).

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Animal Training

Students will learn the theory and practical application of animal training and how it relates to animal behaviour. As a starting point, students learn the theory of classical and operant conditioning and the different types of operant conditioning. Building on that, students discover how training is a form of operant conditioning, and how clicker training can be used as positive reinforcement operant conditioning. The tour involves watching real training demonstrations such as injection training, displays training, and target training. 
Students may get the chance to attempt to target train animals.

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Enclosure Design

Students will learn all about creating appropriate enclosures for zoo animals. Using examples from the zoo, pupils learn how enclosure design must meet the needs of the keepers, animals, and visitors. The needs of the animals are then explored in more depth with relation to the Five Freedoms and how we ensure proper animal care and welfare. The tour includes the chance to see enclosure features not normally visible to the public such as filter systems, incubation rooms, off-show housing, and dens.

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Students learn how we keep our animals entertained. The problems of stereotypical behaviour (abnormal behaviour) and boredom in captive animals is examined. We’ll discuss the purpose of enrichment and the results of a variety of enrichment studies. On the tour, students will get the chance to see a variety of enrichment put in with different animals and note the results.

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Ethics and Collection Planning

Students will discover how TAGS, regional and institution collection plans as well as EEPs are used by zoos in the 21st century to aid population management. The role of the ethics committee is also discussed and the students are given real ethical scenarios to discuss and resolve. The tour includes a variety of off-show areas with modifications/considerations needed for breeding groups such as cubing dens, separation stalls, breeding groups and bachelor groups, etc

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