Programme overview

This programme is no longer offered. If you have applied for this programme we will contact you about moving to the new and improved New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals).

This programme can turn your dream of working in the zoo industry into reality. Develop your knowledge and understanding of feeding, safety and hygiene practices, natural behaviours, enrichment and life histories. Learn to recognise and respond to health issues and emergency situations involving captive wild animals. Investigate the role of captive wild animal facilities in society, historically and the present day, and explore the impact of zoos on conservation, both locally and globally.


  • The only qualification in New Zealand that can train you to become a zookeeper.
  • Recognised by all the main zoos in New Zealand as the entry-level qualification to work in this industry.
  • 280 hours of work experience at an approved zoological park where you can apply what you've learnt to the practical husbandry of a wide variety of exotic species.
  • Take part in three block courses (each either 5 or six days) in Auckland, learning crucial skills and gaining knowledge in face-to-face lectures, meeting students from other zoos around New Zealand and attending field trips at Auckland Zoo.
  • Lecturers who have many years' experience in the zoo industry and associated disciplines, and continue to work closely with these industries.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General Admission

All applicants must be at least 16 years of age on the date of the programme’s commencement for the semester in which they wish to enrol (or provide a completed Early Release Exemption form).

For Level 4 Certificate programmes applicants must have a minimum of 4 years secondary education, and a minimum of 12 NCEA credits at Level 1 in each of at least two subjects, OR a pass in two subjects in New Zealand School Certificate, OR Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies: Whitinga (Level 2) in a relevant pathway, OR equivalent.

Special Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the Certificate is to commence; and
  2. provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a successful outcome in the qualification.

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the Certificate is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language requirements

Applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 12 credits at NCEA Level 1 in English.

English language entry requirements for international students for whom English is not their first language:

Applicants must have at least ONE of the following:

a) Gained NCEA level 3 and met New Zealand university entrance requirements;

b) Clear evidence that they satisfy one of the following criteria for existing English proficiency:

  1. Previous primary and secondary study in English as evidenced by completion of one of the following at schools with English as the language of instruction in countries with a student visa approval rate of at least 80 per cent:
    • Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13), or
    • Completion of at least five years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13)
  2. Previous tertiary study in English: clear evidence of completion of a tertiary qualification of at least three years’ duration with English as the language of instruction in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
  3. Achievement of the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)

c) Achieved, within the preceding two years, at least one of the English proficiency outcomes listed below:

  1. NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL) (General / Workplace / Academic) (Level 3)
  2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5. The IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form.
  3. An overall TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) score of 530 (essay 4.5 TWE) OR an overall TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) Score of 46 (writing 20)
  4. University of Cambridge English Examinations: FCE or FCE for schools with a score of 162.No less than 154 in each skill
  5. Pearson Test of English PToE (Academic) with a score of 42.

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

To be admitted to this programme, all applicants must meet the following requirements in addition to the requirements set out in the Certificate Generic Regulations:

  1. Have a minimum of 12 credits at NCEA Level 1 Biology and/or Chemistry or other relevant science subjects; or
  2. Have completed the Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3): Whitinga or equivalent.

Candidates for the Certificate of Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals) must secure a work experience placement at a zoological park or parks (approved by Unitec) in order to fulfil the requirements of the course NSCI4730 Captive Wild Animal Practicum.

    English language admission requirements

    All domestic applicants who do not meet the English Language Requirements as set out in the Generic Certificate Regulations are required to sit an English assessment and attend an interview. The assessments and interview will be used to determine whether the applicant has a level of competency in English Language that is equivalent to the generic requirements. If an ‘equivalent ‘level of competency is obtained the student will be considered to meet the English Language requirements for admission on the programme.

    Courses and timetables

    This programme is no longer offered and is replaced by the new and improved New Zealand Certificate in Animal Management (Captive Wild Animals).