This distance-learning programme can turn your dream of working in the zoo industry into reality. Develop your knowledge and understanding of how to maintain the safety and welfare of animals, and yourself, in a captive wild animal environment. This includes feeding, safety and hygiene practices, natural behaviours, enrichment and life histories. Learn to recognise and respond to health issues and emergencies involving captive wild animals. You’ll learn about what role captive wild animal facilities play in society, both in today’s world and historically, and you’ll explore the impact of zoos on conservation 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.
- As a distance learning programme, you have the benefit of 280 hours at an approved zoological park where you can apply what you’ve learnt about husbandry to a wide variety of exotic species.
- Take part in three compulsory block courses, each six days at our Mt. Albert campus, 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.
- Block courses start early on the first day, so if you’re travelling from outside Auckland, we advise that you arrive a day early to account for any travel delays.
- Each block course ends at 5.45pm at the latest on the last day.
- Tea and coffee are provided throughout the course however food can be purchased from various outlets on campus. Please be advised that some block courses take place outside regular semester therefore some food options may be limited.
- Unfortunately, we are unable to provide accommodation for those travelling from outside of Auckland, however there is plenty of accommodation available within the West Auckland area.
- This programme has specific work experience requirements. You must obtain a total of 280 hours structured work experience at an approved facility in the year of study, split between three different animal groups.
- At least 40 hours must be with invertebrates, fish, amphibians, or reptiles.
- At least 40 hours must be with birds.
- At least 80 hours must be with mammals, with a minimum of 16 hours with at least one highly dangerous animal.
- You must organise and confirm your own work placement with an approved New Zealand zoo facility in addition to meeting the programme admission requirements before you can enrol in this programme (with the exception of Auckland Zoo). We require written consent from the facility/facilities where you will undertake your work experience.
- Unlike other placement, Auckland Zoo placements are arranged in conjuction with Unitec during your application process. If you plan on applying for a placement at Auckland Zoo, please do no not contact them directly.
- Each zoo has different age requirements and final application dates so it is a good idea to contact zoos as soon as possible to express your interest. For example, Auckland Zoo's minimum age is 18.
- For more information, download the programme's additional information.
Approved zoo facilities
|Zoo/Region||Contact Name||Contact Details|
|Auckland Zoo, Auckland||Do not contact direct||Do not contact direct|
|Wellington Zoo, Wellington||Harmony Wallace|| +64 4 381 6755|
|Orana Park, Christchurch||Alyssa Salton||+64 3 359 7109 ext. 810|
|*Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Christchurch||Kirsty Willis||+64 3 359 6226|
|Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton||Morele Rand||+64 7 838 6961|
|*National Aquarium, Napier||Rob Yarroll||+64 6 834 1404|
|*Brooklands Zoo, New Plymouth||Eve Cozzi||+64 6 759 6060|
|*Natureland, Nelson||Meg Rutledge||+64 3 548 6166|
|*Butterfly Creek, Auckland||Stacey McCarthy||+64 9 275 8880 ext. 218|
* These facilities cannot provide the full scope of animal experience required, therefore applicants must contact other approved facilities to gain experience in areas that cannot be accommodated by these smaller facilities.
Where to next?
If you’re interested in continuing your studies, this programme will give you the academic admission requirements for higher-level animal programmes at Unitec, including the Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Management and Welfare).
For this programme, you will need the following:
1. 36 credits at NCEA Level 2 including 12 credits in English
2. 12 credits at NCEA Level 1 in a relevant science subject
3. Provide evidence you have been accepted by one or more approved zoo facilities in New Zealand to complete 280 hours work experience with them. Work experience must be completed within your year of study and must include minimum hours on specific animal groups (see application information)
4. If English is not your first language, you will need one or more of the following:
- Have achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University entrance
- Be able to provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency
- Have achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years
Don’t have NCEA? We also accept:
- The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) or an equivalent qualification; or
- Provide sufficient evidence to be eligible for special or discretionary admission.
For more information download the programme regulations:
Courses and timetables
For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.
|The Zoo Industry (Sem A) (NSCI4734-SA)||15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS)||This course examines the roles of zoo keepers and similar positions, and how the roles pertain to working within the zoo industry and associated facilities in New Zealand and globally|
|The Zoo Industry (Sem B) (NSCI4734-SB)||15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS)||This course examines the roles of zoo keepers and similar positions, and how the roles pertain to working within the zoo industry and associated facilities in New Zealand and globally|
|The Practice of Zookeeping (Sem A) (NSCI4740-SA)||22.5 credits (0.188 EFTS)||This course enables the student to develop best practice skills for the care of captive wild animals in a zoo context.|
|The Practice of Zookeeping (Sem B) (NSCI4740-SB)||22.5 credits (0.188 EFTS)||This course enables the student to develop best practice skills for the care of captive wild animals in a zoo context.|
|Vertebrate Anatomy and Physiology (Sem A) (NSCI5720-SA)||7.5 credits (0.063 EFTS)||To enable students to understand the concepts of anatomy and physiology as they relate to the maintenance of homeostasis and animal health|
|Vertebrate Anatomy and Physiology (Sem B) (NSCI5720-SB)||7.5 credits (0.063 EFTS)||To enable students to understand the concepts of anatomy and physiology as they relate to the maintenance of homeostasis and animal health|
|Principles of Captive Wild Animal Husbandry (Sem A) (NSCI5742-SA)||15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS)||This course enables the student to understand the theoretical principles of best practice animal husbandry in a zoo or similar captive wild animal facility.|
|Principles of Captive Wild Animal Husbandry (Sem B) (NSCI5742-SB)||15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS)||This course enables the student to understand the theoretical principles of best practice animal husbandry in a zoo or similar captive wild animal facility.|