Sedgley student Kelly Fillingham is among those making a clean sweep at Dudley Zoo (DZG), thanks to a new partnership with Dudley College which is proving a hands-on success for Animal Care and Management students.
Throughout a six month period, 68 students including Kelly, spent four-week placements working alongside Dudley Zoo keepers and Education staff in a project believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Students’ mornings are spent cleaning enclosures, preparing food and learning what it takes to be a zookeeper. Afternoons are spent in theory sessions, with Presenter Becky Iwahashi in the Discovery Centre education block, covering enclosure design, nutrition and diet, and enrichment.
Animal Care training and handling mammals, reptiles and invertebrates is also covered and students rotate sections, working on Farm, Birds, Ungulates, Primates and Education.
Becky says: “Some students also had the chance to participate in our daily talks programme, giving them confidence in their public speaking skills and another high point was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity helping Bird staff hand rear highly endangered baby Humboldt penguins!”
DZG CEO Peter Suddock, adds: “The DZG / Dudley College placement scheme is the only programme in the country between a zoo and neighbouring college running Animal Care and Management courses and has proved a big success in its first year.
“The placements offer an insight into the management of a leading modern animal collection and have been extremely rewarding for the majority of students – many now wish to become zookeepers themselves one day – and the physical experience has offered an accurate view of zookeeping.
“Students are also able to take advantage of the chance to ask keepers about the collection, and receive invaluable advice on how to achieve their dream job of working with animals.”
Animal Care student Gary Hardyman, 16, of West Bromwich, says: “Working at DZG brings learning to life, and I’ve even managed to overcome my phobia of spiders after handling some of the zoo’s really big ones! No day is the same – how good is that?”
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Miller, of Dudley, adds: “I love the days at the zoo and have finally found what I want to do. I wasn’t expecting to work with such a range of animals, and getting this amount of experience really helps to build your confidence.”
Twenty four students took part in the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care with 44 students on the BTEC Level 3 extended diploma in Animal Management.
Check up on the latest updates at DZG by visiting www.dudleyzoo.org.uk