Zookeepers in the making

Regular visits to Dudley Zoo for Dudley College students are proving to be a monster success! Students on the college's Animal Care and Animal Management courses are benefiting from hands-on, practical work experience at the zoo as a result of the partnership between the two organisations.

The affiliation has added a further dimension to the popular Animal Care courses launched by the college just over two years ago. Regular placements give students the opportunity to work with the zoo's reptiles, small mammals, birds of prey and even the friendly Tarantulas.

Whilst at college students study topics ranging from animal biology to care of exotic animals, and conservation to animal feeding. Students then have the opportunity to put their studies into practice not only at the zoo, but also at Brockswood Animal Sanctuary.

Becky Iwahashi, Education Tutor at the zoo works with the students, helping then to become accustomed to handling, feeding and looking after the animals. Becky explained "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!"

Animal Care student Gary Hardyman, 16, from West Bromwich told us "I’ve always wanted to work with animals, but it wasn't an option at school. I really want to be a zookeeper and this course has given me the confidence to do that and made me really proud of myself.

"Working at the zoo brings the learning to life, and I've even managed to overcome my phobia of spiders after handling some of the really big spiders at the zoo! No day is the same - how good is that?

"I've finally found what I want to do,” explained 21-year-old Sam Miller from Dudley. Sam had pursued the route of teaching at the University of Wolverhampton before realising that her real vocation was working with animals. "I'm now making the most of the course and love the days we are at the zoo. I wasn't expecting to work with such a range of animals, and getting this amount of experience really helps to build your confidence."

The Animal Care courses are proving popular for students planning to come to the college this September, with the number of applications up on this time last year, and many students already on the level 2 courses planning to progress to the level 3 qualification.

To find out about Animal Care courses visit or call 01384 363 363.