Young people from across Lancashire with a passion for working with animals took one step closer to their dream careers, after graduating from Blackpool Zoo’s Keeper Academy.
Alison Brough, 15, who is a pupil at St Aidan’s Technology College in Preesall and Rhianne Murray, 16, who attends Hodgson High School in Poulton-le-Fylde, signed up to the 10 week Saturday course along with eight other 15 – 17 year olds after hearing about it through their schools.
The Blackpool Zoo Keeper Academy is a unique educational programme that covers basic theory and includes practical, hands on tasks and experience with some of the zoo’s favourite residents.
From reptiles to birds, small mammals to large primates and big cats to elephants, almost every aspect of the animal kingdom is covered.
Throughout the course students completed an evidence portfolio with the help of the education team at the zoo, which can be used to enhance applications to college and university courses or jobs.
Alison, whose next step is to complete A-levels, said: “When I heard about the course at school I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to get some real life experience; and I know it will great on my CV when I apply to University after I finish college.
“I really enjoyed the variety the course offered and we worked with different animals every week – although my favourite were definitely the giraffes.
“I know much more about animals than I did before and I made quite a few new friends on the way.”
Rhianne, who is due to start a National Diploma in Animal Management at Myerscough College next year, added: “I loved going ‘backstage’ where only the keepers get to go and seeing all the animals close up.
“Theory classes were also great, learning about where the animals are found naturally and how they behave in the wild.
“It was also very interesting to hear about the history of the zoo, and the great work they are doing to contribute to conservation around the world.
“When I started the Blackpool Zoo Keeper Academy I wanted to be a police dog handler – but now I would be more than happy to be a zoo keeper!”
Sarah Thomas, Education Manager at Blackpool Zoo, said: “This course was a huge success and all the students immersed themselves in every part of the course.
“From cleaning out the elephant enclosure to making fruit kebabs for lemurs and completing a behaviour study on the orang-utans, they gave 100 per cent and I am sure they will all excel in their chosen careers.
“The Zoo Keeper Academy was launched after we had repeated requests from students to do work experience at the zoo as they wanted to work with animals when they finished college or university.
“With more courses planned for this year we are keen to hear from 15-17 year olds who wish to pursue any kind of career with animals.”
Courses will run in April and September and there will be three summer schools during the holidays when the 10 days will be covered across a two-week period.
Cost for the 10 week course is £250 per person and the two week summer course is £300 per person. Places are limited to 10 students per course.
For an application form for any of the upcoming Blackpool Zoo Keeper Academy courses please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Sarah Thomas, Education Manager on 01253 830805.