Zoo Keeper and Aquarist Apprentice

Animal - Zoology
Department (and Section)
Zoos and Engagement - Z&E London - Animal Operations LZ - Penguins & Flying Birds
Closing Date
Position Type
Full-Time / Permanent
Advertised Salary
ZSL Pay Scales - Apprentice Pay
London Weighting, Weekend Enhancement


Job Title: Zoo Keeper and Aquarist Apprentice

Department: Animal Department

Directorate: Zoos and Engagement

Responsible to: Team Leader


Location: London Zoo

Contract Type: 2 year Fixed Term Contract

Hours: 37.5 Hours per week

Salary: £19,588


About Us:

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), a charity founded in 1826, is a world-renowned centre of excellence for conservation science and applied conservation. ZSL’s mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. This is realised by carrying out field conservation and research in over 50 countries across the globe and through education and awareness-raising at our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, inspiring people to take conservation action.

Role Profile

ZSL is looking for a Apprentice Keeper in our Penguins & Flying Birds department. The successful candidate will be expected to ensure high standards of animal welfare and animal husbandry are carried out daily. To keep daily checks and records of animals health and behaviours and report to senior members of the team. Good communication skills and experience of dealing with the public is essential, together with the ability to work effectively within a team.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Main Duties: 

  • Assisting with the cleaning of designated areas.
  • All aspects of animal husbandry on a daily basis.
  • Preparation of approved diets.
  • The carrying out of correct feeding procedures.
  • Ensuring that safety and emergency procedures are followed at all times.
  • Maintaining courteous and helpful relations with visitors.
  • Reporting defects and repairs required to the Team Leader or more senior staff.
  • Assisting in various projects related to animal management as directed by senior animal management staff.
  • The training of a large variety of Birds and Mammals for husbandry and display purposes.
  • The presentation and delivery of high-quality mixed taxa displays.

Building Relationships

  • Communication is needed frequently with all keeping staff to relay concerns and information required for the daily records.
  • Some media work may be required which will involve speaking confidently and comprehensively.


Mental Demands

  • Problems are mainly solved in conjunction with other Keepers on section with some problems requiring action immediately without consultation with others.
  • Problem solving and forward thinking are essential at peak times in the walkthroughs. The post holder will have the ability to make quick decisions regarding visitor and animal safety, whilst following the Health and Safety guidelines
  • The Apprenticeship is assessed using an end point assessment (EPA) method, which involves a multiple-choice test, observations and a professional discussion based on portfolio. The keeper must pass all these assessments to gain their apprenticeship pass and be promoted to a newly qualified keeper.
  • Keepers often obtain personal connections with zoo animals and may go through emotional upset with regards to any animal moves, ill health or site incidents.


  • This post requires weekend and bank holiday working and flexibility with rotas at short notice. This may include a sudden change of start or finishing time.
  • Ability to travel and attend training at range of offsite locations.
  • This role may, on occasion, require the post holder to work on another animal section or from the other zoo (London or Whipsnade) to which the post holder is based.

Person Specification

 Person Specification:

  • Have great customer service and communication skills as there will be a need to engage and interact with visitors.
  • Practical experience of delivering public demonstrations is preferable.
  • A good understanding of animal behaviour and ethical training methods.
  • Be able to demonstrate initiative and a pro-active approach to completing tasks beneficial to the section/department.

Qualifications & Experience

  • Practical experience of working with section specific animals.
  • Level 2 English and Maths or a commitment to attain them.


  • Broad taxonomic knowledge on a range of species managed within zoological collections.
  • Willingness to work on and learn about evolving husbandry management within zoological collections to include positive re-enforcement training for behavioural management and varied methods of enrichment for a range of species.
  • Ability to learn and an appreciation for life support systems, temperature ranges and UK requirements for specific species.
  • Ability to learn and an appreciation for techniques used to handle specific animals should catch ups or veterinary procedures require this.
  • An understanding or a willingness to learn about the conservation, research and educational role of ex situ populations.

Skills & Abilities

  • Ability to demonstrate initiative and a pro-active approach to completing tasks beneficial to the section/department without always waiting to be asked.
  • Ability to clearly follow instructions on tasks requested to be carried out by the section manager.
  • Working with animals requires detailed levels of concentration on both noting animal behaviour and changes to behaviour as well security (e.g. remembering to lock doors and close slides). The ability to tell others of your need to concentrate at specific times if disrupted.
  • An ability to deliver keeper talks and presentations.

Interpersonal Skills

  • An ability to work as part of a team as well as an individual to complete section tasks.
  • Effective communication across all levels of the society. An ability to engage with colleagues across all departments as well as visitors in a polite and helpful manner.
  • Capable of supporting volunteers as requested.
  • A presentable appearance through following uniform and clothing policy.


Other Requirements

  • Dependant on section either working indoors in artificially high &/or humid conditions or extensive outside working with direct exposure to the weather.


What do we offer?

You will have access to a blended program of Wellbeing initiatives, including confidential access to our 24/7 Employee Assistance Program as well as regular webinars and activities around mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing. The opportunity to be part of an organisation that is committed to improving diversity and inclusion.

Other benefits include 25 days holiday, life assurance, stakeholder pension (employer contribution is matched up to 12%), complimentary zoo tickets with a 30% discount in shops and online, subsidised canteen, enhanced paternity and maternity leave, season ticket loan, cycle to work scheme, subsidised gym membership and access to a wide range of learning and development opportunities (add LinkedIn Learning for managers).


Ultimately, you’ll know that you’ll help us to inspire, inform and empower people to stop wildlife going extinct. 


To Apply

To Apply:


Please follow the instructions below after clicking the "Apply" button. If you have any questions please send them to hr@zsl.org 


If you would like a job description for this role and/or the Equality of Opportunity Monitoring Form please e-mail the same address.


Closing date for applications: Midnight (23:59) Sunday 29th January 2023



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