Zoo Keeper Competency Framework Erasmus Project

General information for the Zoo Keeper Competency Framework Erasmus Project

Zoo Keeper Competency Framework Erasmus Project
July 7, 2020 12:00 am

Project Title

Zoo Keeper Competency Framework

Project Key Action

This project related with these key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

Project Action Type

This project related with this action type : Strategic Partnerships for adult education

Project Call Year

This project’s Call Year is 2015

Project Topics

This project is related with these Project Topics: Intercultural/intergenerational education and (lifelong)learning; Labour market issues incl. career guidance / youth unemployment; Natural sciences

Project Summary

Zoos are conservation, research and education centres, plus highly popular tourist attractions, throughout Europe. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) alone represents
over 345 institutions, housing over 1.6 million animals and with an estimated 140 million visitors per year – making Zoos and Aquaria an important sector in the EU with 27% of EU citizens having visited an EAZA institution in 2012. By ensuring that its member zoos and aquariums achieve and maintain the highest standards of care for the species they keep, zoos and aquariums (hereafter referred to as zoos) empower European citizens to learn about animal behaviour and welfare; and contribute to global biodiversity conservation goals; whilst contributing to local economies through their role as highly popular tourist attractions.

Zookeeper training opportunities vary greatly across Europe. Whilst in some countries standardised, formal qualifications are available to zookeepers, for example, the Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) in the United Kingdom, resources and standardised training opportunities are lacking in many countries, especially those who joined the EU in 2004 or later. This has resulted in a clear skills gap in professional zookeeping in many EU member states. In these instances, zookeeper training is reliant on the application of in-house identification of core zookeeper skills and training, which lacks inter-institutional standardisation, a quantifiable measure of skills competency and implementation of best-practice. This often leads to limited capacity building within the role of the zookeeper, barriers to mobility between institutions, compromised best-practice animal management and stilted progression in the value of the zoo as a place of conservation, research, education and as an economic contributor.

The aim of this project was to develop and implement a sector-specific comprehensive and coherent Zoo Keeper Skills Competency Framework to meet the needs of the zoological tourist industry; incorporating skills from a range of relevant disciplines and available to all European zoos, bringing positive and long-lasting benefits through:
– Building capacity within the role of the zookeeper through implementation of vocational education and training (VET) via work-based learning (WBL);
– Promoting progression in animal management standards, including animal welfare best-practice and as centres for conservation, research and education;
– Facilitating labour mobility between zoos and have a positive effect on both employment opportunities and retention;
– Professionalising the role of the zookeeper to drive economic development, the value of zoos as modern tourist attractions and employers with high vocational opportunities.

There were 8 project partners, consisting of 2 partners known for their vocational education expertise in the field of animal management, 4 zoos representative of the entire spectrum across the EU, and 2 zoo membership associations, including EAZA as the coordinating partner. Participation from the membership associations included some participation from employees of members as well as staff directly employed by the association.

The major objectives of the project were to develop and publish a competency framework, the first version of which was completed by August 2017, and to develop online training modules based on framework competences. 5 modules were developed and published by August 2018, as well as an assessment toolkit to support assessment of practical skills. All materials are available at the project website zookeepers.eu. The development of these intellectual outputs was supported by 8 transnational meetings between the project partners; 2 short term training events (STTEs), 1 aimed at zookeepers and 1 at managers; 1 multiplier event targeting external stakeholders; and additional dissemination efforts through participating in sector-specific conference and meetings.

The two intellectual outputs were delivered successfully and on time, and they are being implemented in various ways by the project partners and 2 external education providers so far, and there has been interest from several other parties in future implementation. At this stage, only 14 months after the completion of the framework, the partners believe that the full extent of implementation has not been achieved so there will continue to be further benefits to the sector, increasing transparency and mobility as more institutions implement the results of the project. By making it easier for institutions to provide appropriate training, this should achieve the project’s ultimate goals of improving professional recognition and employment opportunities for zookeepers, and further improving standards of animal care in EU zoos. EAZA is committed to maintaining the framework and updating it in the future.

EU Grant (Eur)

Funding of the project from EU: 253793 Eur

Project Coordinator

Europese Vereniging van Dierentuinen en Aquaria (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) & Country: NL

Project Partners

  • North of England Zoological Society
  • Lietuvos zoologijos sodas
  • Federatia Gradinilor Zoologice si Acvariilor din Romania
  • Zoo Wroclaw sp. z o.o.
  • Sparsholt College Hampshire
  • Ustanova Zooloski vrt grada Zagreb