Sparsholt College, Home of the National Zoo Academy, is delighted to welcome Shanti Persaud into her new role as West Midlands Regional Coordinator for the Diploma in Management of Zoos and Aquariums (DMZAA) at the new Regional Centre of West Midlands Safari Park.

Taking over from Dr David Beeston as he retires after his lifelong career working in the zoo sector, Shanti is looking forward to helping shape the careers of up and coming Zookeepers and Aquarists studying the DMZAA at the National Zoo Academy.

A late starter in the world of zoos and aquariums, Shanti chose to follow a lifelong passion of becoming a Zookeeper twelve years ago, after spending her career in IT, marketing and education, as well as setting up her own training business. She self-funded a foundation degree in Applied Animal Studies, and subsequently landed a role in the education department at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Once landing this role Shanti herself studied the DMZAA, and has since worked as a Zookeeper, Duty Manager and in Education at a number of licenced collections across the UK.

Excited to begin her new role, Shanti is hoping her varied roles in the world of zoos, alongside her own experience on the DMZAA course, will benefit future students. She says, “I’m looking forward to helping cohorts of students get through the tough times, achieving the qualification and feeling that they’re developing their skills and knowledge to do the best job in the world.”

“I know what it’s like to work full time and study for the DMZAA, and I’m excited to be able to use the mix of skills and knowledge that I have accrued over time in this role. And, of course, the occasional visit to another zoo!”

Penny Hounsome, Curriculum leader for Zoo Studies at Sparsholt College, says “Shanti has been a highly valued Year 1 Assessor on the DMZAA for many years, so the future students in our biggest region are in very safe hands!”

Sparsholt College has worked exclusively with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to run the DMZAA under the National Zoo Academy. It is the only official qualification for zookeepers, and is considered essential for anyone in the zoo keeping profession throughout the British Isles, Europe and the UAE, with students in other countries also frequently taking advantage of the programme.

Find out more about studying at the National Zoo Academy here.