Woburn Safari Park keeper Louise Moody has won the 2015 British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)) award for Best Overall Performance on the Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA), the official training course for zookeepers, exclusively offered nationally and internationally by Sparsholt College.

Louise is a keeper on the Presentation Section at the safari park where she works with a range of animals giving educated talks to assist the public’s understanding of small primates, birds and reptiles.

One of 75 students located throughout the country’s leading zoos and collections, Louise achieved 16 distinctions out a maximum of 17 which, accordingly to Course Director Andy Beer: “Is a stunning performance. To get distinctions in a variety of units with different assessors is no mean achievement so her win of Best Overall Performance is thoroughly deserved.”

Commenting on the value of the DMZAA which is the official CPD for zookeeper throughout the country, Louise said: “What I most appreciated about the course is that it is designed specifically for zookeepers, so every part is relevant to what you are doing on a day to day basis. When you’re working full time and studying of an evening, motivation can sometimes be hard to find. The DMZAA definitely made finding the motivation easier, because I felt that everything I was learning was going to help me become a more knowledgeable keeper. None of it felt pointless.

“It’s great too because it covers every aspect of being a zoo keeper and working in a zoo. Before this course, I didn’t know much about horticulture or zoo specific legislation; the gardens department and section heads/curators mainly deal with those things. But keepers still need to have an understanding of these areas. I think to become a well-rounded keeper, who is knowledgeable in all parts of their trade, these areas are just as important as the husbandry and welfare of the animals I look after. Thanks to this course, I have a much better theoretic understanding of all parts of my job.”

The DMZZA is a partnership between BIAZA and Sparsholt College. The two year programme is delivered by distance learning and is designed for people already working in a zoo or with an animal collection.

For further information on the DMZZA please contact Andy Beer at andy.beer@sparsholt.ac.uk