Sparsholt College and Chester Zoo are the only two UK organisations to be appointed by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) to develop a European Zookeeper Competency Framework to develop the professional status of zoo keepers and aquarists.

Sparsholt and Chester join five European partners for the €266k Erasmus+ funded project which starts in December 2015 and will run over three years.

Sparsholt was invited to become a major partner in the project due its international profile for developing zoo keeper training and it is expected the College will provide a significant presence and influence.

Andy Beer, Director of Zoo Management Studies at Sparsholt College said: “It is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of this European project. As recognised leaders in the field of Animal and Zoo Management education and training we can bring to the project our extensive knowledge and expertise.The outcome of this work ill be to establish a framework of what keepers are expected to do which will involve keeper exchanges and knowledge transfer.”

Since 2003 the College has run zoo keeper training courses with overseas centres in the United Arab Emirates, Riga and throughout the UK. The Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) is exclusive to Sparsholt College, the college is also launching a new Master’s degree this year in Applied Zoo Biology.

Andy Beer continues: “We will continue to ensure that this UK based programme will remain at the forefront of zoo keeper training within the national and international context.”

It is anticipated that the first full strategic planning and development meeting of partners will be in the Amsterdam HQ of EAZA.