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Unit information: Captive Wildlife Management in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Captive Wildlife Management
Unit code VETSM0039
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Ms. Barrows
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of this unit is to provide a thorough understanding of the principles of maintaining healthy populations of animals in captivity, including housing, nutrition, health, breeding and rearing. The groups to be covered include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Topics to be taught include enclosure design, environmental enrichment, zoo animal behaviour (including husbandry training), dietary requirements of different species, preventative and diagnostic health (including quarantine, vaccination, parasite and disease control), population management and welfare issues. The unit will also teach students about captive breeding programmes for endangered species (including studbook management and the avoidance of inbreeding) and the reintroduction of captive populations to the wild, using case studies and practical examples. Finally the unit will give students a critical understanding of international zoo networks and the role of zoos in scientific research and field conservation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing this unit students should:

  • Demonstrate the basic skills needed to manage wild animals in captivity, including how to design appropriate enclosures, how to provide environmental enrichment and how to plan and monitor animal feeding regimes (including for species whose diets are unknown).
  • Understand the importance of biosecurity and the use of preventative medicine interventions to maintain the health of captive wild animals
  • Understand the principles of coordinating and managing breeding programmes for endangered species.
  • Be aware of legislation (UK, EU and international) governing the keeping of wild animals in captivity.
  • Understand the risk assessment and safety issues involved in keeping wild animals in captivity.
  • Understand the role of zoos and international zoo networks in conservation and scientific research.
  • Understand the issues involved in the reintroduction of animals from captive populations into the wild.

Teaching Information

This unit will be taught using a combination of lectures, seminars, group workshops and practical sessions at Bristol Zoo. The practical sessions will provide the students with hands-on experience of animal restraint and handling, food preparation and diet sheets, breeding, enclosure maintenance and on designing environmental enrichment. The students will be provided with e-resources for this unit through the Blackboard online learning environment. These resources will include all the lecture notes and handouts, additional background reading, supporting material and links to subject-related websites.

Assessment Information

  • Short practical-based assessments during which students will be required to demonstrate high level competency in applied skills such as enclosure design, enrichment and behavioural observations (20%).
  • A written assignment, allowing students to demonstrate their intellectual skills and to research a selected topic in depth (20%).
  • Students will be asked to give presentations to their peers on topics such as collection planning, captive breeding and reintroduction of endangered species (20%).
  • A written examination consisting of essay-style questions covering the full breadth of material taught on this unit (40%).

Reading and References

The following are some examples of basic texts - others will be recommended by individual tutors during their teaching sessions:

  • Fowler, M. (2008) Restraint and handling of wild and domestic animals. (3rd Ed.) Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hosey, G., Melfi, V. & Pankhurst, S. (2013) Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management and Welfare. (2nd Ed.) Oxford University Press.
  • Kleiman, D.G. (2010) Wild Mammals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques for Zoo Management. University of Chicago Press.
  • Rees, P.A. (2011) An Introduction to Zoo Biology and Management. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Young, R.J. (2003) Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals. (UFAW Animal Welfare). Blackwell Science (UK).
  • Zimmermann, A., Hatchwell, M., Dickie, L. & West, C. (2007) Zoos in the 21st Century: Catalysts for Conservation? Cambridge University Press.