Skip to main content

Unit information: Captive Wildlife Management in 2021/22

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 Dr. Tim Bray
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 covered 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 consider 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 aims to 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 be able to:

  • Demonstrate the basic skills needed to manage wild animals in captivity, to include designing appropriate enclosures, providing environmental enrichment and planning and monitoring animal feeding regimes (including for species whose diets are unknown).
  • Explain in detail the importance of biosecurity and the use of preventative medicine interventions to maintain the health of captive wild animals
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the principles of coordinating and managing breeding programmes for endangered species.
  • Demonstrate a clear and in-depth understanding of the legislation (UK, EU and international) governing the keeping of wild animals in captivity.
  • Critically discuss the risk assessment and safety issues involved in keeping wild animals in captivity.
  • Explain the role of zoos and international zoo networks in conservation and scientific research.
  • Critically evaluate the issues involved in the reintroduction of animals from captive populations into the wild.

Teaching Information

This unit will be delivered using a combination of online activities, seminars, group workshops and sessions run by Bristol Zoo. There will be a strong focus on providing a diversity of online delivery from a wide range of specialist animal keepers, veterinarians, and research staff. The students will be provided with e-resources for this unit through the Blackboard online learning environment. These resources will include additional background reading, supporting material and links to subject-related websites.

Assessment Information

The student's performance on this unit will be assessed using:

  • A short design report-based assessment allowing students to demonstrate application of the captive wild animal skills they have learnt such as enclosure design (100%). A draft structure will be reviewed and formative feedback provided prior to submission.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. VETSM0039).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.