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Unit information: Captive Wildlife Management in 2018/19

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


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 details

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 husbandry, including food preparation and enclosure maintenance, environmental enrichment, water testing and behavioural observations. 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 Details

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

  • A written task describing housing and husbandry for a zoo animal species (60%).
  • A short presentation reviewing and appraising a relevant topic such as a wildlife reintroduction programme (40%).

Reading and References

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