From education to employment

DCG works with Chester Zoo to launch new animal apprenticeships scheme

  • Zoo keen to widen access to conservation jobs to everyone
  • New scheme to open up zookeeping as a career path
  • Anyone from school leavers to those seeking a change in career encouraged to apply
  • Ten zookeeper/aquarist, two horticulturalist and two animal and plant logistics roles on offer   

Chester Zoo’s new animal apprenticeship scheme – the first to be offered by the zoo – will aim to inspire people into zookeeping as a career

Chester Zoo is launching a new apprenticeships scheme to inspire more people to take up a career in conservation.

The UK’s most visited wildlife charity is inviting anyone from school leavers to those seeking a career change to apply for one of 14 paid apprenticeships.

A degree or formal qualification is not required as zoo recruitment chiefs look to widen access to full time employment in zookeeping and other animal and plant focussed roles to everyone.

Among the two-year paid apprenticeships up for grabs are 10 zookeeper and aquarist roles, two horticulturalists and two positions in animal and plant logistics.

The zoo, which currently employs 850, has partnered with Derby College Group (DCG) who will provide full accreditation for the scheme, including all formal training elements and assessment.

Jen McDermott, Head of People & Culture at Chester Zoo, said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity for 14 apprentices to join our talented animal and plant teams and become part of our charitable effort to prevent extinction. Each and every one of our apprentices will be trained and mentored by specialist and experienced staff from across the zoo, ensuring they’re ready and equipped with the skills needed to work in a modern conservation zoo. They’ll also work alongside our new Conservation Training Academy, which will enable and inspire 5,000 conservationists to deliver positive change for wildlife over the next 10 years.

“We’re always looking at how our charity can continue to improve in terms of equality, diversity and inclusivity and our new apprenticeship scheme is a fantastic way to open up career opportunities to anyone who is passionate about conservation.”

Stacey Higgs, Curriculum Manager at Derby College Group, added:

“We have widespread experience of further education, higher education and apprenticeship routes into animal management and are delighted to be working with Chester Zoo to help recruit and to train the apprentices under this innovative programme.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for young people and adults alike to earn while they learn and to get the first foot on the ladder in this exciting and growing sector with a first class wildlife charity.”

Anyone interested in a Chester Zoo apprenticeship can find out more and apply from today via Apprentice Keeper – Find an apprenticeship (

Apprentice Horticulturist – Find an apprenticeship (

Logistical Services Apprentice – Find an apprenticeship (

The closing date for applications is midnight on Sunday 15 May.


Chester Zoo

  • Chester Zoo ( is a registered conservation and education charity
  • It’s home to more than 20,000 animals made up from nearly 600 different species, many of which are endangered in the wild
  • The zoo also supports field projects in 20 countries around the world, as well as closer to home in the UK, preventing the extinction of highly threatened species
  • The zoo has a vital role in inspiring and educating people about the natural world and the impact humans have on it – creating and nurturing the conservationist in us all.

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