Twycross keeper achieves highest diploma marks in the country

One of our zoo keepers has received a special award for achieving the highest marks in the country for her Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA). Sophie Cooper came top of her class of 69 fellow students completing the course that is run by Sparsholt College in Hampshire.

The DMZAA is a course that is run in partnership between the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and Sparsholt College, which is renowned as one of the UK’s leading land-based colleges. The diploma is a 2-year distance learning programme which is designed for people already working in the zoo community. There are 18 assignments to be completed across the two years, with each taking an average of 30 hours to complete, meaning that Sophie has worked 540 hours on these. Modules include topics such as animal enclosure design, nutrition, conservation breeding, animal transportation and health strategies in zoos and aquariums.

Sophie joined Twycross Zoo in 2010 and is one of our primate keepers, looking after monkeys, lemurs and gibbons, and her particular favourite, the Langur monkeys. These monkeys have evolved to be leaf-eaters and have a specifically adapted biology to cope with a diet of leaves. This means that catering for their special dietary requirements is incredibly important. Twycross Zoo is home to 3 different species of langur including Francois langurs which are classified as endangered and are part of an important European breeding programme.

Sophie said, “It is a real privilege to work at Twycross Zoo with endangered species such as the Francois langur who have such specialist needs. I’m thrilled to have achieved a distinction in my diploma which has given me a comprehensive insight into the management of a vast array of species and a better understanding of the legislation that surrounds the running of a zoo to ensure the highest levels of animal husbandry and welfare are delivered.”

Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences here at Twycross said, “Twycross Zoo is thoroughly committed to developing its staff and their careers, and every year we offer our eligible keepers the opportunity of studying for the diploma. We are incredibly proud of Sophie’s achievements this year. She is an excellent keeper and we look forward to seeing her career flourish with us.”

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