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Keepers at Banham Zoo share National Award for best students

Tuesday 12th December 2017

Two zoo keepers from Banham Zoo have shared 1st place on a national training course that seeks to train the next generation of zoo keepers.

Their journey started over two years ago when Lucas Atkinson, 28, and Sarah Bonsall, 30, were enrolled on the DMZAA (Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals at Sparsholt College, Hampshire by the zoo as part of their keeper training programme.

The DMZAA was developed between the college and BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria) as a correspondence course and involves a considerable amount of work in the keepers own personal time. The qualification is internationally recognised and considered by many as the most appropriate qualification for a career as a qualified zoo keeper and is only open to people actually working in zoos.

Two years of hard work followed with Sarah and Lucas having to complete special studies, exams and numerous modules covering all aspects of modern zoo practice, from animal diets to zoo legislation, general husbandry and environmental enrichment.

Finally, earlier this year, the college confirmed that both had passed. Each year the college presents an award for the student with best overall grades but what neither Lucas, Sarah or the zoo knew at that time was that this year, for only the 2nd time in its history, the award was to be shared and both winners were from Banham Zoo.

On Tuesday 14th November, Martin Simmons, Vice Principal from Sparsholt College, along with other representatives from the college and BIAZA came to Banham to join senior management from the zoo in giving Sarah and Lucas their certificates and awards.

Gary Batters, the Director of Conservation and Education at Banham Zoo said ‘We are immensely proud of Lucas and Sarah as we are of all our keepers that have completed this course over past years. They will have put in an enormous amount of hard work in during the duration of the course and receiving this award highlights the high standards that are achieved by all the staff at both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!

Following completion of the course Lucas and Sarah were both promoted to Level 3 Qualified Keeper and will use the knowledge gained from the course and the course of their work to further their careers within the zoo industry.

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