A day in the life of… an Animal Management College Student

May 2020

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Are you passionate about animals? Students studying one of our Animal Management college courses, learn how to work with a wide range of creatures.

Our campus is home to around 200 species and our specialist Titchmarsh Animal Centre includes alpacas, marmosets, sugar gliders and tortoises, lizards such as Chinese water dragons, aviary birds, fresh and salt water fish (to name just a few!).

As a student, you'll begin the morning with a quick roll call, to make sure all animals are present in their enclosures. You'll then check that they all appear healthy, and let them into outdoor pens if necessary. 

To help you get to know plenty of species, you'll be allocated a 'section' of our unit and be moved to different areas through the year. At the end of the day all the animals must be put safely away for the night. You can expect to finish by 5pm.

No two days are completely the same. You may be feeding coatis, cleaning out alpacas, carrying out general tidying up or health checking and grooming animals where necessary. We'll teach you species-specific husbandry such as water testing for fish, misting water to maintain humidity for some reptiles or checking environmental conditions such as temperature in housing for sensitive animals.

A taught practical skills session is built into the day. Our friendly staff will show you how to complete an important task and will explain its importance. You'll then practice your new knowledge under supervision. Skills will be assessed during and at the end of the course. 

As learner, you'll be taught about foot trimming for goats and sheep, grooming for ponies and donkeys, wing clipping for the outdoor birds, administering of routine medicines. If the vet or farrier visit, we'll offer you the chance to observe their work as part of your learning.

Your lecturers will cover important subjects, such as enclosure design and how to use enrichment to prevent animals becoming bored. We link theory to practice constantly, and our hands-on sessions are complemented by the academic knowledge that helps you to understand the skills we teach.

By the end of the course you'll know how to look after properly, feed, maintain an environment for and health check all of the animals on our unit. Level three students will also learn how to complete some more complex tasks.

Kersty Ellis, Head of Department for FE Human, Animal and Bioveterinary Sciences says: "We aim to make sure our students are ready to take their first steps into a work place with animals, at the right level for their qualification. For example, if you hope to work in zoos, the skills needed to handle and care for an alpaca will transfer to looking after camels or antelopes.

"For other professions of interest, being confident to handle a wide range of creatures is important. Vet nurses, for example, may be asked to handle rabbits, snakes, birds and any other animal people keep as pets, so learning these skills now can help with employability later. If you hope to work in a pet shop it's important to understand the type of care all the animals need so you can advise people properly. Our Level 3 course also gives a solid grounding for students who would to study Animal Management or Science or other animal disciplines at university level."

To learn more, visit writtle.ac.uk/animal