Course Description

Designed as a comprehensive course to ensure you have the skills and knowledge needed to take your zoo keeping career to the next level, the Certificate provides you with advanced skills in interacting, monitoring and observing captive animals. You will also learn how to manage enclosures and exhibits, develop animal diets, review behavioural management strategies, and how to prepare and present information to the public.

Studying the course online through the virtual campus, Open Space, you are able to learn at your own pace and in your own time. Open Space also gives you the ability to meet and connect with other students, as well as your trainers and assessors.

This specialist course also contains Structured Workplace Learning, to give you real hands-on experience under the guidance of someone who is working in the industry. You’ll make contacts, learn tips, tricks and skills and work with real captive animals in a practical setting.

If you want to take the next career step, get the competitive employment edge with this qualification and turn your passion into a rewarding and lifelong career.

This course is offered by Open Colleges on behalf of TAFE NSW North Region.

This course involves work placement that currently needs to be undertaken in Australia. More information available in our FAQs

Potential career outcomes

  • Senior Zoo Keeper
  • Wildlife Care Operator/ Manager
Course number E1104
Qualification name ACM40210 Certificate IV in Captive Animals
Course duration Maximum 24 months
Delivery Method Online with Work Placement
Recognition Nationally Recognised Nationally Recognised Training
Assessments Case studies, Multiple choice questions, Projects, Short-answer questions, Workplace assessments, Written reports
Awarded by
  • TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010)


To study this course, you will need to be working in the industry, either as a volunteer or in a paid position. You will also need to have access to senior keeper and supervisor duties during the Structured Work Placement component of this Certificate. For more information about your suitability for this course, contact Open Colleges’ friendly team of Enrolment Consultants for a chat.

Minimum age

You will need to be at least 18 years old.


This course involves reading and undertaking a range of written assessments, as well as engaging in online forums and discussions. Furthermore, the delivery mode relies on the extensive use of written communication. As such, entry to the course requires the successful completion of English to Year 10 level.

If you haven't successfully completed English at Year 10 level, you can demonstrate equivalency through one of the following:

  • Successful completion of a Nationally Recognised Training qualification at Certificate II level or higher; or
  • 2 years relevant industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication

Open Colleges recognises that not all people are able to read, write and perform calculations to the same standard. See the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Considerations section for more information on tools, resources and support services provided to by Open Colleges.


You will need access to a computer and the internet and have basic computing skills. Minimum specifications for your computer are:

All users:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 or equivalent
  • Broadband internet connection
  • 2GB of RAM
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Adobe Reader XI or equivalent
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher.
  • Access to printer and associated software
  • Access to scanner and associated software
  • Digital imaging software
  • File compression software.

Windows users:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 or higher (Windows 8 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz recommended)

Mac OS users:

  • Mac OSX v10.5 or higher (Mac OSX v10.6 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz recommended)


To successfully complete this course, you will require basic computing skills. This includes:

  • Creating, saving and editing Microsoft Office documents
  • Accessing and searching the internet
  • Downloading and saving documents from websites
  • Uploading documents through websites
  • Participating in online discussions
  • Compressing image files
  • Recording, compressing and uploading videos.

Video assessments

As part of the assessment for some units, you will be required to produce a video of yourself performing certain tasks. Some of these videos may involve another person.

Language, Literacy and Numeracy

Our free online assessment tool can help give you an idea of the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed to study a VET course. This tool can also help you determine your learning level and help you plan your future studies. You can access the Language, Literacy and Numeracy tool here.

Open Colleges may make changes to the course from time to time to reflect changes introduced to the relevant Training Package or other regulatory requirements. Please download the course guide for current information about the course and its status.

Note: Courses offered by Open Colleges on behalf of TAFE NSW North Region may include Units of Competency that are graded by TAFE NSW.

Module 1

  • Work effectively within a captive animal facility 
  • Comply with captive animal interaction policies and procedures
  • Identify and handle animals humanely
  • Communicate effectively

Module 2

  • Prepare housing appropriate to a particular species
  • Implement animal housing maintenance routines
  • Maintain enclosure hygiene and appearance 

Module 3

  • Plan the capture and restraint of animals
  • Capture and restrain animals
  • Assist with animal transportation requirements

Module 4

  • Follow animal  health management practices
  • Monitor and maintain the physical wellbeing of animals
  • Identify and report signs of ill health or injury in animals
  • Administer and record animal treatments

Module 5

  • Observe and record animal behaviour
  • Assist with managing undesirable animal behaviour 
  • Implement enrichment programs 

Module 6

  • Identify nutritional requirements  of animals
  • Evaluate food sources and calculate dietary requirements
  • Prepare diets and provide food and water
  • Monitor feeding and watering practices

Module 7

  • Provide information to the work group
  • Ensure others are able to implement safe work practices
  • Implement OHS participative processes
  • Monitor compliance with work procedures
  • Implement hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control procedures
  • Implement organisation procedures for maintaining OHS records
  • Implement OHS emergency procedures

Module 8

  • Investigate current practices in relation to resource usage
  • Set targets for improvements
  • Implement performance improvement strategies
  • Monitor performance

Module 9

  • Develop a feed regime 
  • Order food
  • Communicate effectively with others about animal nutritional requirements

Module 10

  • Facilitate reproduction
  • Monitor breeding animals during the period of reproduction
  • Prepare and assist with birth or hatching

Module 11

  • Identify animal keeping information systems and software
  • Identify, collect, record and interpret data
  • Assist with collection management 
  • Interpret population management practices and principles

Module 12

  • Action collection plans 
  • Identify and transport animals between facilities
  • Contribute to collection planning policies

Module 13

  • Supervise enclosure and exhibit staff
  • Supervise animal care and housing operations
  • Implement plans for new or renovated enclosures and exhibits

Module 14

  • Prepare a presentation
  • Conduct presentation
  • Participate in other interpretive and learning activities
  • Assist in media presentations 

Module 15

  • Contribute to the development/improvement of community awareness programs 
  • Plan community awareness programs
  • Deliver community awareness programs
  • Evaluate the delivery of community awareness programs

Module 16

  • Analyse animal data profiles 
  • Develop behavioural management strategies 
  • Monitor and review strategies
  • Communicate effectively with others on behavioural management strategies

Module 17

  • Identify and design priority interpretive and learning programs
  • Develop and deliver interpretive and learning programs
  • Review and evaluate the programs or materials 

Module 18

  • Identify context for communication
  • Clarify message and engage communication
  • Take follow-up actions

Module 19

  • Collect, analyse and communicate information and ideas
  • Develop trust and confidence as leader
  • Develop and maintain networks and relationships
  • Manage difficulties into positive outcomes

Module 20

  • Establish effective work environment for learning
  • Develop a work-based learning pathway
  • Establish the learning-facilitation relationship
  • Implement work-based learning pathway
  • Maintain and develop the learning/facilitation relationship
  • Close and evaluate the learning/facilitation relationship
  • Monitor and review the effectiveness of the work-based learning pathway



What are my payment options?

Pay in full

If you pay your course fees up-front in full, you’ll benefit from a discount. When you pay in full, we don’t have to spend extra money on administration for tasks such as payment plan processing. Instead, we get to pass this saving onto you in the form of a discount.

ZipMoney Payment Plan

If you need a little more flexibility in your finances, and want to pay off your course fees over a longer period of time, you can switch to a zipMoney payment plan. Essentially, zipMoney pays your course fees for you, and you pay this loan back over 24, 36 or 48 months. As long as you are eligible, you can switch to a zipMoney plan at any time.

Payment Plan

Pay for you course in weekly or fortnightly instalments. By paying in instalments, you can schedule your payments around your regular outgoings and get ahead without breaking the bank. Open Colleges payment plans are interest-free.

Find out more

Work Placement

Open Colleges has a work placement partnership with these organisation(s):

Zambi Wildlife Retreat is Australia's first and only animal welfare establishment that can rescue, rehabilitate, re-home and offer shelter to a wide range of species such as exotic animals needing retirement from zoo breeding programs, circus and private ownership and domestics, farm animals and native wildlife. 


This course is endorsed by:

Zambi Wildlife Retreat is Australia's first and only animal welfare establishment that can rescue, rehabilitate, re-home and offer shelter to a wide range of species such as exotic animals needing retirement from zoo breeding programs, circus and private ownership and domestics, farm animals and native wildlife. 

The course contains a minimum of 120 hours of work placement

You will be required to undertake your work placement in an animal care environment. Your work placement will need to be completed in Australia, and you will be responsible for the costs of any travel, accommodation, statutory checks or other requirements related to your work placement.


Open Colleges offers this qualification in association with TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010). The testamur will be issued by TAFE NSW North Region.

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Weekly and fortnightly payment plans are also available when you pay online.

Click Enrol Now and choose a payment plan or call an Education Advisor on 1300 161 345 for more details.