2.1 Taxon-Specific Knowledge

The subject focuses on the knowledge of taxonomy and binominal nomenclature of specific taxa, to gain information from reliable resources, to gain skills in taxon-specific research and to be able to apply research to ensure appropriate husbandry and management. The specific knowledge will also be useful to educate visitors. Gaining this knowledge will invoke, on a certain level, on the intrinsic motivation of the zookeeper to educate himself to the level needed.

  • Systematics and Taxonomy: zookeepers know about the classification and nomenclature of the animal kingdom.
  • Characteristics of the Animal Kingdom: zookeepers can distinguish and recall several characteristics of groups and subgroups of the animals kept in zoos.
  • Evolution vs. Domestication: zookeepers know about the origin of species through (micro-)evolution and the origin of domesticated breeds as a result of selective breeding.
  • Hybridisation and Kinship: zookeepers understand the impoprtance of preventing hybridisation of related taxa.
  • Ecology: zookeepers have knowledge of the ecological niches of the taxa they are working with and can respond to the needs of the animal (biotical and abiotical factors, housing, feeding, appropriate care).
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
2.1.1 Systematics and Taxonomy State the classification of animals within a taxonomic system
Describe the concept of scientific nomenclature
List the common names and scientific names of species they work with most frequently
Describe the classification of taxa within the animal kingdom
Compile information from reliable sources using scientific nomenclature of taxa
Analyse new and revised information about systematics of taxa and implement this knowledge within their own department
2.1.2 Characteristics of the Animal Kingdom Name groups and subgroups of animals kept in zoos Educate visitors and colleagues about the characteristics of and differences between groups of animals using existing materials (see 4.3.3) Develop educational resources like zookeeper talks or demonstrations regarding characteristics of the groups of animals and specific characteristics of animal species (see 4.3.3)
2.1.3 Evolution vs. Domestication State the differences in the origin of wild species of animals and domesticated breeds of animals
Explain the differences of evolution vs. domestication to visitors
Describe the ways that zoos play a significant role in ex situ population management of wild species, not their domesticated counterparts (incl. mutations, such as white tigers) Analyse if a specimen belongs to an original (wild) species or a domesticated breed and evaluate its importance to biodiversity and conservation
2.1.4 Hybridisation and Kinship Define the concepts of kinship and hybridisation within the (ex situ) population Describe what information kinship provides about genetic adaptations within related families, clades, orders and genera in the animal kingdom
Discuss the consequences of hybridisation
Identify which (sub)species a specimen belongs to, using morphology and other resources (e.g. genetic information from ZIMS)
2.1.5 Ecology Describe and give examples of the ecological niche of the species under their care and recognise the adaptions of the species to ecosystems Describe the surrounding environments for the species under their care and discuss if they suit the ecological needs of the species Coordinate and evaluate suitable surrounding environments for the species under their care and evaluate how it is adapted to its ecological requirements and assess its effectiveness in meeting the species’ ecological needs


  • L.A. Urry et al., Campbell Biology, 11th edition, 2016
  • C.P. Hickman Jr et al., Integrated Principles of Zoology, 16th edition, 2014
  • OneZoom Life Explorer – OneZoom

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Last updated: 31/01/2018