2.3 Reproduction

The process by which animals reproduce is both varied and sometimes individually complicated and so requires a good zookeeper to be very well informed. In addition, discoveries that change the management of breeding process are frequent and important to recognise and apply. Zookeepers need to utilise knowledge and experience to manage and improve conservation breeding work in line with recommendations from Breeding programmes whilst ensuring that ethical and welfare needs are not compromised. It is expected that records will be consistent with EAZA Best Practice Guidelines where they have been developed.

This topic links to 4.2.5 Conservation: Breeding Programmes

  • The Biology of Reproduction:  zookeepers can demonstrate understanding of the biological principles of reproduction in a range of species.
  • Selection of Stock for Breeding Programmes: zookeepers can participate in and evaluate a breeding programme.
  • Care of Breeding Animals and Young: zookeepers can provide suitable and appropriate care for breeding and neonate animals.
  • Population Management: zookeepers can explain the principles that underpin population management in nominated species.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
2.3.1 The Biology of Reproduction Describe the structure and function of a range of taxa’s reproductive anatomy, physiology and the biological systems involved
Identify the sex of an individual in species they work with where sex determination is possible using visual indicators
Calculate gestation/incubation periods accurately and provide suitable data for the practical management of breeding animals
Describe how to determine the sex of an individual in species they work with where sex determination is only possible using other indicators (e.g. internal examination, DNA) Discuss current research and understanding of the biology of species linking this with practical care considerations
2.3.2 Selection of Stock for Breeding Programmes State the factors to consider when choosing stock to breed and also not breed and assist in ensuring formal recommendations are carried out Advise on suitability of individual animals and plan for introductions and practical set up for successful breeding programmes Assist with co-ordinating stud books and the breeding recommendations for a single species population.
Conduct checks on processes of selection and implementation of the programme recommendations
2.3.3 Care of Breeding Animals and Young n/a Provide experienced advice and describe alterations/modification to husbandry of animals in breeding programmes to meet changing circumstances.
Provide correct care and husbandry of breeding animals, pregnant/gravid/incubating animals, during parturition, after birth and neonates (including potential need for hand rearing)
Coordinate suitable systems of care within a breeding programme and guide team members to evaluate such a programme through effective use of information gathered
2.3.4 Population Management Assist in ensuring that the population of species in a collection is managed to achieve either breeding or non-breeding status in tandem with ethical and welfare considerations (under supervision) Describe which population controls (e.g. same gender groups, breed and cull, and contraception) are available and monitor their effectiveness, suggesting improvements as necessary Liaise with other agents such as programme co-ordinators veterinary staff, to jointly construct clear guidelines for contraception and population management in collections and within other regional Associations


  • Husbandry Guidelines for relevant species
  • TAG and EEP reports
  • EAZA Group on Zoo Animal Contraception – EGZAC

Paths to fulfilment

  • DMZAA Unit 6: Conservation Breeding – Sparsholt College
  • EAZA Academy courses on Population Management and Studbooks – EAZA

Last updated: 25/04/2018