A college attraction has achieved a new status for its creature comforts.
Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens, which is run by Northumberland College, has been awarded full membership of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) for the quality of its animal care.
The visitor attraction, which also serves as an unusual learning facility for animal care students, achieved the status after assessments of its record-keeping, animal welfare, ethical review process, and work in licensing, diets, education and health and safety.
The assessments were carried out during a series of mentor visits by members of two BIAZA associated zoo collections.
Only two other colleges in the UK have BIAZA membership.
Kirkley Hall Animal Resource Centre Manager Steven Sykes said: “We have worked very hard since opening three years ago to ensure that we meet the industry standards set by BIAZA.
“The membership shows the public how committed we are to caring for animals and training students to the highest standards and industry practices.
“Keepers and students work very hard to ensure our animals are happy and healthy, and as a centre we work closely with other zoos on breeding programmes and co-ordinated conservation activities.”
Students have the opportunity to work in a realistic environment, practice customer service and show their knowledge of the industry to visitors.