News & Events

Zoological Education Centre Taking Shape

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Students, staff and special guests attended a special ceremony to celebrate the work that has already been completed for the foundations and steel structure for the brand new £3.65m Zoological Education Centre on the Shuttleworth site.

Guest of honour, Owen Craft, General Manager at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, was joined by student ambassadors, CEO and Principal Ian Pryce CBE, Centre Curator Carl Groombridge and College Governor, Alasdair Simmons to tighten one of the structural bolts for the steel frame that is quickly becoming a significant facility based at the campus on the Old Warden Estate near Biggleswade.

The new centre will bring the Amazon and the Outback to the campus which will be able to boast the only specially designed biome to house tropical creatures and plants from across the world for a further education college.

Students will be able to learn about even more animals once the new centre opens after Carl Groombridge and his team have worked alongside the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to create an environment where animal welfare is paramount.

The highly specialised ZEC will allow students to prepare for specialist careers for prestigious zoos and conservation centres after having the opportunity to care for animals from the Malaysian Jungle Nymph to Mississippi alligators which will have their own pool!

ZEC taking shape

Timelapse video of construction work so far...



No crocodile fears at Zoo Centre

Monday 1 October 2018

The highest standards of animal welfare will be maintained at the new £3.65 Million Zoological Education Centre now underway at Shuttleworth College on the Old Warden Estate near Biggleswade.

Bringing the Amazon and The Outback to Bedfordshire, Shuttleworth College’s ZEC will be the only Further Education centre in the UK to have a specially-designed biome for housing tropical creatures from around the world. The unit will follow an “Evolutionary Pathway” along which students will learn how to look after every “order” of the animal kingdom. It will include an aquatic room, bird flight area and outside paddocks for the bigger animals. 

This highly specialised training which young people can undertake at The Bedford College Group facility will prepare them to follow the trails cut by earlier students who are now working in prestigious zoos and conservation centres.

Carl Groombridge, Centre Curator said: “The facility will allow us to expand the range of animals we have here. For example we already have some caiman small-sized crocodilians, but will now have Mississippi alligators too in their own pool.

“We are already part of an international conservation and educational network, but this new facility will put us firmly on the world map. For me it is a dream come true.”

Carl and team have been working closely with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which owns London and Whipsnade zoos, to create an environment where animal welfare is paramount.

For Designcubed architects Stephen Blowers and Rob Starnes the project brings with it many extra challenges - designing an environment for wild animals as well as the staff and students means mitigating risks posed by handling and issues of bio-security to avoid cross-contamination.

Carl and architects

“The new Zoological Education Centre has been designed with strong biosecurity segregation whilst housing a wide range of species. The centre has the potential to provide class leading enclosures including a pioneering tropical biosphere with lightweight ETFE roof, allowing for learners of all disciplines to study natural sciences. We have been delighted to develop the centre in close collaboration and with the support of ZSL, Carl and his team, to allow for quality training to industry standards. The new centre will allow opportunities to gain more standing within the educational community for higher education and authoritative bodies.”

As the construction crews start work on preparing the site, Rob and Stephen are adding the finishing touches to design features in conjunction with Carl and his team. Between now and the opening of the new centre to students in September 2019, the animals from the existing units will have to be moved and settled in to their new home. 

“It will be the animals going in two by two,” said Carl.


Rainforest comes to Bedfordshire

Tuesday 1 May 2018

In June 2018, work will begin on a a new £3.65m modern standalone Zoological Education Centre by The Bedford College Group on its Shuttleworth College campus. The facility will include a range of specialist animal care teaching areas; a tropical Biome and new teaching facilities.  In the new centre, the college will be able to expand the range of courses available for teaching animal care. The Biome and other parts of the centre will also be open for school and educational visits.  The Zoological Society of London is assisting the college with the design and specification of the centre.

The Biome will be the first facility of its type to be developed by an FE college.

Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire will be the home to an “Eden style” zoological education centre complete with tropical rainforest setting, immersive bio-sphere and a wide range of species.

Animated plans for the  £4 Million complex can be viewed here, with a voice over by Shuttleworth’s very own ‘David Attenborough’ the Manager of the current Animal Centre, Carl Groombridge.

Rainforest comes to Bedfordshire

Photos shows L - R Alison Pearce, Head of Department for Animal Studies, Carl and Catherine with plans of the new centre.

The new Zoologicial Educational Centre will open for the new term of September 2019 by which time existing animal buildings will be demolished and the wildlife given time to settle into new surroundings.

Shuttleworth College has already a huge range of animals from endangered Iguana to loveable Meerkats, South American llamas and colourful tropical birds. In fact there is one representative of every ‘order’ within the animal kingdom. 

Shuttleworth has been working closely with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which owns London and Whipsnade zoos, to create an environment where animal welfare is paramount but young people can train to work anywhere in the world.

“It is a state of the art development, an Eden for fauna and flora, a living classroom where students can learn how to care for creatures in an environment which is close to the real world,” said Carl,

“One bubble dome area will replicate Costa Rica which is the nearest thing to heaven for conservationists on Earth.  

“The facility will allow us to expand the range of animals we have here. For example we already have some caiman small-sized crocodilians, but will now have Mississippi alligators too in their own pool.”

Conservation and care for the animals is the key priority while allowing students to learn how to support endangered species. Shuttleworth College has already won international recognition for helping to breed from an endangered Iguana.

“We are already part of an international conservation and educational network, but this new facility will put us firmly on the world map. For me is a dream come true,” added Carl who has worked at Shuttleworth College for 13 years.

Director of Shuttleworth College Dr. Catherine Lloyd said: “This is quite simply the best educational facility of its kind in the UK and will enable us to offer students courses from entry level at the age of 16 and progression on to Degree level qualifications will take them into any job in the world.

“Careers in animal welfare, conservation and zoos in centres, parks or as vet nurses are awaiting those who study here at Shuttleworth College.”

Ian Pryce CBE Principal and CEO of The Bedford College Group which is investing £5 Million+ at Shuttleworth College after signing a 40-year-lease on the Old Warden Park outdoor education facility said: “We are creating learning and employment opportunities for young people not just in the South East region, but across the country and the world. This facility will be a world class educational setting which will be a tribute to the long-standing international reputation of Shuttleworth College.”

Building the “ark”

Building Project Manager Mark Eustace explains the Zoological Centre was designed to be  “green” from the blueprints to brickwork. “We have worked closely with experts from the ZSL so that this building meets full zoo quality standards. The bio dome will be a unique teaching environment, there is nothing like it the UK. It will be sustainable and energy efficient, bio secure and suitable even to allow visitors on educational trips, from local schools for instance, to attend.”

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