The LSUA College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has partnered with the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Zoo to offer a unique and innovative Zoo Sciences concentration. In the first of its kind in Louisiana, and among less than 10 programs nationwide, the LSUA Zoo Sciences Concentration within the Bachelor of Science in Biology degree program will prepare graduates to enter the rewarding field of zoo management.
Gaining entry into the zoo industry can be difficult without education and experience. When hiring new zoo keepers, zoos want to ensure applicants have the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to work with a wide range of animals, including large and dangerous animals. This skill set is challenging to obtain through classroom learning alone. With this unique collaboration, classes will be taught on-campus by LSUA professors and at the zoo by qualified professionals in the field. Students will receive hands-on experience and the practical knowledge necessary to excel in their work.
Alexandria Zoological Park Director Max Lakes said, “The Alexandria Zoo is proud to collaborate with LSUA in offering the Zoo Science concentration through the Department of Biology. The Zoo Science concentration will offer students in Louisiana and nationwide an opportunity to obtain a degree that provides the theoretical and practical application knowledge needed to work in the animal care field. We look forward to the opportunity to hire graduates from this program as zookeepers in the future.”
“All of us at LSUA are looking forward to the development of a new LSUA Zoo Sciences concentration in our Department of Biology,” said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSUA Chancellor. “In a world where zoos are often the only place that people get to learn about and interact with wildlife, it is crucial that we help prepare future zoo management professionals that are properly trained and prepared to maximize the educational impact and quality experiences provided by well-maintained public zoos. As a biologist myself, this new program is very exciting!”
LSUA offers one of the most affordable routes to high-demand jobs in zookeeping and zoo management. Graduates will be positioned to earn national certifications needed to satisfy the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation standards. The Zoo Science program offered through the LSUA Department of Biology and collaboratively taught at the Alexandria Zoo by zoo professionals will give students an edge when applying for jobs in the zoo field.
Jeff Hall, Mayor of Alexandria, spoke about the collaborative effort noting, “The Alexandria Zoo is one of the finest public zoos in the nation. We are pleased to partner with LSUA to give students the opportunity to learn from Dr. Lakes and his staff in this AZA-accredited facility. We believe this innovative program – the first of its kind in Louisiana – will not only provide quality educational and job opportunities for people from central Louisiana, but it will also attract young people from across the country to Alexandria to participate in the program.”
Students in this concentration will take courses that develop the wide range of skills required to work in zoos or aquaria. Among these skills are recognizing and interpreting animal behavioral patterns, understanding the nuances of appropriate habitats, maintaining the health and well-being of the animals, and working with preservation societies and other governmental agencies.
Written by Adam Lord
Photo credit - LSUA Division of Strategic Communications