CHehaw Park’s Education and Animal Care Department and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) Biology Department are to begin a new partnership in Conservation Biology. For the first time, during Fall Semester 2012, the university and the zoo will collaborate in teaching a class in Zoo Animal Care and Maintenance.
“It has always been a dream of mine to see Chehaw used to engage students as a learning institution,” said Doug Porter, executive director for Chehaw. “This new and exciting partnership will not only be beneficial to the Park and the University, but to the greater community of Southwest Georgia as well.”
The class will be a hands-on practice oriented course in which more time will be spent working at the Zoo than sitting in the classroom. The goals of the course are to introduce students with a passion for animal husbandry and conservation to a career in zoo keeping. The course will cover the basics in zoo keeping, including, animal handling techniques, management, nutrition, breeding, behavior enrichment, exhibit design, zoo administration and public education of the major animal groups.
At Chehaw, the students will work alongside zoo professionals to learn the practical details of this important field. They also will be spending time with some of the Zoo’s leadership team, the Zoo Director, the Zoo Curator and Education Coordinator to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited Zoo.
The relationship between Chehaw Park and GSW has slowly gained momentum over the past eight years. In recent years the zoo has used student assignments as supporting material in grant applications. To date, three GSW biology majors have been hired as summer program instructors and another three have volunteered as zoo keeper assistants.
“I am looking forward to getting this program off of the ground,” shared Ian Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at GSW. “The chance to have our students working in this field as undergraduates will give them the experience that they will need when applying for future jobs in conservation,