The City of Alexandria and LSUA held a press conference to announce the creation of a one-of-a-kind program in Louisiana.
Director of the Alexandria Zoo Dr. Max Lakes is grateful to LSUA for offering a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Concentration in Zoo Sciences.
“This is going to allow students from the very outset to have the skills to where, maybe even start at a zoo somewhere as a keeper, go into other different fields or other types of animal care because they will have that knowledge available.”
Students will take classes at LSUA and receive hands-on instruction in the live environment of the zoo.
Dr. Max Lakes says, “They’ll have their core classes that they’ll get at LSUA and then they’re going to come here at the zoo for specific classes so how to work with different types of animals, how to actually take care of them, what goes into the daily routine of being a zookeeper.”
LSUA Chancellor Dr. Paul Coreil says students who earn this degree can learn how to save wildlife.
“Zoos are so crucial to people understanding what wildlife requires, what kind of habitats we need, and endangered species recovery, we have a lot of animals that are threatened and endangered. Zoos can help to bring them back where they can be released into the wild.”
This degree features a unique partnership between LSUA and the professional staff at the zoo.
Mayor of Alexandria Jeff Hall says, “It’s important for LSUA to be a part of this program that we have because it gives students another dimension, another way of dreaming, figuring out what it really is that I want to do and come to find out, you can make a wholesome living being employed at a zoo.”
LSUA Chair and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Nathan Sammons says it is difficult to enter the zoo industry without proper education and certification.
“The coursework that they’re going to be doing is tailored specifically for this career and then working at the zoo offers that practical experience that students would never get if they’re majoring in just Zoology, or they’re majoring in Vertebrae Biology, or Wildlife Biology so that’s what I’m most excited about.”
With this degree, graduates can secure the necessary national credentials to work in AZA accredited zoos and aquaria.
LSUA already has students lined up to start the program in January of 2023.