Students interested in wildlife and science now have a new option at West Liberty University. In partnership with the Good Zoo at Oglebay, WLU’s College of Sciences has developed an innovative curriculum for zoo sciences.
“We are excited to partner with Oglebay Resort and work with its Good Zoo to offer students a dynamic new major. Now students interested in zoo careers will be able to learn from one of the best zoos in the region. We are grateful for the cooperation and work that went into making this new major a reality,” said WLU President Stephen Greiner at a press conference held yesterday at the Good Zoo.
Graduates of the new program will earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with a Zoo Science major and will be prepared to work in the field of accredited zoo and aquarium management.
“We are always pleased to work with West Liberty University to foster future talent and are especially excited about this opportunity to provide students with real-life projects. This program offers a fresh approach that will not only enhance the students’ educational experience but also benefit the Good Zoo visitors and staff,” said Wheeling Park Commission President and CEO Stephen Hilliard.
The Good Zoo at Oglebay Resort was dedicated in memory of seven-year-old Phillip Mayer Good in 1977 with a mission to educate visitors regarding natural and physical sciences and to promote conservation. The zoo has 70 species, more than 20 of them rare or endangered, and is West Virginia’s only AZA-accredited zoo.
“We are proud to host one of only four zoo science bachelor degree majors in the United States at West Liberty and to collaborate with one of the top zoological institutions in the country. Our partnership with the Good Zoo makes our major unique. Students in the program will be exposed to hands-on, applied learning opportunities by receiving training and working with zoo and conservation center professionals and participating in current wildlife conservation research,” said Dr. Joe Greathouse, assistant professor of biology.
Greathouse joined WLU this past August. He formerly worked for The Wilds, a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center and before that he was curator of animals at Good Zoo.
“This opportunity will make the learning environment for our students unlike anywhere else in the country,” said Dr. Zac Loughman, associate professor of biology and 2014 West Virginia Professor of the Year.
Loughman also maintains an internationally known crayfish research laboratory and both Greathouse and Loughman are co-directors of the new program.
Some of the hands-on opportunities include a 10-week summer internship between the sophomore and junior year of study at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoo.
Students also must volunteer in animal labs at the university and, during the junior and senior year of study, they must complete two semesters interning at the Good Zoo.
“This is a unique major and we are very excited to offer it to our biology students. The field of zoo keepers, curators and other zoological professions is growing and West Liberty University’s College of Sciences is proud to be a part of it,” said Dean Dr. Robert Kreisberg, who leads the College of Sciences.
The College of Sciences includes the departments of Health Sciences, Natural Science and Mathematics and the Physician Assistant program.