Have you ever visited a zoo and felt captivated by the stare of an orangutan, amused by the playfulness of a hippo or fascinated by the size and power of an anaconda? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to care for the animals in a zoo, to design a new animal exhibit, or to educate zoo visitors about animal conservation? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then perhaps a career in a zoological park or aquarium would be right for you.
A Unique Program
Friends University has had a special relationship with the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita for over two decades. Students in the Zoo Science program take traditional college courses at the University while also taking specialized courses at the zoo and getting practical experience working with zoo personnel in and around animal exhibits. The result is a four-year Bachelor of Science degree that contains a liberal arts-based biological science framework with practical zoological experiences built in.
The Sedgwick County Zoo is one of the finest mid-sized zoos in the country and is accredited by the AZA (The Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Courses for the Zoo Science degree program offered at the zoo include Zookeeping Techniques, Captive Animal Training and Enrichment, Introduction to Captive Animal Health, and others. Only students enrolled in the Zoo Science degree program can take these courses. Most Zoo Science courses meet in the Cargill Learning Center at the zoo, but they often include time in animal exhibits and off-exhibit areas.
Working in a zoo is most often a labor of love, not a path to fame or fortune. Despite the modest pay, there is always competition for available animal keeper positions in any good zoo. And with the training and experience that comes from the Zoo Science program, a person who wants to can gradually move to more senior positions within the zoological professions.
To give our students the best experience possible, admission into the Zoo Science program is limited. We have a two-step admission process: stage one is the admission to the University and stage two is admission to the program itself. Since demand for the program is always high, admission to the program is competitive and based on factors like grade point average, standardized test scores, and existing experience or other factors.