B.A. or B.S. in Zoo & Conservation Science

In partnership with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio Wildlife Center, and Reef Systems Coral Farm, the Otterbein University Department of Biology and Earth Science offers one of the top programs in the country where students can earn a B.A. or B.S. degree in Zoo and Conservation Science. Students also select from the Zoo Track or, the Aquarium Track, a new program which is the only one of its kind in the Midwest.

This unique, cutting-edge major allows students to explore animals, their husbandry and health, while developing the critical thinking skills needed to frame and solve problems occurring in zoo environments, aquariums, or wild animal populations which come in contact with human populations.
Otterbein is only one of five universities to offer a bachelor’s degree in Zoo and Conservation Science.

Note: Otterbein’s Zoo and Conservation Science program is competitive, admitting only 24 students to the Zoo Track and 12 students to the Aquarium Track each academic year. Students wishing to major in Zoo and Conservation Science are admitted to Otterbein University as a Pre-Zoo and Conservation major. Students apply to the program at the end of spring semester of their first year after taking core biology and chemistry classes, and completing ZOSC 1010, an introduction to zoo science.

Please see the Admission Selection Criteria for the minimum criteria needed to apply to the program. Note that the 36 most competitive candidates will be selected from the pool of applicants that meet these minimum criteria.

See our Zoo & Conservation Science FAQ (FAQ) for more information.

Detailed Curriculum Information

Bachelor of Arts in Zoo & Conservation Science (PDF)
Bachelor of Science in Zoo & Conservation Science (PDF)

Bachelor of Arts in Zoo & Conservation Science Aquarium Track (PDF)
Bachelor of Science in Zoo & Conservation Science Aquarium Track (PDF)

Admission Criteria for Zoo & Conservation Science (PDF)

Internship Experiences

This blog is a place for our students to share their internship experiences as they work with zoos, aquariums, and other animal and conservation based organizations around the world.

Curricular Highlights

  • A first-year course introducing students to Zoos and Zookeeping or Marine Science in all of their facets
  • Practicum experiences at the Ohio Wildlife Center in the sophomore year including hands-on rehabilitation experiences with native Ohio wildlife
  • Practicum experience at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in the junior year including behind the scenes experiences involving enrichment and training or up-keeping your own salt water tank, visiting local aquariums, freshwater conservation and aquaculture facilities.
  • Upper division Biology courses in topics such as animal nutrition, animal reproduction, vertebrate biology, invertebrate biology, coral reef ecology, aquatic biology and conservation biology.
  • A semester long internship at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (for ten students) where students get the chance to work closely in a single area of zookeeping or education; other internship venues might include the Wilds, Reef Systems Coral Farm, other zoos, or at other appropriate agencies devoted to aquariums, wildlife or conservation
  • The chance in the senior year to conduct undergraduate research on zoo animal behavior, visitor studies, tadpoles, coral reef ecology, freshwater mussels, or wildlife rehabilitation records.

Otter Budgies: The Birds in Otterbein’s Science Building

Dr. Anna Young, Assistant Professor in Otterbein University’s Department of Biology and Earth Science and Director of the Zoo and Conservation Science program, talks about the budgerigars (or “budgies”) in the Science Building.

Student Learning Outcomes University Learning Goals (KMERI*)
Students will be able to define and explain major concepts in the fields of Biology and/or Earth Science. Knowledgeable, Multi-literate, Responsible, Inquisitive
Students will be able to effectively express scientific concepts or results in oral and written forms. Knowledgeable, Multi-literate, Engaged, Responsible, Inquisitive
Students will be able to think critically and solve problems by employing the scientific method. Knowledgeable, Engaged, Inquisitive
Students will develop laboratory and research skills. Knowledgeable, Multi-literate, Engaged, Inquisitive
Students will be able to work cooperatively while simultaneously becoming strong independent learners. Knowledgeable, Engaged, Inquisitive

*NOTE: KMERI refers to Otterbein's learning goals. It stands for KnowledgeableMulti-literateEngagedResponsible, and Inquisitive. To learn more about KMERI, visit our University Learning Goals page.