The NCCC Animal Management degree program is primarily a zookeeper and aquarist training program, allowing graduates to work in public zoos and aquariums, but also offers students the ability to work in other non-zoo settings such as shelters, sanctuaries, and even veterinary offices as veterinary assistants. Modern zookeepers and aquarists focus on the husbandry (i.e. day-to-day care) needs of many different animals, including rare and endangered species. Professionals in the field are required to be knowledgeable in all aspects of animal anatomy, physiology, and behavior, as well as the many facets of zoo and aquarium function, including enclosure design and usage.
Degree program coursework is heavily biased towards biology and is coupled with weekly internship experience at one of several local animal facilities, with the Buffalo Zoo and Aquarium of Niagara serving as the primary internship sites. Other intern sites include the Primate Sanctuary in Niagara Falls, Lakeview Animal Sanctuary, SPCA shelters, a kennel, a stable, and one or more local vet offices. The internships provide extremely valuable and practical “hands-on” experience where students are exposed to professional practices, tools, and techniques. Upon completion of the degree program, students are awarded their Associate of Applied Science degree, and can immediately obtain employment in the field, or they can further their education through the program’s 2+2 articulation with Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, where they can earn their Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with specializations in animal behavior, conservation, ecology or zoo biology.
Program Goals and Objectives
- To assist students in meeting 4 to 5 of the 10 SUNY General Education Requirements.
- To develop the students’ verbal, spoken, written and visual communications skills and abilities within the framework of a liberal arts education.
- To prepare students for successful entry-level employment at a zoo, aquarium or animal care facility.
Lorenzo Parnell ‘21
Lorenzo Parnell is an Animal Management major at Niagara County Community College (NCCC). As a non-traditional student, Lorenzo loves the hands-on learning aspect of the program in and out of the classroom. Each semester, students in the program have internship opportunities with institutions like the Buffalo Zoo, Niagara Aquarium, or your local animal shelter. “I’ve always had a love for animals and being in wildlife as well, so when I found out about this program I felt that it was going to be a perfect fit for me.”
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