WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., June 22, 2018 — WLU Zoo Science major Dakotah Spencer, 22, made the news recently for some unusual work during her animal medicine class. She was working in The Wilds, a safari park and conservation center that is part of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, located in Cumberland, Ohio.
Spencer assisted in releasing a rare beetle back into the environment as part of a reintroduction program that The Wilds is working on.
The idea is to create a successful way for the black and orange beetles to survive and thrive in an area where these important beetles are no longer found in Hocking County.
Spencer found the experience important and is grateful to have the chance for learning hands-on conservation techniques.
“This was really meaningful and so much more educational than learning in the classroom. I’m glad I had this chance,” she said.
West Liberty University is one of only four colleges in the nation to offer direct hands-on experience to students in a zoo setting thanks to collaboration with two Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions, The Wilds and Oglebay’s Good Zoo.
Students learn from zoo professionals and are introduced to a variety of animal care facilities including small and large zoos and aquariums, conservation centers, nature centers, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and fish hatcheries.
Spencer is from Moundsville, W.Va. and is a rising fifth year senior at WLU. She plans to graduate in May 2019 with her bachelor’s in biology zoo science degree. At this point she isn’t sure where she’ll land professionally but she is sure she wants to continue to work with animals.
“I started out at West Liberty as a biology major but as soon as I learned of this new zoo science program, I knew it was for me. The hands-on learning and focus on animals and conservation is just what I wanted,” she said.
For complete information on the zoo science major, please visit westliberty.edu/zoosci or email [email protected]. Or contact zoo science coordinator and professor of biology, Dr. Zachary Loughman at 304-336-8923.