“We are grateful to the Williams Companies for this gift that allows us to start-up our new biology lab. Sustainable topics, like wildlife management, are vital to business and education as conservation issues remain in the forefront of news all over the world,” said WLU President Stephen Greiner.
“This gift is important in so many ways. Results of our studies will be used to recommend landscape management techniques that are beneficial to wildlife conservation and economic development in the Northern Panhandle,” Greathouse said.
The SWiM Lab is located on the first floor of Arnett Hall and includes aquariums and huge tanks full of fresh water that allow wildlife to hatch and grow. Several of the key projects associated with the funding of the SWiM Lab will include facilities and supplies for the rearing of Eastern Hellbender Salamanders at the university for reintroduction to streams and rivers in West Virginia in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Wildlife.
“More than 300 Hellbenders are now housed in the new lab and many were hatched and raised at West Liberty. They will be reintroduced into the streams and rivers of West Virginia. These animals are rare throughout their range,” according to Greathouse. “Hellbenders are candidate species for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.”
Camera survey equipment and a bi-fuel truck also have been funded and will be utilized for students to study habitat use of energy right-of-ways by bobcats, foxes and golden eagles, Greathouse added. The new truck should be on the road later this year.Greathouse, along with the animal care staff at the Good Zoo, Oglebay Resort, was the first to hatch eggs from this species in a zoo or aquarium when he was the curator of animals there in 2007.
Funding also has been provided to create animal enclosures and handling equipment for students in the Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology; Pre-veterinary Medicine; Environmental Science Education; and Zoo Science majors at the university.Survey equipment also has been funded for students to study the benefit of energy right of ways as potential habitat for the monarch butterfly.
“Already at least a dozen students are using this lab and once it’s up to full capacity, we expect hundreds to actively benefit from the research and hands-on experiences that the SWiM lab offers,” said Greathouse.
Greathouse joined WLU this past August and is one of the co-directors of WLU’s new Zoo Science major, now enrolling students interested in professional careers in zoos and aquariums. Besides the Good Zoo, he formerly worked for The Wilds, a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center near Zanesville, Ohio that is a part of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s family of operations.
The College of Sciences at West Liberty University includes the departments of Health Sciences, Natural Science and Mathematics and the Physician Assistant program.
For more information, please visit westliberty.edu or call 1.866.WESTLIB or contact Dr. Greathouse [email protected]
For more information on giving opportunities at WLU, please contact Vice President of Insitutional Advancement Jason Koegler at 304-336-8888.