Comparative Animal Behavior

Comparative Animal Behavior

Want to talk to the animals?

Help a local zoo design better enrichment programs for the animals that live there. Learn how great apes think by “talking” to one with a 3,000-word English vocabulary. Publish research on how birds learn and perceive their environment. Conduct primate conservation research with your seminar class in Uganda. These are just a few of the experiences you can have as part of the Comparative Animal Behavior concentration at Drake University.

You will study the science behind animal behavior, looking not just at how animals behave but why they behave as they do. Topics of study include evolution, neuroscience, psychology, and much more.

You’ll be able to engage in significant experiential learning with multiple species. Some of these experiences and internships are made possible through local resources including Drake’s existing laboratories; the range of animal species at Des Moines’ Blank Park Zoo; Iowa’s naturally diverse farm animal and wildlife populations; and the Ape Cognition & Conservation Initiative (ACCI), home to rare and endangered bonobos and one of the only places in the world where humans can share the English language with great apes.

Where your studies can take you

This interdisciplinary program of study, coupled with relevant major work, will prepare you for employment or advanced study in fields that involve the behavior of captive animals and wildlife. These fields include—but are not limited to—psychology, ethology, neuroscience, veterinary medicine, and conservation biology. All students are encouraged to seek laboratory and field experiences in addition to required coursework.

Concentration requirements

15 credit hours in required core courses and 12–17 credit hours in topical electives.

For course specifics, visit the Comparative Animal Behavior concentration course catalog description.

Career paths

This concentration can be paired with major areas of study to prepare for myriad careers. Students can pursue postdoctoral study in medical, veterinary, and other fields; build careers in teaching or research (neuroscience, animal science, wildlife biology, entomology, ecology); specialize in animal behavior or psychology; and work in zoos and aquariums, conservation groups, or museums.