Environmental Science & Sustainability

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Zoo & Conservation Science at Drake University

  • Zoos and conservation organizations provide exciting career opportunities for Drake students interested in animal behavior.
  • In the U.S., there are more than 4,000 INSTITUTIONS that meet the definition of a zoo, including zoological parks such as Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo, as well as other for-profit and non-profit organizations.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums recognizes 233 ACCREDITED ZOOS and AQUARIUMS in the U.S. and Canada.
  • There are approximately 750,000 ANIMALS of 6,000 SPECIES in the care of accredited facilities, including 1,000 ENDANGERED species.
  • Zoos contribute more than $17 BILLION to the U.S. economy, supporting 160,000 JOBS.
  • More than 181 MILLION PEOPLE visit zoos every year, more than all professional sports combined.
  • Zoos and aquariums play an important role in conservation and education, providing information and training to more than 12 MILLION STUDENTS annually, and more than 400,000 TEACHERS attend zoo-based workshops.

Job Opportunities

Opportunities for careers in zoo science are competitive and, today, even entry-level positions require a college degree. Drake's zoo and conservation science concentration provides our graduates the background and practical experience needed for a competitive advantage in obtaining coveted area director, curatorial, and management positions. In addition, applicants with strong academic backgrounds and operational animal experience are very competitive as candidates for many senior roles in zoos - including education, operations, member relations and CEO positions.

A Student Voice

The Zoo and Conservation Science program at Drake really kick-started my career... I was able to intern with my dream animal group - big cats - and expand my animal experience to a wide variety of ungulates and great apes through internships with the Blank Park Zoo and the Ape Initiative. I owe almost all my exotic animal experiences to this program. The hands-on experience I gained with Zoo and Conservation Science program led me to working full-time with the bonobos at Ape Initiative, and I couldn't be happier with the work I do!
Calle Uerling, Environmental Science, Class of 2020

Catalog Requirements for the Zoo and Conservation Science Concentration


Michael J. Renner
Professor of Biology & Psychology
Department of Environmental Science & Sustainability
Email: michael.renner@drake.edu
Phone: 515-271-2501

College of Arts and Sciences
Email: ask.as@drake.edu

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