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 238 ACCREDITED ZOOS and AQUARIUMS and 15 CERTIFIED FACILITIES in the U.S. and Canada.
  • There are approximately 780,000 ANIMALS of 8,600 SPECIES in the care of accredited facilities, including 900 ENDANGERED, CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, AND EXTINCT IN THE WILD species.
  • Zoos contribute more than $22.5 BILLION to the U.S. economy, supporting 198,000 FULL-TIME JOBS.
  • More than 200 MILLION PEOPLE visit zoos every year, more than all professional sports combined.
  • Zoos and aquariums play an important roll in conservation and education, providing information and training to more than 5.5 MILLION STUDENTS and more than 96,000 TEACHERS annually through field trips and outreach.

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, Class of 2020

Catalog Requirements for the Zoo and Conservation Science


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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