Course Content and Outcome Guide for BMZA 107

Course Number:
BMZA 107
Course Title:
Basic Horticulture for Zoo Keepers
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the principles and importance of horticulture in the design, culture and maintenance of zoological enclosures. Covers basic plant anatomy and physiology, plant ecology in a controlled environment, plant identification and use of plant material to supplement diets of captive populations. Includes hands-on horticultural techniques for maintenance. Department permission required. Prerequisites: BMZA 110. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  • Apply an understanding of zoological horticulture to captive animal populations to assist in the design of functional and aesthetic zoo enclosures.
  • Effectively communicate within a team of zoo professionals regarding issues involving plant anatomy and physiology utilizing proper terminology.
  • Apply the principles of plant ecology to solve the challenges of zoological horticulture.
  • Assist in the cultivation and maintenance of plants in a zoo enclosure setting using basic horticulture techniques.
  • Use an understanding of the major plant groups to select appropriate plant species to be used as supplemental food sources and to identify those which are potential threats for captive populations.

Course Activities and Design

The format for this course is traditional lecture presentations plus demonstration and laboratory experience in zoological horticulture. Lecture will be presented utilizing a variety of multimedia and interactive presentations. Laboratory experiences will be largely hands-on, team based, collaborative experiences involving instruction primarily at the Rock Creek campus and possible projects at field sites.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Lec/Lab attendance and participation
  • Quizzes and final exam
  • Short assignments
  • Plant care log
  • Field day reports
  • Exhibit planning project

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Issues, & Concepts

  • Botany basics
  • Propagation
  • Plant Identification
  • Irrigation
  • Conservation
  • Native plants
  • Invasive plants
  • Browse plants
  • Pruning
  • Soils, nutrients, fertilizers
  • Plant disease
  • Basic Entomology
  • Diagnosing Plant Problems
  • Integrated pest management (IPM)
  • Exhibit maintenance
  • Exhibit design


  • Identify plant parts using correct terms
  • Hands-on experience in several methods of propagation
  • Identify a plant using a plant key
  • Know botanical and common names for plants in each of several categories
  • Basic pruning skills for plant care and gathering browse
  • Be able to do a simple soil test
  • Understand how to identify plant problems
  • Assist in performing zoo maintenance using a variety of horticulture tools
  • Select appropriate plants for use in and around a zoo enclosure
  • Understand the basics of irrigation design
  • Assist in the installation or repair of a simple irrigation zone