Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
BMZA 231
Course Title:
Introduction to Animal Behavior
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the concepts of animal behavior with particular emphasis on species exhibited within zoos. Department permission required. Prerequisites: BMZA 101. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  • Apply the fundamental concepts of animal behavior to successful animal management.
  • Recognize different animal behavior patterns and apply these to maintaining animal health, safety, wellbeing and sustainable populations in a captive environment.
  • Accurately record observed animal behaviors for the purpose of data collection.

Course Activities and Design

The format for this course is traditional lecture presentations and class discussions. Lecture will be presented utilizing a variety of multimedia and interactive presentations.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Participate in and contribute to all class discussions and activities
  • Homework assignments 
  • Lecture quizzes
  • Lecture Midterm and Final Exam
  • Ethogram research project
  • Zoo oriented research papers  

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Issues, & Concepts:

  • History and research in animal behavior
  • Proximate and Ultimate causes of behavior
  • Development of behavior
  • Neural and endocrine control of behavior
  • Ethograms and Scientific observation/recording of behavior
  • Behavioral research in zoos
  • Social behaviors
  • Reproductive behaviors
  • Mating systems 
  • Parental care
  • Communication
  • Domestication
  • Natural and atypical behaviors exhibited in zoo animals
  • Explaining behaviors to zoo visitors
  • Interpretation and application of scientific literature

Process Skills:

  • Identify behavioral approaches to appropriate animal husbandry in zoos
  • Design and implement a behavioral research experiment in a zoo setting
  • Design an ethogram
  • Interpret behavioral data
  • Understand stereotypic behavior and how to approach it
  • Understand the concepts of operant conditioning
  • Utilize operant conditioning concepts to build a training plan 
  • Utilize concepts of animal behavior in a zoological setting
  • Understand the implications of zoo settings on natural behaviors
  • Discuss behavior with zoo guests
  • Utilize animal behavior concepts to approach enrichment in zoos