Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

The Call of the Wild

man feeding hippo at the zoo

Caring for wildlife in captivity today is very complex and involves many different fields, as well as being intricately tied to species survival in the wild. Zoos are no longer simply showcases where animals are presented for the entertainment of guests. Modern zoos work to conserve threatened and endangered species, from the large to the small, both on the zoo grounds and in their natural habitats. A variety of career fields are available including education and public relations, record-keeping, research, conservation biology (including overseas work), horticulture, veterinary services, and a career ladder that may include zookeeper, senior keeper, curator, and zoo director.

The biology and management of zoo animals requires a great deal of knowledge to maintain a sustainable population of animals in captivity and insure their physical and mental well-being. It is critical to learn about the anatomy, physiology, reproduction, behavior, and nutrition of a very wide variety of animals. You also need a great deal of practical experience working with all types of exotic animals to be able to put your knowledge into practice. Animal husbandry, handling, health management, population management, training, enrichment, record-keeping, and exhibit care and management are all important. Education and guiding the public towards an appreciation of animals is a new and critical role of the zookeeper as well. You will need to excel in public relations as well as in animal management.

Degrees and Certificates

In this program you can earn the following:

  • Associate of Applied Science Degree

See the catalog for curriculum information.  For program admission information, please visit BMZA Admissions.

Unique Program, Unique Partners

PCC's Biology and Management of Zoo Animals (BMZA) program is the only program of its kind in the state of Oregon, and one of only three found in the western United States. This program being offered in partnership with the nationally recognized and respected Oregon Zoo and including additional experience at many other unique facilities in the region. Availability of internship spaces will limit space availability in the program, and a selective admissions process will be in place to increase the likelihood of student success within the available spaces.

Logo: Learner partner, association of zoos and aquariums

Our program has also been designated as an official Learning Partner of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which means that some of the courses in the BMZA program will also qualify as required electives for different concentrations in the AZA Professional Development Certificate Program.  The AZA Certificates are organized into concentrations such as behavioral husbandry, education and interpretation, and management and operations.

What's Next?

biology and management of zoo animals program flag
  1. Still have questions you want answered before applying? Refer to this Prospective Student Checklist.
  2. Apply for admission to PCC.
  3. Complete the program prerequisites (See Catalog).
  4. Apply for admission to the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals Program.