Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Due to the upcoming end of the partnership with the Oregon Zoo next year, the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals degree program at Portland Community College has been officially suspended. We will continue to offer the classes needed to complete degrees for our currently enrolled students through June of 2017. Please contact Joyce Kaplan or Laura Harris for recommended regional educational options in the field of animal management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals program and its field sites?

The program is headquartered at the Rock Creek campus of Portland Community College, in Washington County in the Portland metropolitan area. Our program also includes field sites, primarily the Oregon Zoo located in Washington Park.  Students gain additional experience at other unique facilities in the region such as Audubon's wildlife care center, and the primate center located a few miles from the Rock Creek campus.

Is housing available?

PCC has no dormitories or on campus housing. However there are many good housing options for students, and you can begin your housing search here (skip the first section about homestays unless you are an international student).

I live outside of Oregon, can I establish residency for tuition purposes?

You are considered an in-state student for tuition purposes if you are an American citizen or immigrant with a permanent resident status in Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada and Washington. If you apply to PCC while you are a resident of another state but you move to Oregon and establish residency here before beginning school, you can fill out a residency update form with two pieces of documentation from the list.

I will be attending from out of the region, can you tell me more about the region?

Portland Community College is located in Portland, Oregon, an amazing location for students to attend school. Get started investigating the area!

Will I need to have a vehicle for this program?

You must have reliable transportation to and from the Rock Creek campus and the cooperative education sites and any other travel. This will be your responsibility to arrange and you may find this difficult without a car although Portland does have a good system of public transportation. Get more information about parking and transportation services.

I am an international student, may I attend this program?

Absolutely! We welcome international applicants to the BMZA program and ask that you contact the Office of International Education for advising about specific requirements and application procedures for international application to the college, and then follow all directions outlined on the BMZA website to apply for this specific selective admissions program.

I already have a degree, may I attend this program or will it be helpful for me?

Many students entering Associate's degree programs in the zoo profession already hold previous AA or BS degrees in biology or a variety of other fields. This program will provide specific theory and practical coursework that is directly relevant to employment in the care, management, and conservation of zoo animals. Additionally, a number of courses in this program can be used to count towards earning any one of several Professional Development Certificates offered through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, which provide recognition of the breadth and depth of your professional training in a specific area of interest.

I want to continue on to earn my bachelor's degree, will this program work for me?

Most students in this field who do not already hold a previous BS or BA degree will have that as their goal since it is important for many positions and for advancement in this career field. Our program will provide specific theory and practical coursework that will be directly relevant to your career. Depending on very specific agreements with one or more other universities, some of this coursework may be transferable into certain higher degrees. Contact the department chair for current information.

What are my chances of being accepted into the program?

We accept 24 students to begin the program in the Fall of each year. The students are selected based on criteria the program's faculty and staff feel are important for student success. Those applicants who have researched the BMZA program and the profession and have direct animal care experience in a professional environment, successful previous college experience, competitive GPA in college and high school, who have completed their required college prerequisite course work in the field of science, math, and English, have goals in line with the program curriculum, good communication skills, and who conduct themselves in a professional manner during the interview are most likely to gain acceptance.

Do you maintain a waiting list for acceptance into the program?

No. Individuals wanting to be a student in the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals program are welcome to apply each year. The application packet materials and prerequisites have to be complete and turned into the program office on or before April 15th. Candidates not accepted into the current class are encouraged to take additional science coursework and/or obtain additional animal husbandry experience and reapply the next year. These individuals need to resubmit application materials such as a new application, evidence of additional animal husbandry work experience and/or additional academic work, and letters of recommendation.

Can I get into the program if I have not completed all of the prerequisite course requirements?

No. The complete application packet of materials needs to be turned into the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals Program on or before April 15th during the spring term of the year in which you are applying. This application packet must include the grades and transcripts of all required prerequisites for entrance into the program.

How long is the program and what will the schedule be like? Can I attend part time?

The program is a two-year, 7 term program, including required courses through the summer term. You should expect to be in class or co-op at least 4 full days per week, up to 9 hours per day. Weekend classes are included. Attendance at all classes, labs, and co-op hours are mandatory. We do not permit part-time enrollment in the program.

Are the classes difficult? Can I manage to hold a job?

The curriculum is challenging and the hours are long. You will be in class or co-op at least 4 full days per week throughout the program and weekend schedules will be included. You will also need to plan plenty of time for studying, papers, and projects during the evenings and "days off." There will also be extra-curricular activities that you will want to participate in, so we highly recommend you do not try and manage employment to be successful in this program.

Can I schedule classes when I want them?

All of the BMZA courses are offered during a specific term at a specific time. There is no flexibility when it comes to these courses. There are only a couple of non-BMZA courses during the program where you can choose your own time of day to take them.

What will I be doing at the zoo and other partner facilities?

During the cooperative education experience, you will be spending two days per week working one-on-one with zookeepers while you are assigned to two areas of the Oregon Zoo (generally among Primates, North America, Marine Life, Birds, Africa, Pachyderms, or Program Animals) to practice animal caretaking skills over the course of a year, and involves significant manual labor. . Additionally, you will be matched with one of a wide variety of our local and global zoological partner facilities for a full-time specialty practical experience course for 5 weeks just prior to graduation. Other laboratory courses involving horticulture, veterinary procedures, conservation biology, training and enrichment, and wildlife education management also have components at our partner facilities.

Are there physical requirements in this program?

You must have a negative TB test (or positive result plus clear chest xray) before each year of the program. Zookeeping is a very physically demanding profession and you must be able to perform the required tasks (such as lifting 50 lbs, climbing, shoveling, etc) with or without ADA accommodations as appropriate. Students will be required to successfully complete Circuit Weight Training during the first term of the program and maintain physical and safe work standards required in the profession throughout the program. The Rock Creek campus of PCC and our BMZA cooperative education partners are smoke-free facilities and there will not be time to leave the grounds to smoke, so smokers should meet with their physician if necessary before entering the program to plan for how to manage full smoke-free days.

Will my general studies courses from other colleges and universities transfer to PCC?

Most general education courses will. Please contact an academic advisor to see if your credits will transfer.

How much will the program cost?

See Approximate Costs of the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals program.

Is financial aid available?

Yes, see the PCC Financial Aid website.

How do I get an appointment to meet with a BMZA advisor, get a transcript evaluation, or a tour?

At the moment we do not have a specialist advisor for the program and want to make sure we can accommodate the needs of all students needing help, which would simply not happen if individual appointments were made for the myriad of requests.  We ask that you thoroughly review the materials on the website, attend a group Student Information Session if you can, and email the department chair with remaining questions.  You can determine where you stand with transfer credits by following the instructions for the Online Transfer Credit Evaluation Process  at PCC.  If you do not receive credit for BI 112 or (211+212) and CH 151 or 104 or 221 during this process but believe you had equivalent coursework, please email the department chair with the university name, course name and number, and link to the college catalog to request a substitution.