Exotic Animal Training Colleges and Programs

Exotic animal training programs are rare, though they may be found as certificate or associate's degree programs or through teaching zoos. Read on for details about what you can learn in such programs and related training options. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Exotic animal training programs are quite hard to find at the college level, and online programs don't exist because of the hands-on nature of animal training. Some courses are taught at zoos with help from certified trainers. Most degrees in this area require basic math, science, and language prerequisites.

Degrees Certificate and associate's
Classes Animal nutrition, zoo work skills, basic veterinary principles, wildlife education
Programs Related programs include zookeeping, zoology, wildlife management, and animal science

What Types of Exotic Animal Training Colleges and Programs Are Available?

Exotic animal training college programs are very limited and competitive. Degree programs are available at the associate's degree level from community colleges in conjunction with teaching zoos and wildlife facilities. Programs are available in exotic animal training and management and also in zoo and aquarium science.These types of degrees aren't offered online due to the importance of hands-on involvement with the animals.

Programs that are offered through community colleges and teaching zoos consist of lecture courses, hands-on learning experiences and required work at the zoo. Work schedules at the zoo typically include evening, weekend and holiday hours. You'll be required to take general education courses in addition to core courses to complete the requirements for an associate's degree.

What Will I Learn in an Exotic Animal Training Program?

Through an associate's degree program, you'll develop skills in animal care dealing with animal behavior, training and wildlife conservation through theory-oriented lecture courses and extensive hands-on experiences. You'll learn to present educational and entertainment shows to the public as well as practicing all aspects of animal care, including feeding, habitat construction and maintenance.

In a certificate program, your curriculum will typically focus on specific techniques and philosophies in the training process, components of effective training, animal behavior and specific animal husbandry needs. Curricula for associate's degrees and certificates may cover topics similar to the following:

  • Animal physiology and anatomy
  • Animal nutrition
  • Zoo work skills
  • Animal care and handling
  • Basic veterinary procedures
  • Animal training
  • Wildlife education
  • Animal behavior

What Are the Prerequisites?

Most associate's degree programs require you to complete prerequisite college-level courses such as biology, zoology, English composition, public speaking and algebra prior to applying to the program. Experience with animals is extremely important regardless of the type of program you choose. Work or volunteer experience in a veterinarian office, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program or zoo is valuable and may help you to prepare for an animal training program.

Physical health is also a prerequisite for most exotic animal training programs, due to the risks of working with wild animals. You must be able to see, hear, communicate, maneuver in tight spaces and run without difficulty. Some programs require a current tetanus shot and TB test prior to acceptance into the program.

Are There Any Other Degree Options?

Because of the limited number of programs and the limit on spaces within the programs, you may want to consider a degree in a related field. Bachelor's degrees in zookeeping, zoology, veterinary technology, wildlife management and animal science are widely available. These degrees will also prepare you for a career working with animals and for graduate study in a specialty, such as marine biology or evolutionary biology. Some programs may be found as distance learning options.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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