Study Abroad: South Africa

I spent most of May on a study abroad trip to South Africa to learn about animal behavior and welfare.  My main objective in taking this course was to compare wildlife policy in the United States to wildlife policy in Africa. I found that they were very different.

I took almost 6,000 photos on my trip, and will be posting them along with my journal entries to this blog under the category South Africa. You can find my papers and presentations for this course below.

Pre-departure Trip Expectations

Final Reflections Paper

Final Reflections Video

Program Description

The goal of this program is to help students learn and exhibit an understanding of exotic animal species behavior and welfare considerations in the context of: 1) variation in environmental habitats (open range, controlled contact, and zoological settings, etc.), 2) management of animal health and well-being, and 3) comparisons with domesticated species.

We will achieve this goal through exposing students to behavior, welfare, and health conditions of exotic animals found in South Africa and providing a context for comparison with the perceptions gained through experiences in the United States. Students will garner an appreciation for how exotic animals behave in habits that include open-range, semi-contained, sanctuaries and zoo settings. Additional hands on experiences and exotic animal interaction opportunities and discussions will address how history, government, geography, and infrastructure may impact how exotic animals are handled with regard to population maintenance, genetic diversity, health management, and the role of humans in addressing current and future challenges. Students also are provided with an opportunity to learn and engage in discussions with a trained, experienced exotic animal guide who will serve as the on-site coordinator of all activities.

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Identify and evaluate key behavioral characteristics of exotic animals in relation to the animal’s habitat and external influences;
  2. Characterize the challenges and opportunities of managing exotic animal populations in relation to society expectations, competing domesticated species, government policy, and cultural perspectives;
  3. Identify and explain the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence health and well-being of exotic species and the scientific approaches used to address exotic animal health issues;
  4. Appreciate the diversity, complexity, and value of alternative exotic animal management approaches on animal and their surroundings.

This program has two travel sections and will take two groups of students for 2.5 weeks each.