Students graduate from new wildlife conservation degree 

Wildlife conservation
The first student conservationists including Jessica Lu (far left) have graduated after completing a first-of-its-kind conservation degree. Image: Taronga Zoo

Can’t decide behind animal science and conservation? Thanks to a new degree championed by Taronga Zoo and the University of Sydney, you can now do both

Studying animal science at university won’t necessarily limit you to a career as a vet! There are loads of tertiary options that offer up the versatility to work with experts from local zoos, visit state-of-the-art veterinary facilities and get hands-on experience with real-life livestock.

And if protecting animals is your passion, then perhaps a degree that’s equal parts cuteness and conservation is for you. 

Saving species with STEM 

As far as looking into study pathways go, the new conservation degree jointly offered by Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the University of Sydney is a pretty cool place to start.

The four-year degree – a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Taronga Wildlife Conservation) – allows students to study conservation science hands-on, while being taught by experts in the field (yep, IRL at the zoo).

And the graduates? As a first-of-its-kind degree, the first cohort has only just wrapped up their studies now!

“Over the past few years since this course was first launched, we have seen some devastating and real reminders of the state of our planet, the threats facing wildlife and the growing need for an army of conservationists to enable action,” stresses Cameron Kerr AO, Chief Executive of Taronga Conservation Society Australia. 

“To tackle climate change and extinctions head on, we need to take a 360-degree approach to wildlife conservation that focuses on educating a new generation of conservationists, and embedding the skills of conservation science with a passion for wildlife,” he adds.

Diary of an undergrad

Throughout the course, students are immersed in the environment of working science and conservation management, spending time at both Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and at the University of Sydney. 

Wildlife conservation
There are currently 190 students enrolled in the course, with 174 from Australia and a further 16 from overseas. Image: Taronga Zoo

The course includes study in the field at The Sanctuary – a 110-hectare conservation breeding engine room in Dubbo and home to critically endangered Greater Bilbies – where they’re able to witness conservation in action.

Graduating student Jessica Lu is clearly stoked with her time both in the field and at uni, and is confident her skills and experience will kickstart an exciting career in conservation: 

“The effects of climate change and the impact of pollutants are very real, and we are feeling it as our weather patterns are drastically changing,” she says.

“Learning about topics such as Indigenous land management strategies, the Sustainable Development Goals and threatened species conservation has definitely opened my eyes to the challenges caused by human-induced climate change and how we can help to mitigate these effects for generations to come.”

Cutest degree ever, right? If science and animals and saving the world are your thing head here for more info. 

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Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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