PRCC honors biology and zoology students enrich animal lives at Wild Acres
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Community College students in the honors Biology II and Zoology classes on the Forrest County and Poplarville campuses got to go beyond the classroom in their learning this semester. They did this by constructing enrichments for select animals at Wild Acres, a unique by reservation only exotic animal experience in McHenry.
Enrichments are activities, environments or toys that are stimulating. Their use can have many positive outcomes for the animals including improved mental and physical health. These enrichments allow them to perform natural behaviors while also encouraging more activity and increased control over their own environment.
Prior to their construction, students spent time researching different animals and their habitats while keeping safety in mind. The classes decided upon four enrichments that could be used by a variety of animals.
“Each spring Bio II honor students enjoy researching, building, and implementing enrichments for animals at various facilities,” said Poplarville Biology Instructor Meagan Lee. “We were so thankful that this year we were able to work with a facility close to home, Wild Acres!
“We look forward to continuing to build partnerships with other facilities like this within our state and provide resources to be used for years to come.”
Selected for construction and installation were a puzzle box and hanging puzzle feeder for the capuchin monkeys, a ramp and platform for the leopard, and a rotating bottle feeder for the otters.
“This was such a wonderful experience for our students,” said Forrest County Campus Biology Instructor Abigail Warden. “They were able to interact with so many different types of animals and give back to a worthy organization by providing enrichment for these animals that have been provided a much-needed loving home.”
Although these were constructed with specific animals in mind, these enrichments can be used for others in the future.
“We are so honored to have had PRCC’s Bio II Honors class come out to Wild Acres last week, and the efforts of the students have significantly improved the lives of our animals,” said the owners of Wild Acres, Cody Breland and Jake Fletcher.
“From stimulating games for the capuchin monkeys, to challenging tasks for the Asian otters, all species the students chose to focus on have shown great interest and excitement day in and day out. Shuri the black leopard has a new favorite spot to spend time on, which is her new platform the students built from the ground up!
“Working with Ms. Lee, Ms. Warden and their students has been a wonderful process, and we are so thankful for everything they are learning about the amazing animal kingdom. From the staff of Wild Acres, thank you PRCC Honors.”
Students in the classes genuinely appreciated the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. This hands-on project had students taking research and applying it to a problem faced by animals in captivity: boredom.
Freshman Kailey Travis of Picayune is one such appreciative student. “I really enjoyed watching how the animals interacted with the enrichments we built. How you could see them figuring out the puzzles was amazing."
For sophomore Paul Lee of Purvis, this experience was a great fit. “I enjoyed being able to work with the animals at Wild Acres,” said Lee. “It has always been a dream of mine to work that closely with animals.”
BECOME A STUDENT AT PRCC Enrolling at Pearl River Community College requires just three simple steps:
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Any interested student with an ACT of 25 or higher and a minimum high school GPA of 3.4 can apply for the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute after being accepted to PRCC. More information about the institute can be found at prcc.edu/honors.
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