Texas State Aquarium Partners with A&M-Corpus Christi to Teach Conservation, Welfare and Research Course

March 23, 2018

The Texas State Aquarium (TSA) and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have partnered to offer a Special Topics 3 credit course entitled “Texas State Aquarium Animal Care Operations – a Look at Conservation, Welfare and Research.” The course will be offered in Summer 2018 for advanced undergraduates and graduate students and will be located on TSA’s main campus.

Building off of its strong relationships with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI), the Aquarium entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Island University in Fall 2017. A&M-Corpus Christi and HRI have been longtime local partners of the Aquarium in education, research, and wildlife conservation and entered into the agreement to mutually strengthen their advancements in life science and engineering.

The course will provide unprecedented opportunities for biology students to study animal care activities at the Texas State Aquarium from both A&M-Corpus Christi and TSA instructors. Instructors from the Aquarium will include Jesse Gilbert, TSA’s Senior VP and COO as well as the staff of TSA’s Fish & Herpetology, Marine Mammal, and Bird & Mammal departments. A&M-Corpus Christi instructors will consist of Dr. Ed Proffitt, Professor and Chair of the Department of Life Sciences and Dr. John Scarpa, Associate Professor of Aquaculture.

Aquariums and zoos have unique requirements that balance animal care and health with public display for general education and conservation research. This course will examine these requirements through case studies involving aquatic, terrestrial, and avian organisms at the Texas State Aquarium, including discussions about the Aquarium’s administrative, dive, Marine Mammal, Bird/Mammal, Fish/Herpetology, and Wildlife Rescue and Recovery operations.

“We’re excited for this opportunity to play a larger role in molding the next generation of scientists, wildlife conservationists, and animal care experts,” said TSA Senior VP and COO Jesse Gilbert. “Our professional staff possess an immense collection of knowledge in animal husbandry, education and conservation, and we’re eager to pass on to students and prepare them for their future careers.”

“A&M-Corpus Christi prides itself on the quality of our learning and research opportunities,” said Dr. Kelly M. Quintanilla, President and CEO of A&M-Corpus Christi. “We are excited to expand our partnership with the Texas State Aquarium for a mutually beneficial exchange for students, faculty, and scientists alike.”

The class will meet at the Aquarium Monday through Thursday 9:30 – 11:25 a.m. and will include lectures and hands-on activities. Students must, at a minimum, have completed BIOL 1407 (General Biology II) and have the permission of A&M-Corpus Christi instructors. The course will be the first in a series of opportunities for students to learn about the program at the Texas State Aquarium and to gain experience in aquarium operation and conservation programs.

The Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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