The Jackson Zoo formalized an extended partnership with the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the MSU-CVM Provost and Executive Vice President, Mayor of Jackson, and Executive Director of the Zoo, on Wednesday.
There has been a partnership in place for years, where MSU-CVM students visit the Zoo for hands-on learning about exotic medicine. With mutual goals, such as improving health and care of animals, providing quality education, and advancing research, the two institutions are expanding the current partnership by creating a formalized program that will give students the opportunity to earn credit hours through the Jackson Zoo. The Zoo’s Executive Director, Beth Poff, said she is excited to extend this partnership with MSU-CVM.
“Our zoo is a wonderful teaching tool and the MSU-CVM students and faculty have the brain power and enthusiasm to help us advance our research on endangered species,” said Beth Poff, director of the Jackson Zoo. “We want students here to publish research and help us expand our species survival plan. This type of work doesn’t just benefit the zoo, it is important for understanding and preserving endangered species around the world.”
Mayor of Jackson, Tony T. Yarber, is also excited to formalize this partnership, as he sees it to be beneficial for the city’s substantial growth and developmental plans.
“This partnership fits within our city and state-wide mission,” Mayor Yaber said. “We see the zoo as the epicenter of West Jackson. Building a stronger program there is the first step in developing the area and making changes that will impact the city and state. This partnership makes an enormous impact.”
The Zoo’s veterinarian, Dr. Michael Holifield, and also a MSU-CVM alum, teaches students daily management and veterinary care for exotic animals. The expansion of this partnership will allow students and faculty further opportunities to publish research, learn about biosecurity, animal husbandry, and increase hands-on experience with exotic animal care.
“We have enjoyed a long and very good relationship with the Zoo. Our students have learned a lot from Dr. Holifield, and growing this program means even more opportunities,” said Dr. Kent Hoblet, MSU-CVM Dean. “Now, our students won’t have to go far at all to get involved in research of zoological epidemiology, and understand infectious diseases in captive and free-ranging wildlife. This will certainly serve them well as they step out into their careers.”
The Memorandum of Understanding was entered into agreement on Oct. 8, 2014 and was signed by Zoo Director, Beth Poff, Jackson Mayor, Tony T. Yarber, and MSU-CVM Provost and Executive Vice President, Jerry Gilbert. The zoo will welcome students into the formalized program this spring.