UNE opens the animal world to science students

Published 22 October 2010

phonwonA new Animal Science degree program at the University of New England will offer students opportunities to gain work experience in exotic locations such as South African game parks.

UNE’s Bachelor of Animal Science program, to begin next year, has three specialist majors: Livestock Production, Wildlife Management, and Canine and Equine Science.

One of the champions of the new degree program, Dr Wendy Brown, travelled to South Africa earlier this year to explore the potential for students to gain experience working with wild animals in Africa. “There’s a fantastic program at the University of Pretoria that offers – over a three-week period – hands-on experience with some of the major African wildlife species,” she said. “I’ll be encouraging wildlife students to take part in this program.”

“People who are serious about working in the field need wide experience,” Dr Brown said. “And there are a lot of similarities between wildlife management practices in Australia and overseas.”

She said that there would also be opportunities for students to gain work experience with volunteer agencies in Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, and that she had tested the ground with one of her postgraduate students – Phonwon Singhaphan – who is doing research with elephants in Thailand. (Phonwon Singhaphan is pictured here, with “Ellie”, in Thailand.)

The degree program’s Canine and Equine Science major responds to the growing demand for animal specialists in – for example – services that employ “detector” dogs (including the police, customs and quarantine, and military services). “There’s a world-wide demand for detector dogs,” Dr Brown said, “and there’s currently no tertiary-level training for those working in the service dog industries.” UNE’s new degree program is, in fact, the first in the world to offer comprehensive scientific and practical training in the management of domestic dogs.

Dr Brown added that Australia’s large equine industry offered good job prospects for students specialising in horses, as the industry was seeking graduates to fill management as well as research positions. “The animal feed and pet food industries will also be looking to employ our Canine and Equine Science graduates,” she said.

The Livestock Production major will enable students to specialise in fields such as sheep and wool science, animal health and nutrition, intensive animal production, animal genetics, and consultancy and advisory services.

In expanding the traditional focus of animal science courses to include all animals and the careers related to them, UNE’s new degree program will allow students majoring in livestock production to include elective units on dogs, horses, or wild animals in their program.

UNE’s Bachelor of Animal Science program is a four-year full-time (eight-year part-time) degree course, and is available to both on-campus and distance-education students. For more information go to www.une.edu.au/animalscience or phone 1800 818 865.