America’s Teaching Zoo continues to thrive one month after reopening with 8 new animals


Kristina Ruiz, a second year EATM student, showcases Cheyenee a red-shouldered hawk to visitors at America’s Teaching Zoo in Moorpark, CA on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Audrey Lang

America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College reigned in the new year with many new additions, including eight new animals and the reopening of the zoo last month. The zoo closed in December due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. In February, the zoo was cleared to open back up to the public.

The zoo’s reopening allowed for the public to attend the Grand Opening of the new lion exhibit, Ira’s Kingdom, and celebrate the lion’s birthday on Feb. 6. The reopening commissioned the public to see the zoo’s newest additions.

Mara Rodriguez, zoo operations and media contact, projected her excitement for the public to visit and see the newest additions.

Rodriguez exclaimed, “The greatest thing about the latest additions is that we have such a variety, which only adds to our students’ experience and our visitors’ experience.”

The Alumni Aviary entrance at the America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College.
The Alumni Aviary entrance at the America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College. Photographed Dec. 5, 2020. Photo credit: Audrey Lang

The zoo received many new animals; three mini horses, a bush baby, a bobcat, a corn snake, a sugar glider and a dog.

“Some were rescued pets; the bobcat was given to us by California Fish and Wildlife, the mini horses were great because we have been looking for new minis since the passing of our beloved horse Nick and we got these from a rescue,” stated Rodriguez.

The Exotic Animal Training and Management Department Chair, Brenda Woodhouse, has kept the zoo under all required safety protocols since last March. When the zoo closed back in December, the students returned to online learning.

Woodhouse explained, “The students have been taking their lecture classes online and most lab classes are at the zoo. This allows us to continue great animal care as well as meet the goals and learning objectives of the EATM program.”

The students were able to work hands on with the animals and at the start of the semester were able to meet the new additions. First year EATM student, Danielle Riedell, spoke upon the difficulties of online learning.

“Learning on Zoom has been okay, sometimes it can be challenging with it being new. Even the teachers have trouble figuring it out sometimes. Sometimes, since we are on a hill, the connection goes in and out which can get annoying sometimes,” claimed Riedell.

The EATM program is ensuring that all their students are still working hands on with the animals as well as continuing with their academics.

Last year, the zoo held their very first virtual fundraiser, Spirit of America’s Teaching Zoo, and the zoo has big plans for their new online fundraiser this semester. This new fundraiser will allow the public to virtually sneak a peek at Ira’s Kingdom.

“We had huge success with our last virtual fundraiser, Spirit of America’s Teaching Zoo. We are grateful for the support. Our next fundraising event will allow the people, near and far, the opportunity to have a sneak peek at our new lion exhibit, Ira’s Kingdom,” announced Rodriguez.