The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine has expanded its partnership with the Jackson Zoo in an effort to allow more research opportunities for both institutions. The announcement was made on the city of Jackson’s website in early October.
The vet college currently provides veterinary students with the opportunity to work a couple of days at the zoo. Students work under Michael Holifield, DVM, an MSU-CVM alum, to learn about the day-to-day management of zoo animal health. The existing program has been so successful that both groups wanted to collaborate on a wider scale. Under this new memorandum of understanding, students and faculty will have opportunities to publish research papers on topics such as endangered species at the zoo, biosecurity and animal husbandry.
“We have enjoyed a long and very good relationship with the zoo,” said Kent Hoblet, DVM, Dipl. ACVPM, dean of MSU-CVM. “Our students have learned a lot from Dr. Holifield and growing this program means even more opportunities. Now, our students won’t have to go far at all to get involved in research of zoological epidemiology, and understand infectious disease in captive and free-ranging wildlife. This will certainly serve them well as they step out into their careers.”
The expanded partnership will, in turn, help the zoo, according to Beth Poff, director of the Jackson Zoo.
“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,” Poff said. “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.”
Jackson Mayor Tony T. Yarber said he sees the partnership as part of the city’s growth.
“This partnership fits within our city and state-wide mission,” Mayor Yarber 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 memorandum of understanding was signed by Poff, Mayor Yarber and Jerry Gilbert, MSU-CVM Provost and executive vice president.
The new program will be open to students in the spring.