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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Wofford creates zoology major

Wofford’s newest major will include about 12 students and an estimated 50 or more animal species introduced on campus. These animals will coexist with the cats, chipmunks and squirrels that already inhabit the grounds with little interference from the humans, predicts Dr. Ida Claire. “They’ll figure it out on their own without any help from us,” she says. “[Bio]diversity is always messy.”
Wofford’s newest major will include about 12 students and an estimated 50 or more animal species introduced on campus. These animals will coexist with the cats, chipmunks and squirrels that already inhabit the grounds with little interference from the humans, predicts Dr. Ida Claire. “They’ll figure it out on their own without any help from us,” she says. “[Bio]diversity is always messy.”

By: Steve Irwin, Staff Writer

Wofford College’s environmental studies department has fractured into two separate entities now that Dr. Ida Claire is pioneering a new zoology major with Dr. Laura Wilder. The program will accept declaration forms from students beginning in the fall of 2016, with the first graduates completing the major in spring of 2019.

Dr. Claire is hopeful that some current sophomores studying biology or environmental studies will consider adding zoology as a second major, as the two are “highly compatible.” Instead of a capstone, students complete one practicum semester of caretaking on campus, choosing one animal to raise and introduce to the cage-free habitat that will be established on campus.

“We already have semi-feral cats—now we need big cats to be the keystone species of this ecosystem. The ‘big dog on campus,’ if you will. The hawks have done a great job with the squirrels and such, but we need a new kind of predator for this new kind of ecosystem.”

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Wilder hopes that Greek organizations on campus will sponsor “mascot” animals.

“Maybe Delta Delta Delta can sponsor a dolphin on campus? We’d have to expand the fountain into a slightly larger habitat, but I could see this happening in the future.”

For now, the major will focus on smaller animal species, including scavenger species such as opossums, cats, bats and squirrels.  Most of these animals can already be found on campus, edged out of the former Greek row and into the Black Science Annex courtyard.

The unusual haven ecosystem created in the mural-filled space was what led Claire to create the program: “we already have an entire family of opossums living inside the BSA basement, and they’re coexisting with the cats quite nicely. They even share food. It’s so neat!”

Senior biology major Drew Whitewater says he is “disappointed” that he cannot major in zoology.

“I’m trying to find a job in the field in zoology right now, and I’ve got nothing thus far. Maybe if I had raised an orphan squirrel or released bearded dragons on campus, I’d be more hirable.”

Some students express concern over the decision to include a cage-free habitat on campus, worrying that walking to class may involve dodging angry geese, smelly pigs and territorial panthers. Freshman English major Susie Sweetwater says she might have to get creative in order to protect herself from being trampled by a herd of longhorns.

“I might just have to stalk some of the taller students when I walk around campus, so that I can climb up on their shoulders and get to high ground at any time.”

Others have considered carrying pepper spray or high-pitched whistles to ward off attacks, though Wilder warns that assaults on the wildlife will be prosecuted.

“We will not tolerate animal abuse. If a bat shows up in your dorm room, that’s where it needs to stay.”

Students who wish to add the major must present a 60 minute discussion to a panel concerning their choice of practicum—before they can even be admitted to the department.

“It’s a rigorous process, sure. But we are striving to be the caliber program that we see in other departments… biology for example, is infamous for weeding out its potential graduates. Maybe our process or our animals do the same thing.”

Nevertheless, Wilder and Claire are confident that the major will enrich Wofford students’ experiences as undergraduates.

“It’s your world,” says Wilder. “Let’s make it wild.”

Disclaimer: This is a satirical article of pure fiction for our April edition, The Old Black & Blue

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