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Michigan State UniversityLyman Briggs College


Briggs Freshmen Visit Potter Park Zoo

Twenty-three freshmen visit Potter Park ZooTwenty-three freshmen toured Potter Park Zoo in Lansing this week as part of their LB 133 class, a class all Briggs students take to begin the exploration of the history, philosophy, and sociology of science.

"Each year I take my students to Potter Park Zoo at the end of our unit on the history of zoos as places for science, conservation, education and recreation. Students read articles on the history of zoos and synthesize that material with the field trip for a paper," said Georgina Montgomery, assistant professor in Briggs and the history department.

Students consistently say the field trip is great fun and a great learning experience, and many engaged in conversation with Potter Park Docent and Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Horvatin (who led the tour) about the history of Potter Park Zoo and the exhibits found there.

Students examine a more natural exhibit, which currently houses ostriches"I've been really looking forward to going to the zoo since I found out about it on the first day of class, because I'd love to work at a zoo one day," said Briggs freshman Natalie Rasmussen.

"This field trip was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of it."

Among other things, the field trip was designed to talk about considerations that went into the history of exhibits. Topics of discussion included concepts such as barriers, and how they have changed over time to make both the animal and visitor safer without negatively impacting visibility.

Students enjoy the monkey house, including a simple cement exhibit with a mongoose lemurA zoo was defined as a place that not only houses animals (which could be a farm or a shelter), but one that exhibits them with the purpose of education.

Other topics discussed by students included ensuring natural habitat, identifying the proper types of food and water, social planning, and enrichment.

For more photos of the field trip, including pictures of the animals, please visit our Facebook page.


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Old Cement-style enclosure at Potter Park Zoo
The Potter Park Zoo, opened in 1920, started with cement-cast exhibits, now unused.

More landscaped and natural style enclosure at Potter Park Zoo
The more landscaped, natural enclosures began to appear several decades later, and are still used today.

Modern, more elaborate exhibit-style enclosure at Potter Park Zoo
The more elaborate enclosures, although more suitable, have only appeared recently due to expense.

One of the newest, exhibit-style enclosures at Potter Park Zoo
Potter Park is now switching many exhibits over to this.

For more information about Potter Park Zoo, or to plan a visit, please click