JOPLIN, Mo. — A part of campus at Missouri Southern has gone wild.
While some biology departments have taxidermied animals on display in their hallways, MSSU has recently added several live ones, including Hollywood the Snake.
It’s the idea of Dr. David Penning, who started small a few semesters ago, and has grown exponentially.
“The main push has been this summer, so from probably May till last week or so, we’re up to 13 cages out there so the University kind of stepped up and so did a couple other donors to help me get some animals and kind of just make it a wilder place,” said Dr. David Penning, Assistant Professor, MSSU Biology Department.
But Penning says the new additions aren’t just for show.
He says students get to learn how to care for these animals and take some of them out in the field to show to school kids and the public at events like Third Thursday.
“So students are actively taking care of the animals, I supervise all of them, so they keep a regular work schedule, and they’re not normal animals, like this isn’t caring for a puppy or anything, this is an African Bull Frog, and Indonesian Frilled Dragon, they’re things that people don’t have, as pets most of the time, so they learn about they’re unique diets, unique habitat needs,” said Dr. Penning.
“Snakes, frogs, turtles, we have a three toed amphuma which is kind of rare to see, honestly, some museums don’t even have three toed amphuma, so it’s kind of crazy that we have this and can display it for people to see,” said Lexis Mader, MSSU Senior Biology Student.
Depending upon their major, biology students can get a head start in their field of study even before they start graduate school.
“It helps us with animal husbandry and so we can clean and feed and take care of them, so if someone wants to become a vet, they have that hands on experience, not a lot of vets really get experience in reptiles and amphibians,” said Mader.
If you’d like to see the animals yourself, they’re located in displays on the second floor of Reynolds Hall.