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Local students get a unique high school experience at Cincinnati Zoo

Local students get a unique high school experience at Cincinnati Zoo (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The thrill of seeing the animals at the zoo is something you really never outgrow.

Now imagine getting to take that field trip literally every day for school.

Well, the Cincinnati Zoo has a unique opportunity for local students.


"There's no program in the nation where the students are here full time, every single day, for eight hours a day and get to work in the various lab areas for two hours a day behind the scenes with the staff here at the zoo,” said Zoo Academy teacher Chris Edelen.

The Cincinnati Zoo Academy has actually been around from more than 40 years, but not many people know about it.

"People actually don't believe me when I say I go to school at the zoo,” Dionna Peterson, a senior student at the Zoo Academy.


The program is offered to juniors and seniors at Hughes STEM High School, but students outside of Hughes who are interested in plant and animal careers are still in luck.

"Anybody in Ohio can sign up in the month of April and tuition is waved,” said Tiffany Sibert, a junior student at the Zoo Academy.

Tiffany even moved here from Michigan.

“We applied hoping that I got in and when I got a message that I did it was just the best news ever,” said Tiffany.

It can be a pretty wild experience. Several zoo employees went through the academy.


"I struggled a little bit in high school and then when I got here I found a home and I really, really knew that I was in the right place,” said Tiffany.

Whether it leads to a career they love, or they pursue something else, one thing's for sure: this is no textbook high school experience.

"We get constant reports from some of the kids who are just like ‘I love coming to school now’ and so what's not to love?” said Chris Edelen.

Open enrollment starts in April and tuition is waved during that time.

If your kid is interested in the “Zoo Academy,” you can apply online. You can find a link here.

The Zoo Academy is a good fit for students interested in animal-related fields, veterinary medicine, conservation and horticulture.

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