Zoology is the scientific study of animal life. A branch of biology, it can include all aspects of animal behavior, including reproduction, structure, evolution, habits, classification, and the way they interact with their habitats. Its roots date back to ancient times—even Aristotle took notes on animal behavior. Zoology can be broken down into many smaller branches itself, usually depending on the type of animal being studied or the way you study animals. For example, a person may study zoography or the way an animal impacts its environment, or you may study ichthyology, which is the study of fish. It can also be both a basic or an applied science.
Whether you want a career working with animals or you're just an admirer of nature, you can benefit from studying zoology. The more you understand animals, the more likely you are to work on preservation efforts. Through zoology, you can learn what happens to the planet as a whole when an animal becomes endangered or extinct. Learning about zoology can also help dispel myths about animals and the environment and help us understand how human actions hurt or help. For example, you may better understand how destroying a forest displaces the animals who live there.
From general behavior to conservation, there are several courses on Coursera that can help you learn about how zoology applies to everyday life. An animal behavior and welfare course can help you understand not just the behavior of animals but how we can assess their emotions and how it all applies to public policy. A course about ecosystem dynamics and conservation can take you on a journey through the world's ecosystems.
Those who study zoology open themselves up to almost any career that involves animals. You can go on to become a veterinarian or a veterinarian technician. Of course, you can go directly into the field of zoology as a zoologist or biologist. Many people who study or earn degrees in zoology go on to work in laboratories or in the world of academia as researchers and professors. You can work in a zoo, aquarium, or state or national park. Other potential career opportunities include working as an animal trainer, a wildlife rehabilitator, a conservation officer, a groomer, or even a police officer with the K-9 unit.