Zoology: Understanding the Animal World

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Look elsewhere for entomology I don’t know if I’ll finish this course, honestly. I’m interested in zoology, but the sections on invertebrates feel like they hurt more than they help. By modeling fear, loathing, or confusion about a species, you foster it. Invertebrates suffer enough from human ignorance. The pollinator video flubbed it, but the opening of the parasites and vectors video was just gratuitously phobic. The presenter finished losing credibility with me in the first 2 min of that video.
Date published: 2021-03-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from too much bad news I loved 75% of the content but there was too much depressing conservation information which I skipped. This belongs in a different set of lectures: one I wouldn't buy. These are beautiful creatures and I want to learn about them not doom and gloom.
Date published: 2021-03-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dull and not at all educational I am going to quote another reviewer who nailed it (I took Botany too). "After taking the Introduction to Botany course from the Teaching Company, we were excited by the prospects of learning about another overlooked subject, Zoology. What a big disappointment!!!. The teacher emphasizes the ZOO part and seems to have forgotten about the ology bit. Enough "cute" giant pandas!!!. Too much of a commercial for the National Zoo and not enough content." The Great Courses seems to have something against natural history. It is way under-represented considering its fundamental natural and broad appeal. I hypothesize this is a political ploy. The company is run by conservative ant-environmentalists, who have no interest in advancing the publics knowledge and appreciation of the living wild world. That would explain why they have only slowly and grudgingly released these two series, with only one being worth the time and expense.
Date published: 2021-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thank you very much During this quarantine, I am finding ways to educate myself as much as possible - academically, creatively and both. Since I can't go to any national park or aquarium right now, this is the next best thing.
Date published: 2020-07-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Propaganda Documentary? This course contains a huge amount of information; many visuals were beautiful and even thrilling. The baby panda and baby cheetahs were adorable. Unfortunately, the course does not hold up well compared to the other 98 courses I've seen: 1. Transitions from one topic to the next were rough -- not nearly as smooth as in other courses. 2. Guest interviews were long and obviously staged -- and blurred the distinction between courses and documentaries. 3. The frequent, obvious propaganda -- for the environment, climate change, and social activism -- would have enraged me had I paid money for this course. Fortunately, I watched a library copy, so the propaganda was merely irritating.
Date published: 2020-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It is an excellent overview of the subject. On top of that, the course makes the subject relevant in the present day situation and helps one to relate and feel reponsible for helping to contribute to the proper balance of life on the planet.
Date published: 2020-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good overview of Zoology Knowledgeable instructor, easy to listen to. Nice additions of other speakers to provide review of actual studies. Really enjoyed a lot of information.
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good information but boring As a student in the zoology field, I bought this to see how relevant the information was and to hopefully learn a couple of interesting new things. Dr. Moore is an extremely impersonal lecturer, and it's obvious he's reading off the teleprompter in his monotone voice. The information is good, if you can stand to sit through his lectures. One of the most important things about making science interesting is an interesting professor, and Dr. Moore missed the mark.
Date published: 2019-12-21
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Zoology: Understanding the Animal World
Course Trailer
What Do Zoologists Do?
1: What Do Zoologists Do?

Get a solid foundation for all the terms and concepts you'll encounter throughout this course. Discover what zoologists do (it's much more than running zoos), take a close look at the phylogenic tree (the tree of life), and examine the definition of terms like species, natural selection, and conservation....

33 min
Animal Reproduction: Genes and Environment
2: Animal Reproduction: Genes and Environment

In this lecture, explore the diversity of reproductive biology and sex in the animal kingdom. Along the way, you'll cover topics including asexual and sexual reproduction, sexual behaviors in different animal groups, and some of the strangest sexual behavior in the animal kingdom: reproduction outside an animal's body....

31 min
Mammal Reproduction: Pandas and Cheetahs
3: Mammal Reproduction: Pandas and Cheetahs

One goal of zoology is to help save the world's endangered species by ensuring their ability to reproduce. Here, Dr. Moore, along with insights from two research biologists, reveals how reproductive scientists are working to help save giant pandas and cheetahs from extinction....

29 min
How Animals Raise Their Young
4: How Animals Raise Their Young

Why is parenting so essential to a species' survival? Why do some animals have different parenting styles? Here, explore different parenting styles in everything from corals to salmon to humans. Then, encounter one of the most unique examples of parental care in mammals: the golden lion tamarin....

29 min
Helpful Corals, Clams, and Crustaceans
5: Helpful Corals, Clams, and Crustaceans

Marine invertebrates are some of the most economically important animals on the planet. Learn more about them in this lecture on invertebrate "good guys" including mollusks (the largest phylum of marine animals), blue crabs, the American lobster, and corals (which surpass tropical rainforests in their levels of biodiversity)....

34 min
Bees, Butterflies, and Saving Biodiversity
6: Bees, Butterflies, and Saving Biodiversity

There are more than 1 million species of insects on our planet-over half of all known extant species. In this lecture, explore adaptations of some of the most important insects on our planet, including ants, bees, and butterflies. Also, focus on key conservation issues like colony collapse and pollinator conservation....

34 min
Deadly Invertebrates: Vectors and Parasites
7: Deadly Invertebrates: Vectors and Parasites

Mosquitos, biting flies, internal parasites-what are the real effects of these invertebrates on humans? Why are they so important to our planet? What makes mosquitos the deadliest animals on Earth? How do zoologists classify the parasites that infect humans? What happens in a zoo's veterinary pathology department?...

32 min
Bony Fish, Skates, Sharks, and Rays
8: Bony Fish, Skates, Sharks, and Rays

Here, Dr. Moore offers an up-close encounter with some of the most interesting animals on our planet: fishes. You'll examine the specific conservation needs of rays, sharks, and bony fishes; learn how fishes achieve buoyancy and how their gills work; explore how fishes adapt to cold, salty waters; and more....

30 min
Amphibians, Metamorphosis, and Ecology
9: Amphibians, Metamorphosis, and Ecology

About 350 million years ago, large amphibians were Earth's most abundant species. Now, their future may be in jeopardy. Join Dr. Moore and a biologist from the Smithsonian's National Zoo for an eye-opening lecture on amphibian biology and diversity and the ways we can help salamanders, frogs, and other species thrive....

31 min
Reptiles: Adaptations for Living on Land
10: Reptiles: Adaptations for Living on Land

Reptiles combine primitive, advanced, generalized, and specialized adaptations for life on earth. First, examine the characteristics reptiles share with birds. Then, examine fascinating reptilian adaptations like parthenogenesis and temperature-dependent sex determination. Finally, learn ways you can help reptiles like snakes, turtles, lizards, and crocodilians survive....

30 min
Beaks, Claws, and Eating like a Bird
11: Beaks, Claws, and Eating like a Bird

From kingfishers to penguins to vultures, dive into the science of ornithology, the study of our planet's birds. Along the way, you'll encounter topics like the amazing adaptations of bills; the evolution of birds of prey; and the relationship between shorebird migration and the egg-laying season for horseshoe crabs....

32 min
Form and Function: Bird Nests and Eggs
12: Form and Function: Bird Nests and Eggs

Variations in bird reproduction allow birds to survive everywhere from rainforest canopies to Antarctica. Explore the intricacies of bird breeding, nesting, and chick-raising adaptations. Topics include mating behavior, nest formation, the ways chicks are built to survive, and ways we can help birds thrive on our planet....

29 min
Taking to the Sky: Bird Migration
13: Taking to the Sky: Bird Migration

One of the most interesting events in the animal kingdom is bird migration by flight. What are the physics of bird flight? Why have some of the world's most interesting birds-like penguins and ostriches-lost the ability to fly? Do wings serve a purpose other than flight? Find out here....

24 min
What Makes a Mammal? Hair, Milk, and Teeth
14: What Makes a Mammal? Hair, Milk, and Teeth

Today, there are more than 5,000 species of mammals assembled in 26 orders and dozens of families. In the first of several lectures on mammalian life, investigate the two traits that make mammals unique from other animals: hair and milk. (And yes, even dolphins possess some form of hair!)...

30 min
Herbivore Mammals: Ruminants and Runners
15: Herbivore Mammals: Ruminants and Runners

Focus now on two types of herbivorous mammals. The first are ruminants: animals like cows and camels who rely on foregut fermentation and four-chambered stomachs to digest plants. The second are runners like horses and oryx, who've developed musculoskeletal adaptations to help them jump and escape predators....

33 min
Carnivore Mammals: Feline, Canine, and Ursine
16: Carnivore Mammals: Feline, Canine, and Ursine

Turn now from herbivores to carnivores like lions, tigers, bears, wolves, cats, and dogs. Among the many insights you'll learn are the different ways carnivores evolved to walk and capture prey, as well as their evolutionary history, which stretches back to tree-dwelling animals that lived 50 and 60 million years ago....

31 min
Primate Mammals: Diverse Forest Dwellers
17: Primate Mammals: Diverse Forest Dwellers

Gain a greater appreciation for the characteristics of primates: their longer lifespans, omnivorous diets, larger brains, and (the only trait they all have in common), inner ears. To get a better sense of primate diversity, you'll focus on a New World monkey (the golden lion tamarin) and a great ape (the gorilla)....

32 min
Size, Structure, and Metabolism
18: Size, Structure, and Metabolism

Explore how an animal's size helps it thrive. Look at allometric scaling (which helps explain diverse characteristics, like why smaller animals like mice have faster breathing and heart rates than the enormous elephant), why invertebrates are much smaller on average than vertebrates, and how bioenergetics-how animals obtain and use fuel-helps us understand animal survival....

32 min
Protection, Support, and Homeostasis
19: Protection, Support, and Homeostasis

From jellyfish to sea lions, every animal on Earth has solved the challenges of movement, protection, and homeostasis in its own way. Dr. Moore covers the diversity of adaptations that animals have developed, including scales, feathers, hair, beaks, horns, and different skeletal structures (axial and appendicular)....

28 min
Animal Energetics and the Giant Panda Problem
20: Animal Energetics and the Giant Panda Problem

Every living thing gets its energy in one of three ways: as a producer, a consumer, or a decomposer. Central to this lecture on animal energetics (including metabolism and digestion) is the giant panda, whose carnivorous physiology and plant-based diet make it one of the most inefficient feeders on our planet....

31 min
Ethology: Studying Animal Behavior
21: Ethology: Studying Animal Behavior

How do zoologists study animal behavior? How does it help them become better caretakers and conservationists? First, examine how the modern approach to studying animal behavior emerged. Then, learn how objective behavioral studies in natural conditions work. Finally, explore Dr. Moore's own observations of the Pampas deer of South America....

31 min
Think! How Intelligent Are Animals?
22: Think! How Intelligent Are Animals?

Zoologists study animal intelligence using a combination of ethology, psychology, and neuroscience. In this lecture, look at the behavior of different animals-the use of tools by animals as diverse as otters and elephants, social learning in primates and dolphins, the famous story of a "counting" horse-to determine whether or not animals think....

33 min
Combating Disease in the Animal Kingdom
23: Combating Disease in the Animal Kingdom

Around 75% of new or emerging infectious human diseases are spread from animals. Examine zoonotic diseases, which are spread between humans and animals and caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Also, consider how diseases (like canine distemper virus) threaten animals in zoos and in nature....

32 min
Animal Futures: Frontiers in Zoology
24: Animal Futures: Frontiers in Zoology

Every day, zoologists around the world are asked questions about the future of animal species. What's the biggest threat to wildlife? Why are scientists freezing animal tissues? Why do we still know so little about animal life? Have there been successes in conservation? In this "FAQ"-style lecture, get some answers....

35 min
Donald E. Moore III

While most the time, the public sees a zoo as an entertaining and educational way to spend a Saturday afternoon-and it very much is-your average accredited zoo is also a vital part of research and conservation activities going on across the world.


State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry


Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

About Donald E. Moore III

Dr. Donald E. Moore III, director of the Oregon Zoo and senior science advisor at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, is a conservation biologist with nearly 40 years of experience in wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and zoo management. He earned a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management and Zoology and a doctoral degree in Conservation Biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Dr. Moore worked at the Smithsonian's National Zoo from 2006 to 2016. He was the associate director of Animal Care Sciences from 2006 to 2014 and served as a senior scientist for conservation programs on assignment with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In his time at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, Dr. Moore helped implement major renovations, such as the Elephant Trails and American Trail exhibits.

Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Dr. Moore worked at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, where he was curator of Central Park Zoo, director of Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo, and co-chair of the society's renowned Animal Enrichment Program.

Dr. Moore has led international workshops in modern zoo design and accreditation, animal behavior and enrichment, and ecotourism in Spain, Malaysia, and South America, where he has conducted much of his conservation biology research. He is the author of Disney Learning's Disney's Wonderful World of Animals.

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