Biology Club gains hands-on experience in exotic animal room


Senior Biology student Ruthann Antolik looks into the eyes of a ball python in the animal room in Cunningham Hall. Mar. 8, 2017. The animal Room is a project of the biology club, allowing students to gain experience with more exotic animals.

Madeline Crandall

A love for animals has become a science in Kent State’s student-run Biology Club.

“We are passionate about all things biology, including animals, sustainability and conservation efforts,” Ruthann Antolik said, a senior biology major and president of the club.

The club’s animal room, located in Cunningham Hall, holds reptiles like a 29-year-old red-tailed boa constrictor, a leopard gecko, a tiger salamander and a Pac-Man frog.

“The animal room is a huge job for a lot of our members,” Antolik said. “We have a lot of people in the club that get experience working with the animals hands on.”

The room is more than 10 years old, and it’s growing with each passing semester. Certain lab classes take trips to the room to observe the animals.

Jessica Roberts, a sophomore zoology major and co-chair on the executive board for the club, said her responsibilities for the animal room are deciding when each creature gets fed, cleaning roles and scheduling.

“We allow all of the students who come into the room to learn how to feed, take care of and handle the animals,” Roberts said. “A lot of the animals that we handle in here are snakes, geckos and lizards.”

The animal room is consistently worked on and maintained to adhere to standards.

“We just did a whole revamp on our tank systems. We cleaned all the algae from the rocks and the sides of the tank and measured all of the levels,” Roberts said. “We spent a lot of time and effort late at night with people to try to get that figured out. It’s a lot of work.”

The cleaning schedule caters to each animal’s specific needs while providing a stable, healthy environment. Students are taught to properly clean tanks and keep chemical levels balanced.

Day leaders and co-chairs are always present in the room. They are familiar with every animal in the room, providing a great source of knowledge and specific training to students for each of the animals. Safety precautions are also taken to make sure the animals are properly secured and locked.

“I never had any pets growing up, so a lot of my volunteering was at the Humane Society with mammals like cats, dogs and rabbits,” Sarah Boyer, a junior zoology major and treasurer of the club, said. “I came here not knowing a lot about reptiles and invertebrates and having all of those here gave me a lot of experience with those animals.”

In the past, the club has taken trips to museums and local zoos, where they get a closer look at their future work environment. The club also features guest speakers, including doctoral students with zoo and natural environment experiences, members of the Peace Corps and the Cleveland Metroparks workers.

The club meets Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Cunningham Hall, but its members are easily found in the animal room around the clock, taking care of and studying the non-human residents.

“It’s a really fun time being able to interact with the same people who share the love for animals with you,” Boyer said. “Learning together and discovering a lot makes it really cool.”

Madeline Crandall is an entertainment reporter, contact her at [email protected]