Become a Student

How to Apply to the EATM Program


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This page, and the other pages, will give you some information regarding the Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) Program we have at Moorpark College.

The EATM program will help you realize your dreams...!  If you have ever thought of working with animals, from training sea lions, dolphins or even Shamu at Sea World, to working on cheetah or rhinoceros conservation projects in Africa, or anything in between, then this program can help you get there.  The graduates of this program have done all this, and more..!  The EATM Program has been a major at Moorpark College since 1975, and in the past 45 years, there have been almost 2,000 graduates of the program.  These graduates are working all over the world, making a difference, and living their dreams.

This is a demanding program, as it involves a continuous two-year commitment from the students. EATM students are required to work at America's Teaching Zoo located on the Moorpark College campus, many long days and weekends, caring for the animals. (YES - we have a zoo right here on campus...!)  This requirement is in addition to the time spent attending classes.  You should plan on being here on campus about 50-60+ hours a week.  Our Zoo has almost 200 different animals, and is maintained and run almost entirely by the students, under close faculty and staff supervision.  The zoo here on the Moorpark College campus has expanded over the years.  We started with only one animal, Kiska - the Gray Wolf, in the early 1970's.  Today, there are birds, reptiles, primates, large carnivores (Tigers, African Lions, a Hyena, and others), hoofstock and much more.  Some are endangered species, and you would need to travel to the far corners of the globe to find many of the animals we have here at America's Teaching Zoo today.  There has been a big shift toward Conservation recently, and we work closely with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa, and the Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa.

It is extremely difficult to hold down a regular job during this program, as the EATM hours may vary every week. This program involves a great deal of commitment on the part of the students. You will not have much time for yourself, so make sure other areas of your life are in order. You will be working very closely with other people, and around some potentially dangerous animals. Safety is our primary concern, and there are rules and regulations that must be followed. You will also be required to give animals injections, care for and nurse sick animals, and you will become very attached to many of the zoo's animals. You will be required to euthanize some rats, rabbits, or pigeons as food for some of the other animals. Students should be able to do some moderately heavy lifting, and physical work. Also, students should be relatively healthy, as they could potentially be exposed to zoonotic diseases. Students are required to achieve a "C" grade in every course required while in the EATM program. Any grade lower then a "C" in any of the required courses, will result in dismissal from the EATM program.

There are extra costs necessary for zoo clothing, books, supplies, and off-campus trips. Public Speaking skills are very important, as you will be required to give animal presentations in front of perhaps hundreds of people, maybe several times a week. Finally, by the time you complete this program, you will be able to work in almost any situation where animals are present. Our graduates are working all over the world, in many different settings, from the movie/television industry, Las Vegas show industry, zoos, theme parks (Sea World, Six Flags), Dolphin Interaction Programs everywhere, and many other areas.

Admission Information


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This is a competitive program. We typically receive about 70-100 applications or more, for the 54 spaces we have available. For students who will start the program in mid-August, the application period is from January 1 through March 15 this year (2021). Any applications received before or after these dates will not be acknowledged or returned. There is only one new class of students starting each year, in the Fall semester. The application for the EATM Program is different than the regular application for admission to Moorpark College. To get the EATM application please download and print it online from the Application link in the left navigation menu. (If you do not have computer access, you may email us at or  from September through December, and ask to be emailed an application.)  In addition to the EATM application, official copies of all college transcripts are required, showing completion of the required prerequisites. All of these documents must be received by March 15, or your application will not be reviewed. Prospective students will also be required to attend an EATM Applicant Informational Meeting (AIM) and orientation. This AIM meeting will usually occur in March or April (we try to have this on a Friday). Information concerning the AIM meeting will only be sent to those students who have all the requested application materials on file with us by March 15.


NOTES:   EATM Program applications will only be accepted this year from January 1 through March 15.
Any applications postmarked before or after these dates will not be returned or acknowledged. Attendance at an Applicant Information Meeting is required - please make sure you keep your schedule flexible in March and April, so you are able to attend this mandatory meeting, usually held on a Monday or Friday.  We will try to let you know as early as possible after you apply, when the AIM date will be.  We only do one of these mandatory AIM meeting, and you must be able to attend.

It is strongly recommended that the students who apply have prior experience working with animals in some capacity, to help understand the long hours and responsibility necessary to care for animals. The more and varied the experience, the better! This helps to prepare you for the wide range of duties you must perform at America's Teaching Zoo on the Moorpark College campus. We suggest that you try to get as much animal experience as possible, before you apply. Some examples are; working with a Veterinarian, Wildlife Rescue Programs, Wildlife Rehabilitation Programs, Zoo Volunteer, or anything else that works with animals, either paid, unpaid, or volunteer. Dog grooming, horse training, or even working in a pet store, will all be beneficial.

Since this is a very demanding program intellectually, there are several prerequisite courses that must be completed prior to applying. All students applying to the EATM Program must have these 5 college courses completed! These courses must be completed with a "C" grade or better.     These 5 courses DO NOT need to be taken at Moorpark College, but must be taken at an Accredited College. The unit values may differ at various colleges - that is fine - check with a Counselor if you have questions.

All grades in the 5 Prerequisite courses must be a "C" or above.
  --- And all 5 classes MUST appear on a College Transcript (or AP Test) -- High School classes DO NOT apply...!

These 5 prerequisites are (with the Moorpark College equivalents in parenthesis);

  • General or Introductory Biology or Zoology course with a lab     
        (must be 4 or more semester units OR  -   5 or more quarter units)
             (IGETC Area 5B & 5C)      (CSU GE Area B2 & B3)
            (this would be  BIOL M01   or    ZOO M01 at Moorpark College)

  • Freshman College English Composition      (IGETC Area 1A)     (CSU GE Area A2)
    (must be 3 or more semester units  - OR  - 4 or more quarter units)
           (this would be ENGL M01A at Moorpark College)

  • a Public Speaking course (Speech or Communication class)     (IGETC Area 1C)     (CSU GE Area A1)
    or Acting class
    (must be 3 or more semester units  -  OR  -  4 or more quarter units)
           (this would be COMM M01   or    THA M02A    at Moorpark College)

  • a Safety and/or  First Aid type course
    (must be 2 or more semester units  -  OR  -   3 or more quarter units)

            (this would be HE M05 at Moorpark College)

  • Intermediate Algebra Math course (or higher)   
              (any higher Math class would be one from IGETC Area 2   or   CSU GE Area B4)
    (must be 3 or more semester units  -  OR  -  4 or more quarter units)
           (this would be MATH M03 or higher at Moorpark College)

    (We STRONGLY recommend you have a higher level Math class, especially if you plan to go on for a higher  (i.e.  Bachelor)  degree.  You will need a College-level math class, something ABOVE the Intermediate Algebra class listed here, in order to get a Bachelor Degree.        (recommended higher Moorpark College Math classes would be - Math M07, M15, M05)

IMPORTANT NOTES - read these carefully...!!!!

  • All 5 of the above courses should be completed and on your College Transcript(s) at the time we receive your application!   
     ----   Even the first aid course....... a Red Cross, YMCA, or other type of program/certification that gives you First Aid cards only, are not acceptable substitutes, so your application will not be reviewed. 
                                 (We DO NOT accept Straighterline courses - this is not an Accredited Institution)
                 We realize that not every college has a first aid-type course... we can work around that - contact the EATM Counselor.
  • All prerequisites should be completed and on your college transcript before the March 15 application deadline.
  • The Moorpark College course equivalents to these prerequisites are listed in the parenthesis above.  
    If you are a California Community College student, the IGETC and CSU General Education areas for many of these classes are also listed.
    These prerequisites do not need to be taken at Moorpark College, but must be from an Accredited College.
    A higher level math class then what is listed above, taken in college is recommended.
  • Advanced Placement Tests - AP Tests - (with a score of 3 or higher) may also apply for certain classes -
    (specifically the  Biology,  English & Math  requirements)
  • SAT or ACT tests do not apply toward any of the prerequisites.    College placement/assessment tests showing you have met another college's English or Math requirements, will not apply.... nor will assessing into a higher level class - you must take a class and have it on your college transcript.
  • High School classes do not apply toward the 5 prerequisites.
  • Students applying from outside the United States, who have records/transcripts from a foreign country, will need to have them evaluated by one of the evaluation services we accept.  Contact  Chuck Brinkman, the EATM Counselor for more info.

Other recommended College courses (5) that are great to have, which will finish the General Education requirements toward an Associate of Science Degree at Moorpark College are:

  • a Physical Science course (intro Chemistry is recommended) - of 3 or more semester units     (IGETC Area 5A   or   CSU GE Area B1)
  • a United States History or U.S. Government class - of 3 or more semester units     (a class from US-1  or  US-2,   or US-3   from IGETC or CSU GE)
  • a "Fine Arts" type of class - of 3 or more semester units   (art history, music history, film appreciation, etc..)    (IGETC Area 3A    or   CSU GE Area C1)
  • a "Humanities" type class - of 3 or more semester units   (Philosophy, foreign language, etc..)      (IGETC Area 3B    or    CSU GE Area C2)
  • Physical Education or Dance courses - of 1 or more semester units

Note - these 5 recommended courses above will finish the General Education requirements for the Associate Degree at Moorpark College. These 5 recommended courses above do not need to be completed before you apply
   NOTE - Any student who has an Associate Degree or higher from an accredited college in the United States, we still need to see these 5 recommended courses on a college transcript, in order to receive the Associate Degree here at Moorpark College!  So be sure you did or will do these courses.

All courses above must be lower division (freshman/sophomore level). Courses equivalent to those indicated above, taken at accredited colleges, will be given transfer credit. Contact Chuck Brinkman, the EATM Counselor, if you have any questions concerning transfer credit. The EATM staff also strongly encourages students to complete what they can of the above recommended courses, before starting the program.


These courses will help prepare you for the rigorous curriculum in the EATM program, and will also help to meet the requirements for your Associate Degree here at Moorpark College. Usually, about 40% of the students in the program have Associate Degrees, and 25% of the students who start our program already have a Bachelor's Degree. The age range of the students may vary from 18 - 50+. Students who have just graduated from high school, or those without an adequate academic preparation, may find the course work very difficult. EVERYONE who applies must have the 5 prerequisite courses completed at the time of application! You should also have a strong academic background. Please note that we have found that your high school and college grade-point-averages are very important in predicting your success while in the program. Students with better grades will be more successful here, since many of our courses are very demanding academically. Only 52 students are admitted each year. There is no waiting list for admission. You must re-apply each subsequent year if not accepted.

Talk to Chuck Brinkman, the EATM Counselor for more information. - Email:

EATM Selection Process

All students who have completed the 5 college prerequisites listed above, and apply on-time, have an equal chance of admission to the EATM Program. (Only the 5 required prerequisites - with "C" or better grades, are considered during the random selection. No other factors are considered, or will improve your chance for admission.)

You will be required to attend a mandatory "Applicant Information Meeting"  (AIM), usually held on a Monday or Friday in March or April. Information about this meeting date (we only have one AIM a year)  and time will only be sent to those who apply with all the prerequisites completed.

After the AIM meeting is concluded, if there are still more interested students than we have space available for, a random selection from all those who have attended the AIM meeting will be made. Since Moorpark College is a Public California Community College, we CANNOT base admission to the EATM Program on grades, experience, education or any other factor - everyone must have an equal opportunity to attend.  We have found that we can teach almost anyone how to work with animals... some of our most successful graduates had little or no education or animal experience prior to attending the EATM Program.   Therefore, we do a random selection from all qualified applicants, so everyone has an equal chance at admission.  Quite a number of students withdraw themselves from consideration, after learning the long hours necessary, or who may be unable to support themselves financially. By the time a final random selection is made, the chance of being admitted is usually 50-75%. Or even better!

We also create an "alternate list", in case any students who are admitted decide not to attend. During the random selection process you will be notified if you have been admitted, are on the alternate list, or have not been randomly selected for either. Alternates will be notified when and if a space becomes available. If you are not selected, you will need to reapply for subsequent years, if you are still interested. We recommend that you continue your college education no matter what.... work toward a higher college degree.
Having more education will only HELP..!!!

2020 - 2021 Estimated College Costs per year for the EATM Program      (California Residents & non-residents)

Item Estimated Cost
Moorpark College Registration Fees and Tuition  ($46 per unit) $1,500
Books and Supplies $2,000
Housing (Room and Board)
(Note - Students are responsible for their own housing.
The EATM Program and Moorpark College do not have on-campus housing.)
$7,000 to $9,000
(Biggest expense)
Transportation, Car Insurance, Gasoline, etc. $1,000+
Personal Expenses $2,000+
Total Expenses - California Residents (estimated - if renting a room) $13,000 to $16,000+


Non-California residents add $189 - $203 per unit for tuition


add $7,000+

Total non-resident expenses  (estimated) $20,000+

Note - You will benefit more from the EATM experience if you also have sufficient funds available for extra-curricular activities (field-trips, internships, etc.). Look into financial aid early, if you need it!!
Go online to apply for financial aid -

The costs above are only estimates...... students who live at home or with relatives will be able to budget considerably less.  Tuition may increase with little notice.

REMINDER - Moorpark College does not have dorms or any type of living arrangements for students. 
EATM students are responsible for finding their own housing (the EATM program will offer assistance - it is usually not difficult to find a place to live nearby).