Make The Connection

November 27, 2018 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan students Serena George ’19 (left) and Abbi Turner ’20 complete an OWU Connection experience at the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe. (Photo courtesy of Abbi Turner)

Wildlife Orphanage

Ohio Wesleyan Students Travel to Zimbabwe to Aid Animals, Conduct Research

Name: Abbi Turner ’20

Major: Zoology

Minor: Black World Studies

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Conserving Natural Heritage: Zimbabwe Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteerism”

Turner and Serena George ’19 volunteered over the summer at the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe. At the orphanage, their OWU Connection experience included participating in wildlife rehabilitation, conducting human-carnivore research, and helping with conservation education programs.

My Favorite Moment

“My favorite moment was when we went on a rhino walk in the Matopos National Park. We were literally within five feet of wild rhinos with a very experienced guide. … It’s insane to me that possibly, in as little as 10 years, there could be no wild rhinos left, and I had a unique opportunity to be so close to them.

In addition to her experience in Zimbabwe, Abbi Turner ’20 also has traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of a marine biology course and spent a semester in Tanzania through the OWU in Tanzania program. (Photo courtesy of Abbi Turner)

Lessons Learned

“Experiences like this one are important because you get the chance to learn a lot and make a difference by being very hands on.

“We learned so much about why white and black rhinos are so critically endangered and what we can do to help reverse the damage that has been done to these wild rhino populations. …

“There is so much money, resources, and labor that go into running a rehabilitation center. Although the ultimate goal at Chipangali is to release rehabilitated animals successfully, this is very hard to accomplish for a multitude of reasons.

“From my experience, it seems Chipangali is very successful at other things such as educating the community about wildlife and conservation. ...

“Chipangali is also successful at, and plays an important role in, mitigating human-wildlife conflict among farmers and carnivores such as hyenas and leopards. This is important because, in a lot of cases, both farmers and carnivores are a threat to the other: carnivores threaten the farmers’ livelihood and farmers often kill carnivores out of retaliation.”

While at Ohio Wesleyan, Serena George ’19 also has researched herbicides and bird feathers, female sparrows singing in the wild, ticks and tick-borne diseases in Tanzania, fish mating behavior and speciation, and basilisk lizards in Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Abbi Turner)

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I actually chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan for The OWU Connection experiences and the Zoology Department.

“Because of OWU, I have traveled to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a marine biology Travel-Learning Course, spent a semester in Tanzania with the OWU in Tanzania program, and now have been to Zimbabwe volunteering with Wildlife.”

 My Plans after Graduation

“I am not sure what the plan is for after graduation. I have recently been looking into grad school so that might be where I am headed.”