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HHS AP Biology students develop diet for cats at National Tiger Sanctuary

May 19, 2022

HHS AP Biology students develop diet for cats at National Tiger Sanctuary

Hillcrest High School AP Biology students got a big experience, learning with big cats.

This February, juniors and seniors in the advanced science class visited National Tiger Sanctuary. The nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates exotic and domestic animals, providing a permanent home for animals to thrive near Branson.

Students met with expert veterinarians and caretakers of four different species of big cats, learning about the nutritional needs of 34 different cats on the property. Plus, students were able to see the assortment of supplements needed to help cats maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.


Then, students returned to Hillcrest, researching a couple different cats in their classroom to complete a challenge: design a real meal for a real cat at the National Tiger Sanctuary, said Jennifer Bryant, biology teacher.

“Students used previous knowledge from class, information they learned on tour and outside research to design a balanced meal for the cats,” she said. “These meals had to take into consideration the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and supplemental vitamins. It was a big task, but our students then got to see their work in action.”

After weeks of in-depth research and consideration, students returned with their designed meals, submitting them to the caregivers at National Tiger Sanctuary for feedback. 

In May, they visited the cats again – this time, to watch the tigers being fed meals the students developed just for them.


“In advanced science classes, making the connection from these complicated concepts to the real world is essential,” said Ann Wallenmeyer, coordinator of science curriculum at SPS. “This was a way to make nutritional science and biology come alive, truly, in front of our students. We hope more AP Biology students can visit the National Tiger Sanctuary and have this learning experience in the future.”