Dortmund, 03 February 2020 - Those who want to study dual studies in Dortmund will be offered a special extra at the IUBH International University of Applied Sciences in the field of social work. Prof. Dr. Ingo Zimmermann teaches on campus together with his American screech owl Hugo. How did this extraordinary friendship come about? "After Hugo was hatched, his owl parents did not take care of their little protégé," Zimmermann explains. He rescued the neglected owl from imminent death and hand-raised the little peacock from its 10th day of life. In this way, the professor was able to develop a unique bond with the actually shy owl - so that Hugo even accompanies the professor during his lectures, quietly lingering on his shoulder.


Little Hugo and Prof. Dr. Zimmermann together in the lecture hall - this is how the students react


Hugo's company in the lecture hall seems to have a magical effect on the students, who are much more receptive and concentrated during the lecture: "An owl is not a normal pet that just wants to be stroked like a cat, for example. It is much more distant, so a different form of contact with the animal becomes necessary. As a professor, I try to establish a connection between the topics and the owl so that the students focus more on both. And that works very well," says Zimmermann.


The professor is a university-trained forest mindfulness trainer and, in addition to lectures, regularly leads excursions and therapeutic events in the context of forests with a focus on ecological forest development and animal conservation. His partner also owns an owl, a Siberian eagle owl, which is raised with love and great care, as is Hugo.


Animal-assisted interventions in education


Prof. Dr. Andrea Beetz, a psychologist specialising in human-animal relationships and animal-assisted interventions at the IUBH, also advocates the approach that animals can contribute valuable benefits in education and therapy: Numerous studies have shown that, for example, a dog taken into a class for educational purposes has very positive effects on the students, or that an office cat can have a stress-reducing and calming effect on colleagues".


Awards, accreditations and certifications

Staatlich Anerkannte Hochschule ZFU