Eric Hoffmaster

ForHoffmaster.web Eric Hoffmaster, every day is full of monkey business. A 2013 Frostburg University graduate, Eric's Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, and minors in business administration and animal behavior is leading him towards a career that will benefit animal conservation and welfare.

Eric's journey to date includes an internship at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. working at the mammal house, where he interacted with more than 40 different species of animals. He worked on animal "enrichment," using techniques that help the animals continue their natural behavior while in captivity, which promotes self-sufficiency and good psychological well-being.
He has had two experiences at Alouatta Sanctuary in Panama's Chiriqui Province, first as an intern, and the second as a manager. At Alouatta, he worked with howler monkeys, Geoffroy's tamarins, and white-faced capuchins. "When I was an intern at Alouatta, I helped raise the infant monkeys, and when I returned this past summer, I oversaw them returning to the wild. That was really cool," said Eric.
One of Eric's most memorable experiences at Alouatta was Stevie, a baby howler monkey. Stevie's mother suffered electrocution from encountering wires, and the shock also went through Stevie and caused her to fall, breaking her leg. Sadly, the shock also caused Stevie to become blind. Eric worked with Stevie to rehabilitate her, and she has overcome much of the trauma. She is undergoing neuron stimulation in the hopes that some of her eyesight will return. Most likely, Stevie will live at the Sanctuary and act as a surrogate mother to other baby monkeys, teaching them to climb trees, forage, and more.
Eric is currently pursuing a graduate degree in experimental psychology, with emphasis in animal behavior, at Oakland University, near Detroit, Michigan. While his specific career is undetermined, his internships solidified his passion for working with animals. He's interested in using research to benefit animal conservation and welfare, focusing on improving rehabilitation for primates. "Currently there are no set standards for primate rehabilitation," said Eric. "Every facility is doing it differently, so research in this area that will help set standards is a benefit."
Eric received three scholarships that helped him complete his undergraduate degree at Frostburg University. The first was from The Rev. Dr. Rodney B. Pulliam and Rodney II, Jordan, and Matthew Pulliam Memorial Fund, and two were from The Marvin G. Todd Memorial Scholarship Fund. "My parents were paying for my brother to attend college as well," said Eric. "The scholarships helped me stay in school, participate in research projects, and move on to the next step. It was a big part of being able to graduate."
His advice for graduating high school seniors? "Start getting involved with your program as soon as you can. Talk to professors and ask about research opportunities, even as a freshman. The sooner you can get involved, the better, as it allows you to pack more into your resume, and that helps you secure a job after graduation or go on to graduate school."

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