Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students investigate how and why zoos do conservation work. They begin by examining a series of positive and negative statements about zoos, including that zoos have an important role to play in conservation work. They then look at what is meant by ‘conservation’ and analyse the Philippines Crocodile conservation program in which Zoos Victoria are a conservation partner. Students then research an Australian animal involved in a conservation program and create a presentation to share with the class. Students can use an assessment rubric to assess the work of their peers.

This lesson has been developed in partnership with Zoos Victoria. Zoos Victoria is a zoo-based conservation organisation whose mission is to fight extinction and support Victorians to be the world’s most wildlife friendly community through being caring, informed and active. Zoos Victoria operate three zoos: Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. Click here to find out more about Zoos Victoria and their work on fighting extinction.


Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what conservation is and what a conservation program involves.
  • Students understand why we need conservation programs for animals both in Australia and overseas.

21st century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Science

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)

Year 6 Science

  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-10LW, ST3-11LW.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Ethical Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2, OI.7, OI.9.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science achievement standards: Students analyse how the form of living things enables them to function in their environments.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science achievement standards: Students describe and predict the effect of environmental changes on individual living things.

Topic: Biodiversity.

Unit of work: Fighting Extinction – Primary

Time required: 80 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – lead students in guided discussion, guide students through activities.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Art materials. One printed copy of the Learning Journal for each student (or invite students to access the Learning Journal used in the Tuning In lesson). Zoo StatementsConsequence Chart. Presentation Assessment Rubric.

Keywords: Zoos Victoria, zoo, fighting extinction, extinction, animals, conservation, breeding, education, improving habitats, Philippines Crocodile.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand what conservation is and what a conservation program involves.
  • Students understand why we need conservation programs for animals both in Australia and overseas.

Success criteria: Students can …

  • ... participate in class discussions.
  • ... work collaboratively.
  • ... conduct research.
  • ... create and present a presentation.
  • ... apply critical thinking skills.

Teacher content information: People have collected and displayed animals for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that these collections were transformed into zoos that were opened to the public. Initially zoos were designed as places of entertainment for people, and animals were kept in small cages and provided little or no stimulation. However, with an increased understanding of animal welfare and empathy towards animals, zoos began to shift their focus away from enclosures designed for maximum human enjoyment. Many zo

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: When did you last visit a zoo and why?

Activating Prior Knowledge

Work in groups to think about and discuss the following questions. Each student needs to then write their answers to these questions in their own words:

What do we already know about zoos?


What do we already know about animal welfare?


Who are zoos for – people or animals? Why?


What Are Zoos For?

You are now going to focus on the idea that many zoos have a vital role in protecting species through their conservation programs.

What is involved in a conservation program?

Breeding – This means finding out the life-cycle of the living thing you want to conserve and creating the conditions where the living thing can reproduce (have offspring). The aim of many breeding programs is to be able to introduce these animals back into the wild.This means ensuring the captive population of animal you are trying to conserve is healthy enough for you to release a

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