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What is the role of a contemporary zoo? Is it a business or a conservation centre? Is a zoo’s role to educate or entertain the public? Are zoos for the benefit of animals or people? If you are planning an excursion to a local zoo your students will have the opportunity to explore not only a range of animals but also the ethics and welfare implicit in keeping animals in zoos. A zoo is the perfect setting to illustrate to students how science and social issues interact. 

In this unit, students will have the opportunity to explore their understanding of the work of zoos before critically investigating the practices of zoos, both nationally and internationally. These lessons also include a factsheet that will allow your class to collaboratively plan their trip to the zoo, empowering students to lead their own learning during the excursion. 

You may choose to teach the lessons in this unit in the sequence shown below, as a double lesson that includes the Tuning In lesson followed by one of the finding out lessons, or as a single lesson in isolation. 

These lessons have 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.