In Adaptations students will discover some weird and wonderful adaptations as they investigate the physical and behavioural features that help animals thrive in their environment. Students will investigate real animal skins and artefacts, and observe a live animal to explore the range of adaptations in the animal kingdom and introduce the idea of evolution by natural selection.


The objects from the natural world that are used in this session are loaned to us by HM Revenue and Customs.

Please be aware that though we aim to use a live animal in this session, we do not guarantee that they will be present – animals can fall ill or be unwilling to be handled and their welfare is ZSL’s first priority. 


Age group:  Years 7, 8 and 9 (KS3, Ages 11–14)

Duration: 50 minutes

Capacity: 35 students

Learning Space: Griffin Room

National Curriculum links:

KS3 Science: 3.3 Organisms, behaviour and health

d. All living things show variation, can be classified and are interdependent, interacting with each other and their environment.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Students will be able to define an animal adaptation as a feature that allows the animal to survive in a given habitat
  • Students will be able to describe that some adaptations can be physical and some behavioural and be able to name 2 examples of each
  • Students will recognise that all species show variation, and that adaptations come about over time by the process of evolution by natural selection
  • Students will identify adaptations on real animal specimens and discuss how these help the animal to survive in its habitat


For this session

Before your visit:  

  • Discuss with students why certain animals do so well in their habitat – list physical attributes that allow them to thrive in their environment
  • Research the term “evolution”, “natural selection” and “Charles Darwin”


While at the Zoo:

  • Visit the Chimpanzees (map location ) and describe any similar physical attributes to humans.
  • Watch a species in the zoo and describe the how they move around their enclosure – what adaptations are you noticing for movement around their habitat. What enrichment does the zoo provide in the enclosure to enhance the use of natural behaviour.

After your visit:

  • Make the below table and get the students to fill it in:


Habitat Animal Adaptation Use