Habitats & Adaptations (New for 2014/15)

In Habitats and Adaptations students will explore how animals are perfectly suited to living in their environments. Pupils will discover the differences between behavioural and physical adaptions and how these are passed on from generation to generation. The pupils will be introduced to the work ZSL is doing to protect habitats and hear about some of our fascinating stories from the wild. Pupils will be able to realise their role in the impact of humans on environments and take part in a special activity to get them engaged in protecting habitats in the wild.

A pygmy hippo at ZSL London Zoo

Key Stage:  Two (7-11 year olds)

Duration:  45 min

Capacity: 35 students



National Curriculum links:


KS2 Science

Working scientifically

  • Gather and record data to help answering questions; Grouping, sorting and classifying and use of simple keys

Animals, including humans

  • How adaptations evolve to allow animals to survive in the habitat

Living Things and their Habitats

  • Pupils should explore examples of human impact on environments. Find out about the work of naturalists and animal behaviourists.


KS2 English

Spoken Language; Reading – word reading; comprehension;

Writing – Transcription; vocabulary



Intended learning outcomes:

Pupils will be able to:

  • Describe, using appropriate language, how animal adaptations are suited to the environment that they are found.
  • Differentiate between behavioural and physical adaptations and how they are passed on to the next generation
  • Outline some of the positive and negative impact humans can have on habitats
  • Feel empowered that that they are part of positive action to protect animals in the wild

Many objects from the natural world 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. 



For this session


Before your visit:


While at the Zoo:

  • Visit these endangered animals at Whipsnade Zoo:


Link to session


Amur Tiger

Forest – habitat

Strong claws to drag food up trees - adaptation


Asian Elephant

Forest – habitat

Elephant (EDGE species) ZSL conservation in Thailand  http://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/asia/asian-elephant-conservation-in-thailand



Savannah – habitat

Speed agility – muscle movement of cheetahs.  http://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/africa/tanzania-carnivore-conservation


Pygmy hippos

Lakes and Forests - habitat

Pygmy hippos are part of our EDGE programme and have pioneered conservation in Liberia http://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/africa/pygmy-hippo-conservation



After your visit:

  • Create your own species! Research and collate the top ten most fascinating adaptations in the natural world. Now create your own animal to fit perfectly into the habitat of your choice.  Keep in mind:
    • How the animal will hunt/scavenge/graze for food
    • How the animal will evade predators
    • How the animal will camouflage in to the habitat
    • How will the animal reproduce – does it lay eggs or give birth to live young?