Zoo Ethics

In Zoo Ethics students find themselves sitting on a Zoo Ethics Board faced with a real-life dilemma. Discussing this situation from different points of view, students get a fantastic appreciation at the complexity around ethical decision making. Students discover the role ZSL plays in the modern world and how ethics can change with culture, time and perspective.


Age group:  KS4 and 5 (AS level)

Duration: 45 min                             

Capacity: 35

Learning Space: Griffin Room

Intended learning outcomes:

  • Students will be able to list the different areas of ZSL, our mission statement and goals
  • Students will work in groups as an ethics committee to decide on a particular zoo related topic
  • Students will be able to list the different people involved in making ethical decisions at a zoo
  • Students will be able to discuss the different perspectives involved in making decisions in a zoo


For this session:

  • Discuss a recent news topic with the students and allow them to debate from different perspectives
  • Investigate the role ethics plays in modern society – who decides what is right?


While at the Zoo:

  • At each enclosure, discuss in groups, the role that animal plays in the zoo (attraction for visitors, key endangered species, part of a breeding programme, UK endangered species, educational)
Animal Location (map ref.)
Ring-tailed lemur In with the Lemurs
European lynx Wild Wild Whipsnade
Sealion Sealion Splash
Bactrian camel Passage through Asia

Post-visit resources:

  • Set up your own virtual zoo – Students will have different roles, eg Keeping staff, curator, marketing, retail, vet, development (linking with funders), education, presenters, finance, gardening, building. Within these roles, students will have to research what animals they are going to have in the zoo and why (are they endangered, will they bring money in). Set a budget and introduce some ethical dilemmas such as breeding, movement of animals, training. This activity will bring together working in groups, social enterprise, social responsibility, career awareness.