Adaptations & Evolution

In our Adaptations & Evolution session, students will discover how different animal species have become adapted to different habitats over a long period of time. Through a hands on activity they will explore the adaptations of a range of species in depth and will be introduced to how this has happened through the process of natural selection. They will encounter a ZSL project that provides a real life example of how animals are responding to changes in their environment, and explore why evolution might not be occuring. 

Giraffes at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Key Stage: KS3

Duration: 45 minutes

Capacity: 35 students


National Curriculum Links:            

KS3 Science

Working scientifically 

  • Ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience

Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes

  • Heredity as the process by which genetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next

  • Differences between species

  • The variation between species and between individuals of the same species meaning some organisms compete more successfully, which can drive natural selection

  • Changes in the environment which may leave individuals within a species, and some entire species, less well adapted to compete successfully and reproduce, which in turn may lead to extinction


Intended Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between an anatomical and a behavioural adaptation.

  • Recognise that successful variations in animal species are passed on to offspring through the process of natural selection

  • Describe why animals are unable to adapt to rapid changes in the environment, such as that posed by climate change

  • Discuss how human behaviour impacts on animal species

Real objects from the natural world used in this session are on loan from HM Revenue and Customs


For this session

Before your visit:

  • Recap the terms “Adaptations”, “Habitats” and “Evolution”.

While at the Zoo:

  • Visit the following fantastic animals at Whipsnade Zoo that link to the content of this session:


Link to session

Location in the zoo


Breeding programmes


African Penguins

Genetic Analysis project

Right of Europe


Natural Selection


After you visit:

  • Identify an animal that you saw at the zoo and describe how it is well adapted to the habitat it would live in in the wild.
  • Create a detailed plan for saving energy at school and at home to limit the impact of climate change on endangered animals.


Prepare for your Adapatations & Evolution Session with our information pack:

PDF icon Pre-visit sheet - Zoo Genetics (KS3) (437.19 KB)