Giraffe Behaviour Study (KS3/4)

In Giraffe Behaviour Study pupils will work scientifically to collect real data on our herd of giraffes. At Giraffe Heights, students will work in groups and come face to face with our herd of giants to collect behavioural data using ethograms. The students will then use this data to create behaviour bar charts and to compare behaviours between different age groups in the herd. Group discussions will then allow students to elaborate on how this data could be used for the conservation of the species in the wild.

Giraffes at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Key Stage: KS3 and KS4

Duration: 45 min

Capacity: 35 students

Location: Giraffe Heights

Please be aware that this session will be held outside. Students should wear appropriate clothing and footwear.


National Curriculum/Specification Links:


Working Scientifically:

  • Scientific attitudes;
  • Experimental skills and investigation;
  • Analysis and evaluation;
  • Measurement


  • Genetics and Evolution.


Edexcel GCSE Biology

Unit B3: Using Biology

Topic 2 - Behaviour

  • 2.3 Describe that some animals, in particular birds and mammals, have developed special behaviours for rearing their young.
  • 2.6 Describe the different behaviours exhibited by animals including:

                        (a) Innate behaviour;
                        (b) Imprinting;
                        (c) Habituation;
                        (d) Classical conditioning;
                        (e) Operant conditioning.

  • 2.9 Describe how some animal behaviour requires communication.
  • 2.10 Explain how animals use a variety of types of signals to communicate.

OCR GCSE Biology – Biology A

Module B3: Life on Earth.

  • B3.1.2 Understand that adaptations of living organisms to their environment increases the species chance of survival by making it more likely that individuals will survive to reproduce.
  • B3.1.3 Recall, and recognise when given relevant data, examples of how different organisms are adapted to their environment, and explain how the adaptations increase the chance of surviving to successfully reproduce.
  • B3.1.3 Understand that a change in the environment may cause a species to become extinct, for example, if: The environmental conditions change before its ability to adapt.

Module B6: Brain and Mind.

  • B6.4.2 Recall that mammals have a complex brain of billions of neurons that allows learning by experience, including social behaviour.

AQA GCSE Biology

B1.4 Interdependence and Adaptation

  • B1.4.1 Adaptations

To survive and reproduce, organisms require a supply of materials from their surroundings and from the other living organisms there.
f)    Animals and plants are adapted for survival in conditions where they normally live.
g)   Animals and plants may be adapted to cope with specific features of their environment e.g. thorns, poisons and warning colouration.

AQA Environmental Studies

  • B3.1.2 Wildlife Conservation

Conservation Methods.
Habitat Protection.


Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Collect, analyse and communicate a range of data gathered through fieldwork
  • Discuss the impact of human economic development on the landscape and on conservation of a species. 
  • Use scientific language to explain their results
  • Describe how research can impact the conservation of animals in the wild

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


For this session

Before your visit:

Plan a research project that is based on collecting behavioural data on Reticulated giraffes in East Africa. Consider the logistics of getting there including any vaccinations you may need and visas, what your camp needs to survive, safety of the camp and where you will get your food from. 

Further information on the conservation and IUCN status of Reticulated giraffe can be found here:

Download the PDF icon KS3 & 4 Giraffe Behaviour Study Observation Sheet (302.26 KB) to use to collect data at different animal enclosures.

While at the Zoo:

  • Spend time at each of the following enclosures noting down all behaviours that you see the animal exhibiting. Use the Ethogram to note down each behaviour, describe the behaviour and how long the animal was seen doing this behaviour.
  • Also collect data on:    
    • Range of animal
    • IUCN redlist status
    • Threats to animal
    • Information to construct ecosystem that the animal is found in


Link to session


Amur tiger

Mammal behaviour


African Penguin

Bird behaviour

Right of Europe

Sea lion

Sea mammal behaviour

Base camp

Ring tailed lemur

Mammal behaviour

Base camp

Whites Tree Frog

Amphibian behaviour

Discovery Centre


After your visit:

  • Compare the data for different animals – do all animals exhibit the same behaviours? Do different animals spend more or less time eating?
  • Collate the class information on all the giraffes that you collected in your session.
  • Create an activity budget pie chart for the time you watched the giraffes.  

Further Information

Further information on the conservation and IUCN status of Reticulated giraffe can be found here: