Fur, Feathers and Scales – Explore!

In Fur, Feathers and Scales students will explore the different vertebrate families. Comparing and contrasting different objects from the natural world from tigers to penguins, students will use descriptive words to label and sort the animals into groups. When possible, students will also be introduced to a live animal in order to showcase how we can identify the animal as an example and how grouping animals helps us in the zoo.

Penguins at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Key Stage: KS1 (5-7 years old)

Duration: 30 – 45 min

Capacity: 35 students


National Curriculum links:

KS1 Science

Working scientifically

  • Identify and classify; Use simple features to compare

Animals, including humans

  • Identify and name common animals including a variety of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals;
  • Describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals;
  • Learn the names of body parts through games, actions, songs and rhymes

Living things and their habitats

  • Identify and name a variety of plants and animals in their habitats, including micro-habitats

KS1 English

Spoken Language; Reading – word reading; comprehension


Intended learning outcomes:

Pupils will be able to:

  • separate animals into categories using observations
  • Describe why animals are in different categories
  • Gain an understanding that animals can experience fear and we can help protect them

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 fantastic animals to explore fur, feathers and scales out in the zoo!


Link to session


Amur tiger

Stripes to sneak up on prey


Brown bear

Thick, brown fur to blend in


African penguin

Waterproof feathers – black and white to camouflage in the water

Right of Europe


Colourful feathers to attract females

Free roaming in the zoo

Grevy’s Zebra

Stripes to blend in to the herd – safety from predators



After your visit:

  • Create a class collage of an African savannah – use the colours that you have learned about on your zoo visit. Try to include:
    • Male lion looking out over the savannah
    • Lioness prowling in the high grasses near the zebra
    • Zebra eating grass in a herd
    • Hornbill flying over the savannah
    • High trees
    • Long green grass
    • Ripe colourful fruit
  • You can also create a story about the animals in the savannah – linking the colours of the animals to the role they play in the wild (predator, prey)


Prepare for your Fur, Feathers and Scales – Investigate! session with our worksheet:

PDF icon Pre-visit sheet - Fur, Feather, Scales Investigate (468.71 KB)