Classroom Resources

If you’re planning a field trip to a zoo, why not make it a really educational experience by having your students do some research and evaluation of the zoo? Have students select an animal species you will be viewing on the field trip, and answer the following questions based on that species. Scroll down to downloadable version.

Pre-Trip Research 

  1. Describe the habitat (terrain, vegetative cover, etc.) of the animals’ home territory.
  2. Describe the normal climate in the animals’ home territory. Include temperature range, precipitation amounts, and any other factors you consider important.
  3. How much range area does each animal typically require in its native environment?
  4. What are the socialization patterns of the animal? Is it solitary or does it live in family groups or herds?
  5. What do the animals eat in the wild?
  6. What is the typical life span of the animals in the wild?

On-Site Impressions 

General Impression

  1. Do the animals appear healthy and energetic?
  2. Are the staff willing to answer questions about the animals’ origin and care?
  3. Do the staff treat the animals with respect and affection?
  4. Are the facilities clean?
  5. Is clean water available at all times?

Animal Habitat

  1. Do the animals have sufficient room to exercise?
  2. Does the enclosure try to mimic the natural habitat from the particular animals’ native land?
  3. What provisions exist for protection from extreme weather conditions?
  4. Are there items in the enclosure for the animals to relieve their boredom?
  5. Are there private areas where the animals can get away from public view?
  6. Is there suitable shade and windbreaks?
  7. Are the animals in suitable groupings for their species?

Public Safety

  1. Is there adequate fencing with physical separation between the public and the animals?
  2. Are there signs warning of the dangers of interacting with the animals?
  3. If any interactions with animals were allowed, was there adequate supervision by trained staff?

Animal Care & Safety

  1. Are the animals given appropriate food for their species?
  2. Is clean water available at all times?
  3. Do any animals seem ill or have untended injuries?

Educational Value

  1. Are there signs to indicate species and habitat information?
  2. Is any information available to indicate how the animals arrived at the zoo?
  3. Were zoo staff knowledgeable and willing to answer questions?

Post-trip Summary

  1. Were the animals’ physical needs being met? Explain
  2. Were the animals’ psychological needs being met? How could you tell?
  3. Do you think the animals are better or worse off at the zoo than they would be in the wild? Explain your reasons.
  4. Was the experience of seeing the animal in the zoo any better or worse than reading about or watching videos of them?

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