Explore - What are the Qualities of a Good Zoo Environment?

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SWBAT take on the role of conservators of a few endangered species. They will research how to design a safe, appropriate habitat for their animal.

Big Idea

Understanding an animal's habitat requirements and ability to adjust to change is an essential part of designing temporary alternative environments for them.

Review: What Do Animals Need In Order to Survive?

15 minutes

At the start of today's lesson we first review the basics of what animals need to survive.  I have them work with a partner to write down the basic needs of animals.  I walk around and monitor their discussions and make note of any egregious misconceptions that need to be cleared up before we move forward.  They share out and I have a student record write up these basic needs on a chart paper:  food, water, shelter, air/appropriate climate is what my class agreed upon.  This gives them another focus point as they fill out their organizers.  All of this information should be included within the categories they research.  These are all the conditions that would need to be accurately replicated in order for animals to survive and thrive in captivity.  Again, the scenario they are working with is a case of last-resort:  if an endangered species absolutely had to be relocated from its native environment, would criteria would need to be met in order for this animal to do as well as possible in captivity?

How Can We Create a Habitat That Addresses These Needs?

45 minutes

Here is an example of a high-quality habitat designed for a injured black bear cub that could not be released back into the wild.  This video can be used to stimulate discussion about what can be found in a quality animal habitat.  


Students now work independently, with a partner, or in a small group to generate a list of more specific details about how to meet animal needs.  Here are the key ideas we came up with together as a class.  When a student veered off on a tangent, I recorded their response, but didn't include it on the chart paper.

  • Animals need to be in a habitat with a temperature that matches where they are from in the wild
  • Animals need to have shelter that is similar in how it feels to them as what they would have in the wild
  • Some animals are shy and will be scared, not eat, get sick they feel watched.  These animals need privacy.
  • Some animals are solitary.  They are rarely around others of their own kind.  They should not be forced into groups.
  • Some animals are social.  They suffer if they are not with others of their species.
  • Some animals are sometimes shy and sometimes social, so they need different things at different times.
  • Many animals need intellectual and emotional stimulation so that they don't develop behaviors in captivity that will hurt them.  Animals sometimes do things in captivity that they don't do in the wild.
  • Some animals have very large ranges and should not be in small cages.
  • Some animals need to move fast and need room.
  • Animals need appropriate food that simulates that which they obtain in their natural environment.
  • Animals need shelter from their environment and for an escape from zoo goers.