In Animal Behaviour – chimpanzee case study, students will explore the reasons why we consider certain animals “intelligent” or “not intelligent”, and the theories surrounding how animals learn. They will discover how ZSL uses the science of learning behaviours to benefit animal welfare at the zoo and will carry out a behaviour study of a member of our chimp troop to understand how this information is useful both to our keepers and those working on the conservation of animals out in the field.  

Please note, this workshop takes place outside. Please ensure students wear appropriate clothing and footwear. 

Age: Post 16Duration: 50minsCapacity: 35 studentsOutdoor workshop
Phil the Chimp solving a puzzle at Whipsnade Zoo

Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Collect behavioural data
  • Give examples of different species' learning ability
  • Demonstrate the different behaviours that can be assessed using an ethogram
  • Discuss how ZSL uses operant conditioning to benefit the welfare of the chimpanzees at the Zoo
  • Demonstrate how we use the data collected into applying changes in the Zoo

Additional resources

Edexcel Psychology AS/A2
Topic 4: Learning Theory
  • 4.1.1 The main features of classical conditioning, including: unconditioned stimulus (UCS); unconditioned response (UCR); conditioned stimulus (CS); neutral stimulus (NS); conditioned response (CR)
  • 4.1.3 The main features of operant conditioning, including: types of reinforcement and punishment (positive and negative).
AQA Psychology AS/A2
3.2.1 Approaches in psychology
  • Learning approaches: the behaviourist approach, including classical conditioning and Pavlov’s research, operant conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research
AQA Biology A Level

3.7 Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

3.7.4 Populations in ecosystems

Students should be able to:

  • Show understanding of the need to manage the conflict between human needs and conservation in order to maintain the sustainability of natural resources
  • Evaluate evidence and data concerning issues relating to the conservation of species and habitats and consider conflicting evidence
Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology A (Salters-Nuffield)

Topic 4: Biodiversity and Natural Resources

4.1 Know that over time the variety of life has become extensive but is now being threatened by human activity.

Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology B

Topic 10: Ecosystems

10.4 Human effects on ecosystems

i) Understand data relating to human influences on ecosystems, including climate change and depletion of biological resources, including overfishing.

OCR A Level Biology A

Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease

4.2 Biodiversity

4.2.1 Biodiversity

(f) the factors affecting biodiversity


OCR A Level Biology B

Module 4: Energy, reproduction and populations

4.3 Photosynthesis, food production and populations

4.3.2 The impact of population increase

(b) the impact of the rise in human population on ecosystems and biodiversity


Cambridge International AS & A Level Biology

18 Biodiversity, classification and conservation

18.3 Conservation Maintaining biodiversity is important for many reasons. Actions to maintain biodiversity must be taken at local, national and global levels. It is important to conserve ecosystems as well as individual species.

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  • Education