In Role of the Modern Zoo students explore how zoos have changed over the last two centuries and what their place is in modern society.

Using ZSL's zoos as a case study, they will discover how zoos are working to protect wildlife all around the world and bring species back from the brink of extinction.

They will see how this purpose shapes the key activities that zoos engage in, including public engagement, scientific research, conservation breeding programmes and wildlife reintroductions, and will try their hand at a number of key decisions that are made within these areas. 

Age: Post 16 Duration: 55mins Capacity: 35 students Location: Indoors
Amur tiger cub with mum Naya at Whipsnade Zoo

Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Gain an understanding of how zoos work to conserve endangered species through scientific research; captive breeding programmes; reintroduction programmes and education
  • Identify different biological methods that zoos use to help conserve animals and their habitats
  • Explain why different species may be housed in zoos
  • Outline the different factors that need to be considered when running a breeding programme, including an animals family tree and its health history

Additional Resources:

Support your students' learning before, during and after thier visit with our Online Teaching Resources

AQA Biology A Level
3.4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms 3.4.4 Genetic diversity and adaptation
  • Genetic diversity as the number of different alleles of genes in a population.
  • Genetic diversity is a factor enabling natural selection to occur.
  • Natural selection results in species that are better adapted to their environment. These adaptations may be anatomical, physiological or behavioural.
3.4.6 Biodiversity within a community
  • Biodiversity can relate to a range of habitats, from a small local habitat to the Earth.
  • Farming techniques reduce biodiversity. The balance between conservation and farming.
3.7 Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems 3.7.2 Populations
  • Species exist as one or more populations.
  • A population as a group of organisms of the same species occupying a particular space at a particular time that can potentially interbreed.
  • The concepts of gene pool and allele frequency.
3.7.3 Evolution may lead to speciation
  • Individuals within a population of a species may show a wide range of variation in phenotype. This is due to genetic and environmental factors. The primary source of genetic variation is mutation.
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.
  • 4.16 Be able to evaluate the methods used by zoos and seed banks in the conservation of endangered species and their genetic diversity, including scientific research, captive breeding programmes, reintroduction programmes and education.
Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology B
Topic 3: Classification and Biodiversity 3.3 Biodiversity
  • ii) Understand the ethical and economic reasons (ecosystem services) for the maintenance of biodiversity
  • iii) Understand the principles of ex-situ (zoos and seed banks) and in-situ conservation (protected habitats), and the issues surrounding each method.
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.
  • iii) Understand the idea that sustainability of resources depends on effective management of the conflict between human needs and conservation, as illustrated by attempts to conserve fish stocks and reduce possible causes of climate change.
OCR A Level Biology A
Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease 4.2 Biodiversity 4.2.1 Biodiversity
  • (f) the factors affecting biodiversity
  • (g) the ecological, economic and aesthetic reasons for maintaining biodiversity
  • (h) in situ and ex situ methods of maintaining biodiversity


Module 6: Genetics, evolution and ecosystems 6.3 Ecosystems 6.3.2 Populations and sustainability
  • (e) the management of environmental resources and the effects of human activities.


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.

  • a) discuss the threats to the biodiversity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  • c) discuss methods of protecting endangered species, including the roles of zoos, botanic gardens, conserved areas (national parks and marine parks), ‘frozen zoos’ and seed banks
  • e) discuss the use of culling and contraceptive methods to prevent overpopulation of protected and non-protected species
  • g) discuss the roles of non-governmental organisations, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in local and global conservation