In Zoo Ethics students find themselves sitting on a Zoo Ethics Board faced with a real-life dilemma. After an introduction to the purpose of the modern zoo and the different stakeholders and decision makers present, students are given a number of dilemmas and asked to put themselves in the shoes of these individuals to come up with a solution. Students discover the complexity around ethical decision making as well as how ethics can change with culture, time and perspective.

Age: Post 16 Duration: 50 minutes Capacity: 35 students  Indoor Workshop
Grevy's Zebra foal with mum at Whipsnade Zoo field

Intended learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • List the different areas of ZSL, the ZSL vision and purpose
  • Work in groups as an ethics committee to decide on a particular zoo related topic
  • List the different people involved in making ethical decisions at a zoo
  • Discuss the different perspectives involved in making decisions in a zoo

Online Teaching Resources:

AQA Biology A Level

3.4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
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  3.7.4 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.
Topic 5: On the Wild Side
  • 5.20 Understand the way in which scientific conclusions about controversial issues, such as what actions should be taken to reduce climate change or the degree to which humans are affecting climate change, can sometimes depend on who is reaching the conclusions.
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


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