Group of four students scaning items at the Zoopermarket while on excursion. Sign on the left saying "I want the choice" which is in relation to palm oil labeling.

Ethics and Conservation (Self-Guided)

Year levels

Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, Year 6, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10


See Plan Your Visit


Monday to Friday (during school term)


Human Impact

Is it fair that animals are treated differently from people?

Program description

Melbourne Zoo has partnered with the Victorian Association for philosophy in Schools (VAPS) to develop a self-guided trail for teachers and students to explore.

As this is a self-guided tour, you’ll guide your students’ observations, discussions and learning at your own pace. You can determine the duration of the excursion, based on the time you have. As a rough guide, each case study takes approximately 1 hour to explore. Therefore, allow 3 hours if you wish to explore all 3 case studies. Use the Ethics Trail Teaching Guide below to guide on your day.

Students will learn:

  • About the ethical considerations of keeping animals in captivity and the reasoning behind these decisions
  • How Melbourne Zoo’s animals are cared for and treated
  • What is being done to save animals in the wild
  • Consider arguments and make observations on the ‘fair’ treatment of animals in this environment

Program sequence

Before your visit


Use the activities in the Teaching Guide (below) to spark student’s curiosity before their zoo visit. 

During your visit

Connect and Understand 

Explore the specially-designed Ethics Trail at Melbourne Zoo to understand the ethical principle ‘do no harm to others’. The trail and discussion prompts link to and support learning outcomes for Ethical Capability in the Victoria Curriculum from Levels 3 to 10.

There are up to three case studies to explore. You will meet Fur Seals, Sumatran Orang-utan and the Southern Corroboree Frog.

Your zoo visit will include: Following the Self-Guided Ethics Trail case study (1 hour), attending keeper talks (1-2 hours) and visiting animal habitats. Check out your Teaching Guide for other ideas of what to do at the zoo. 

After your visit


Use activities in the Teaching Guide to deepen students’ learning back at school. 


Use the Teaching Guide to enable students to master their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. 

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 3-10

Ethical Capability

The tasks set for each site of the trail, focus on the conceptual and analytical skills necessary for deliberating ethical issues at different levels of schooling. The concept of ‘fairness’ provides opportunities at these year levels for students to challenge others’ assumptions. Reasoning in argument is important to developing ethical capability so students can consider how their values contribute to an ethical issue.

Plan your excursion 

Ethics and Conservation (Self-Guided) is an outdoor all-weather program; the students will need appropriate clothing for weather conditions. This could include a raincoat, hat and sun protection.  

School groups will enter Melbourne Zoo via the Rail Gate entrance. Organising teachers please check in with our Admissions team upon arrival. More Information. 

All onsite excursion bookings are subject to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and as such are subject to change in line with the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s advice. We will be in contact with all teachers prior to their booked date if we need to clarify any new requirements. See the COVID-Safe information for schools before your visit.

Book your education experience

Fill out an online form to request a booking for your zoo education experience

Request booking now

You will need to know the following to book your zoo excursion or online workshop:

  • Education program of your choice (if applicable)
  • Preferred date
  • School name and address
  • Contact details of organising teacher
  • Number of students/classes and their year level