Year levels



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Monday to Friday (during school term)

Analyse, compare and contrast living primates to reveal humans’ closest living and extinct relatives, evolutionary trends and what it means to be classified as Homo sapiens.

Program description

VCE Biology Unit 4

In this program, your students will uncover human’s closest living and extinct relatives through collection of observational data and analysis of fossils, anatomy and DNA. They will explore some of the evolutionary trends in primates and will have hands-on experience with primate biofacts to identify and analyse adaptations, and consider the phylogeny of species. DNA sequence comparisons will be utilised to further analyse species relatedness and draw phylogenetic trees. Your students will also gather some evidence of primate evolution through behavioural observations and comparing and contrasting a range of primates.

Students will learn: 

  • The anatomical and behavioural characteristics that define mammals, primates, hominoids and hominins
  • The processes that underpin speciation of primates
  • Construction and use of phylogenetic trees as evidence for the relatedness between species
  • How to collect and analyse behavioural observation data

Can’t make it to one of our zoos? Our Digital Program gives you direct access to your own expert Zoo Teacher and unique zoo content. Location is no longer a barrier.

Program sequence

Before your visit


Use the activities in the Teaching Guide (below) to inform and prepare students before their zoo visit. 

During your visit

Connect and Understand 

Students will draw on their analysis of anatomical, molecular and behavioural evidence, in combination with their understanding of evolutionary processes. They will explore some evolutionary trends, describe the relatedness of species and build a phylogenetic tree to model aspects of primate evolution.

Your zoo visit will include: Zoo Teacher Workshop (80 minutes) and Keeper talks. 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. 

Program maps 

Your booking confirmation email will list your group's education workshop time/s. Digital maps will be provided to you on the day.

Program resources

VCE teaching guides are password protected. You will receive the password via email before your excursion. You can also request the password upon booking.

Learning outcomes

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) – Biology

Unit 4: How does life change and respond to challenges?

Area of Study 2: How are species related over time?

  • Students will use comparative anatomy, behaviour observations and DNA of living and once living primates to explore changes in the genetic make-up of a population, changes in biodiversity over time, determine relatedness between species and their change over time

Plan your excursion 

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

Bring what students need to record their research e.g. notes, drawings, photographs, videos, voice memos, diagrams.  

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

Book your education experience

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

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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