Year levels



$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during the school term)

What is a moral zoo? Can such a thing even exist? A philosophical challenge…

Program Description

VCE Philosophy students are invited to join our zoo-based educators in a robust discussion and debate about the ethical dilemmas and moral challenges of running a zoo. Is it ethical to have zoos in the 21st century?

What are the ethics of zoos in the 21st century? A Moral Zoo? challenges students to explore philosophical ideas within the context of the zoo.

This program is a unique opportunity for students to explore ethics and moral philosophy by questioning the ethics around animal welfare and keeping animals in captivity.

Students critically reflect on their own opinions and consider the perspective of others while delving into ethical decision-making, and exploring ideas, moral standpoints and modern views about captive animals. At our historic orangutan exhibit, students consider the history of the zoo through the eyes of the animals that lived here. Zoo teachers challenge students with questions touching on morality and moral choice, the justification for having animals in zoos and conflicting viewpoints.

A Moral Zoo? extends student thinking by noting current strategies for the promotion of health and welfare of orangutans, as well as the conservation efforts being made to save this species. Students are prompted to apply skills of reasoning to their arguments in order to develop a sophisticated and coherent worldview.

Students will learn:

  • Conceptual analysis
  • Strategic thinking
  • Insightful questioning
  • Carefully reasoned arguments
  • Critical reflection
Activity Duration
Workshop with Melbourne Zoo teacher – Is it ethical to have Zoos in the 21st century?
Workshop with Melbourne Zoo teacher – onsite workshop, discussing the historical and modern story of captive orangutans 45 minutes
Explore the Zoo – visit animal exhibits, attend educational keeper talks 1 – 2 hours

Learning outcomes

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) - Philosophy

Unit 2: Questions of value

Area study 1: Ethics and moral philosophy

  • Students should be able to analyse problems in ethics and moral theory and related contemporary debates, evaluate viewpoints and arguments in response to these problems, and discuss the interplay between philosophical thinking and contemporary ethical and moral debates

Area of study 3: Techniques of reasoning

  • Students should be able to apply methods of philosophical inquiry to the analysis of philosophical viewpoints and arguments, including those in value theory

Plan your excursion 

A Moral Zoo? is an outdoor all-weather program; the students will need appropriate clothing for weather conditions. Students will need a copy of the student workbook (download from below), clipboard and a pen.

School groups will enter via Rail Gate. The organising teacher must present their booking confirmation and purchase order form to Admission staff prior to students and remaining teachers entering the Zoo. More information

Book your excursion

Call (03) 9340 2788

You will need the following to book your excursion:

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