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


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during the school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students


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.

Explore the specially-designed Ethics Trail 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, where you’ll meet Fur Seals, Sumatran Orang-utan and the Southern Corroboree Frog.

Students are encouraged to attend the Seal Presentation, Orang-utan Talk and the Corroboree Frog encounter where they will be able to ask staff questions.

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 Teacher Booklet below to guide learning and plan your day.

Students will learn:

  • The ethical considerations of keeping animals in captivity and the reasoning behind these decisions
  • How the 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
Activity Duration
Self-guided – Ethics Trail case study
1 hour for each
Explore the Zoo – visit animal exhibits, attend educational keeper talks  1 – 2 hours

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 3 – 10

Ethical Capability

Investigate the connections and distinctions between and the relative value of concepts including fairness and equality, and respect and tolerance (VCECU019)

  • Students visit the Zoo’s Sumatran Orangutans and consider concepts such as fairness, equality, respect and tolerance in relation to this species

Explore a range of ethical problems and examine the extent to which different positions are related to commonly held ethical concepts and principles, considering the influence of cultural norms, religion, world views and philosophical thought (VCECU020)

  • Students examine complex issues relating to the Sumatran Orangutan and evaluate arguments for and against the ‘fair’ treatment of past and present captive Orangutans

Discuss issues raised by thinking about consequences and duties, in approaches to decision-making and action, and arguments for and against these approaches (VCECD022)

  • Students consider Sumatran Orangutan survival in the wild, their threats and conservation status, as well as the complexity of Orangutans in captivity and arguments relating to this

Investigate how different factors involved in ethical decision-making can be managed by people and groups (VCECD023)

  • Students investigate the Sumatran Orangutan through multiple perspectives and formulate their own opinion on the treatment of this species

Plan your excursion 

Ethics and Conservation 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 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