Book a FREE* activity for your students

Sessions are 45 minutes unless otherwise stated.
Sessions work best with 30 or fewer pupils, but unless otherwise stated, we can accommodate more if necessary.

Our sessions are limited in availability and very popular.
Please book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

If you have any questions about these sessions or wish to check availability on a specific date, please contact our education department directly at 01206 332511, 01206 332512 or 01206 331292 or email education@colchesterzoo.org

*Colchester Zoo reserves the right to charge a £20 fee educational sessions which are booked but not attended.


Available Post 16 Sessions:

Click on an education session for more details including curriculum links

For Animal Care Students, we offer specific education modules which cover zoo animal care in more depth. Click here for more details.


Detailed Session Descriptions:


Animal Behaviour Workshop

Psychology Focus

Please note this session is 90 minutes, and for a maximum of 20 students.
Students discover the basics of animal behaviour. As a starting point, students learn the difference between innate and learned behaviour. This leads into the theories of classical and operant condition and the different types of operant conditioning. Building on that, students discover how animal training is a form of operant conditioning.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

This workshop is designed for Psychology Students. If you have Animal Care students and are interested in behaviour and training of zoo animals, see our Animal Care Modules for a range of sessions which will better suit your needs (click here for more details).


Art at the Zoo

Please note this session is for a maximum of 30 students.
This session opens with a brief introduction to Colchester Zoo and how we use art. Then students have the opportunity to sketch, draw, or photograph from a variety of still life resources, including: furs, skins, skulls, feathers, and more. These resources allow students to get up close and pay attention to textures, patterns, shape, and structure. Students attending this session must bring their own dry drawing materials, sketchbooks, cameras, etc. Art materials will not be provided.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Classification Session

Updated and Revised 2019!

Please note this session is for a maximum of 40 students.
After discovering why and how we classify things, students learn the different levels of the classification system (domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species). Students will get a chance to get hands-on with a variety of animal biofacts (furs, skulls, etc.) and practice sorting these objects into groups. The session then takes a closer look at class mammalia, through to humans at a species level. At the species level, students learn about what makes a species a species.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Conservation Talk

What is conservation and why should we care about it? Students discover this while examining endangered species artefacts and learning about the threats they face. After learning about how zoos and other organisations help conservation, students figure out why that might not be enough. The problems of uneven distribution of wealth and food are discussed leading into the issue of different stakeholder demands. The example of palm oil plantations in the rainforest is used to illustrate that different stakeholders have different priorities, which is then tied back into conservation.

This talk focuses on the big picture problems facing conservation. If you would like a focus specifically on poaching and the illegal wildlife trade book the Wildlife Forensics Session. If you would like to focus on what zoos are doing to help, book the Zoos and Conservation Talk. If you would like to focus specifically on traditional medicine, book the Cures OR Conservation Session.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Cures OR Conservation Session

New 2019!

The Future and History of Animals in Traditional Medicine

Many human cultures around the world and throughout history have used and continue to use animals, and parts of animals, as medicine.  In this session students will learn about some amazing, scientifically proven medicines that have been based on chemicals and compounds found in a variety of animals.  We then discuss the conservation issues associated with this, explained through the problem of bear bile farms.

We will then take a look how animals have been used throughout the history of European Medicine. The use of animals in modern Traditional Medicine is then linked back to endangered species with this concept explored in more detail with the explanation of how rhino horn is not medicine. Students will then get the chance to see real animal artifacts up close and learn how they have traditionally been used as medical treatment. We will then discuss the step by step process that scientists and researchers use when they attempt to find out if something is medicine and how they would go about creating new drugs. The session ends with a look at medicines of the future, and what the future could hold for Traditional Medicine with reference to the World Health Organisation.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Enclosure Design Workshop

Please note this session is 90 minutes, and for a maximum of 40 students.
Students will learn all about creating appropriate enclosures for zoo animals.  Using examples from the zoo, pupils learn how enclosure design must meet the needs of the keepers, animals, and visitors. Using this knowledge, pupils critique a current enclosure at the zoo through first hand observation.  Then pupils have the chance to design their own enclosure and share their design with the group.

This workshop is aimed at Design and Technology students.  For Animal Care students we recommend our Enclosure Design Animal Care Module (click here for more details).

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Q & A Session

Please note this session is 45 minutes, and for a maximum of 50 students.
This session is a bookable timeslot for your students to ask Colchester Zoo staff questions.  Zoo staff are prepared to answer questions on a wide range of topics including how we use science at Colchester Zoo, how we meet the needs of our customers, health and safety concerns of a zoo, case study examples of our conservation projects around the world, or a focus on any other topic.

This session is ideal for students who are required to gather specific information for completing mock assessment, portfolios, workbooks, etc.

Students attending this session MUST come prepared with a list of questions to ask the speaker.


Teachers in Training

All About School Trips

Trainee teachers will learn all about planning an educational school trip, using Colchester Zoo as a point of reference. We cover the rationale for school trips, and how this can be used to increase student learning. We’ll then walk through the steps to plan a successful trip. This includes information about risk assessments, organising adult helpers, planning activities, and how to link trips to the national curriculum. The session includes a chance to look at the education department’s teaching resources (skulls, furs, etc.), as well as examples of some of the formal education sessions teachers can book.

There are two different versions of this sessions, one designed for future EYFS and Primary teachers and one designed for future Secondary teachers.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Wildlife Forensics Workshop

Please note this session is 90 minutes, and for a maximum of 40 students.
Students explore the issues of illegal wildlife crime, learning about the problems of hunting, poaching, pets, souvenirs, medicine, and bushmeat. While examining real, seized artefacts of the illegal wildlife trade, students learn how organisations are helping to stop these crimes by identifying criminals and identifying the animal victims. Some of the methods, such as finger print analysis and firearm analysis may be familiar, but students will also get to try feather identification, and skull identification as well as learning about DNA analysis for species and parentage. Students will leave with new science skills and an appreciation of the threat caused by wildlife crime.

This workshop focuses on the illegal wildlife trade including poaching. If you would like more of a focus on the big picture problems of conservation (local people needing jobs and money; world agriculture, etc.) book the Conservation Session.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Zoos & Conservation Talk

The Role of Zoos in the 21st Century

What do zoos do, and why?  Students learn the main goals of a modern zoo. Based on these goals, students can consider their own opinions about zoos while discovering how zoos play vital roles in conservation. Colchester Zoo’s contributions to in-situ and ex-situ conservation will be discussed using specific case studies.

This talk focuses on what role zoos play in the modern world, with a large focus on conservation action zoos are taking. If you would like to focus on the big picture problems causing conservation issues, please book the Conservation Session. If you would like a focus specifically on poaching and the illegal wildlife trade book the Wildlife Forensics Workshop.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

Zoo Visitor Psychology

Real world case studies of psychology in context

New 2019!

45 min session – focusing on Social & Environmental Psy OR Cognitive & Conservation Psy
90 min session -combined version covering all four topics.

Students will discover how psychology concepts are applied in practice at Colchester Zoo to help us meet our mission statement goals. These goals are: ‘Be a Great Visitor Attraction’ explored through Social and Environmental Psychology, ‘Help Visitors Learn About Animals’ explored through Cognitive Psychology, and ‘Help Endangered Animals’ explored through Conservation Psychology.
Various peer-reviewed, published studies are used as the basis for concepts and ideas explored throughout the session. The session also includes specific real-world examples from Colchester Zoo, and studies we have conducted on site.

Click for curriculum topics covered:

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