On Monday 25th April, Framlingham Lower Sixth Biologists visited Colchester Zoo. Whilst there students listened to a series of informative talks and took part in workshops on ‘The Roles of Zoos’, ‘Conservation’ and ‘Classification’.

During the talk on ‘What do zoos do, and why?’ students learnt the main goals of a modern zoo and considered their own opinions about zoos, while discovering how zoos play vital roles in conservation. They learnt about Colchester Zoo’s contributions to in-situ and ex-situ conservation.

After examining endangered species artefacts and learning about the threats they face students considered how zoos and other organisations help conservation and had to figure out why certain actions might not be enough. During the session on ‘Classification’ students learnt the different levels of the classification system with examples and characteristics given for the major invertebrate phyla. Students were given the chance to guess what characteristics define animals in the vertebrate phyla.

Using this knowledge, students examined real animal artefacts (skins, skulls, etc) and practiced classifying them based on their visual characteristics. After classifying the artefacts, students had the chance to examine them looking for individual variation, and guessing at the cause of the variation.

The workshop ended with a closer look at class mammalia, and the many orders within it. Then focused on the primate order, examining the various families. At the species level, students learnt about what makes a species a species, and related individual variation to features they noticed during their classification activity. A fun packed informative day enjoyed by all.

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