Discovering Galapagos at ZSL London Zoo

Blog, ZSL Tortoise ©Oli Scarff

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and education charity that manages two zoos in the UK (ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo) and has active conservation projects in over 50 countries. In 1837, a year after returning from his voyage on HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin became a fellow of ZSL and regularly visited ZSL London Zoo. To celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday, ZSL London Zoo opened up a brand new ‘Giants of the Galapagos’ enclosure in 2009. The exhibit mimics the tortoise’s natural habitat with watering holes and mud wallows to help them feel at home. It is currently home to five Galapagos giant tortoises; Dirk, Dolly, Dolores, Polly and Priscilla.

With these past and present links to the Galapagos, ZSL was the perfect collaborator for our newest range of teaching resources from the Discovering Galapagos team. Discovering Galapagos is not just a website, it is an educational programme which includes a range of teaching resources with downloadable lesson plans, worksheets and supporting material. We want our resources to be used alongside practical and engaging lessons to inspire the next generation of conservation ambassadors. This is why our collaboration with ZSL is so important as it gives students the opportunity to discover Galapagos and some of the unique wildlife for themselves while in the heart of London.

Blog, TortoiseTracker

GCT and ZSL have designed a range of exciting teaching resources for KS2 and KS3 teachers who are planning a class visit to ZSL London Zoo. Based around the Galapagos giant tortoises, the resources aim to teach students about how Galapagos giant tortoises have adapted to different environments, how conservationists and ZSL London Zoo staff are tracking tortoises both in captivity and the wild to learn more about their behaviour and needs, and why this is important for the conservation of Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural environment.

A teaching pack can be ordered in advanced by emailing gct@gct.org or they are available at the zoo to all visiting schools. The teaching pack includes a teacher’s activity planner, KS2 and KS3 specific worksheets, fact sheets about Galapagos, the tortoises and the tortoise conservation project, a poster and stickers. There are also three additional classroom-based lessons designed to be taught in school, either before or after a visit to London Zoo. We hope all these resources help to engage and inspire students to discover more about the amazing Galapagos Islands and their wildlife.

For more information and links to the lesson plans and resources visit the Teacher Zone on the Discovering Galapagos website. To learn more about the Discovering Galapagos project, join us at Re-Discovering Galapagos Day at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London next week; to book tickets and find out more information, click here.

by Lisa Wheeler