Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist for the day!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a career as a zoologist? Do you love animals, the environment and science?
Then perhaps zoology is perfect for you. If you have not thought about it then you’ll get your first taste with the following exciting activities!
With this series of posts you’ll get the chance to step into an occupation for the entirety of your home learning day!
From zoologists, to park rangers, to veterinarians, to arctic scientists to wildlife tour guides to animal rescuers!
If you would like to see a particular homeschool occupation takeover post for a specific job, then just post a comment at the end of this post and I’ll see what I can do!
Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist!
What is a zoologist?
Zoologists study animal behaviour either in natural environments or human created environments such as zoos, aquariums, wildlife and safari parks.
Zoologists observe how animals interact with their environment and how animals get along with other members of the same species.
As well as the animals relationship with different species, including humans.
Including what foods are/are not consumed and animal hunting/foraging behaviour. How animals protect themselves against predators and other dangers. What diseases and parasites animals contract. Animal sleeping habitats, toilet behaviours and play behaviour. Also how animals look after their young. As well as animal genetics and evolution.
Many zoologists educate the public on endangered species and carry out conservation work.
Zoologists gather information about animals and use this data to write up scientific reports. Research can help people understand how best to assist animals to thrive within the environment they are living in.
Zoologists can help zoo animals live productive and more interesting lives by suggesting enriching activities and objects that stimulate natural behaviours.
Zoologists working in the field can have exciting careers as they travel to the animals natural location.
Animals live in every continent throughout the world including the dense jungles of Borneo, the searing savannah and the chilly Arctic circle!
Amazingly scientists have calculated that there are 86% of species on the earth that are still undiscovered!
You could become the next Charles Darwin travelling the world discovering new species! I can’t think of a more exciting adventurous career!
As a zoologist you generally specialize in a specific area of zoology.
Zoologists can specialize in birds (ornithology), insects (entomology), mammals (mammalogy), parasites (parasitologist), fossils (paleontology),reptiles (herpetology),marine mammals (marine mammalogy),and fish (ichthyology). Zoologists can also focus on animal environments or work as museum curators or have an academic career as a zoology professor.
Anatomy, physiology, genetics and evolution can also be zoology specialisms. Although zoologists can be more general and focus their research on a wide variety of species.
How do I become a zoologist?
To kick start a career in Zoology it’s recommended that you seek out lots of voluntary work with animals. Find out what age you can volunteer at wildlife parks,aquariums, city farms, stables, vets, animal rescue centres/homes, zoos,pet shops, conservation and wildlife charities. It will be an adventure full of exciting challenges! And you will be in an ideal position to learn everything you can to improve the lives of animals within captivity.
Some zoos, city farms and pet stores have holiday clubs/ training days/weeks/keeper experiences for young people which would be ideal experience and lots of fun. For example Edinburgh Zoo, (Scotland) has summer school opportunities for kids that fall into the age groups: Primary 2- Secondary year 4. Find out more here
In your spare time read lots of books about animals, watch animal documentaries and find out about well-known zoologists or environmentalists that have dedicated their lives to helping animals.
According to UCAS to begin a career as a zoologist within the UK, the academic qualifications needed to progress to university study are 5 GCSEs at grades A-C and 3 A-Levels, one of these being biology. At university a degree in either Zoology, Animal Behaviour, Animal Ecology, or Conservation is required for many zoology jobs.
For readers based in the USA, Environmental Science.org is a useful website for information on becoming a zoologist.
Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist!
What does a zoologist do in a typical day?
Observe animal behaviour including but not an exhaustive list: eating habits,toiletry habits, how they interact with family members/others of the same species/are they solitary or social, grooming habits,play behaviour, hunting/foraging for food behaviours,how they interact with man made structures and humans within their habitat, how they protect themselves/hunt, and sleeping and daytime habits.
Keep a record of observed behavioural and physical actions. As well as social interactions.
Collect samples of urine,poop, hair, saliva and possibly deceased animals for scientific study.
Observe sick animals to learn what diseases animals contract, how diseases are spread and what can be done to prevent the disease spreading. Some diseases can be transmitted to humans and scientists try to understand the disease and develop methods of control. The scientific term used to describe the ability for some animal diseases to be contracted by humans is ‘zoonoses’. However, it works the other way around too! Animals can contract human diseases and the scientific term for this is ‘anthroponosis’.
Attend meetings to discuss research findings and observations.
Give talks at animal conservation seminars, schools, universities and other public organisations.
Zoologist in a zoo/wildlife park/aquarium:
Observe the zoo animals for signs of stress, anxiety, depression, illness or boredom.
Observe all aspects of animal behaviour.
Design suitable enclosures and habitats.
Design play structures and toys to enrich the animals life.
Plan animal menus.
Educate the public with conservation talks and animal care.
Visit schools, universities and other public organisations to give workshops on conservation.
Manage the zoos conservation programmes.
Manage rehabilitation and reintroduction of wild animals back into their natural habitat.
Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist!
Itenary for Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist for the day!
(Note: If your like my son and prefer to take your time doing activities that are exciting, then this itenary can be completed over several days! Activities can be adapted for any ages. Give assistance to younger kids with research and expect more information and independent research from older kids and teens. Enjoy!)
I’ve prepared some zoology pdf charts. Print these out below:
Animal Classification Chart: ANIMALCLASSIFCATIONCHART
Animal Behaviour/Ethogram Chart: ANIMALBEHAVIOURCHART
Animal Lifestyle and Wellbeing Chart: ANIMALLIFESTYLEANDWELLBEINGCHART
My Animal Sleeping Habit Chart: ANIMALSLEEPINGHABITCHART
Animal Endangered Species Chart: ANIMALENDANGEREDSPECIESCHART
ZooHouse Menu: BREAKFAST
Animal Adoption Certificate: Certificate of Adoption
Watch the following zoology video on YouTube. Its an excellent introduction to Zoology.
Choose 3 animals for your zoological study. These could be your favorite animals or maybe an animal that you don’t know much about. Your chosen animals can range from a tiny insect,a bird,reptile, marine mammal, land mammal, crustacean, fish or even a dinosaur or other extinct animal.
Print out the ID badge pdf. Cut out and stick the paper ID onto a piece of card identical in size to your badge. Fill in your name and sketch a little self-portrait into the blank white box. Fill out the ‘animals I care for’ box. Attach a paper clip or safety pin to the back of the ID badge and clip it onto your top. This ensures your official and everyone knows your head zoologist for the day!
Source a clipboard if you have one. Otherwise use a paper clip or bulldog clip to keep your pdfs together. Print out the animal charts and attach onto your clipboard.Create your own zoo or natural habitat for your 3 animals. This could be lego habitat models, a minecraft zoo/landscapes such as polar region, jungle,African plains etc. Or use toy animals and create enclosures/natural habitats from any toys you may already have such as wooden bricks.
Furthermore, junk materials can be excellent material to create a diorama/shoebox biome. Alternatively draw or paint pictures of your animals in their homes.Or source some pictures of your animals from the internet, print them out and sketch a habitat scene and glue/blue-tack your animals onto your picture. Check out these links for inspiration: How to make a Shoebox biome and Forest and grassland diorama and Polar habitat diorama scroll down this link to view the awesome images for more ideas: Habitat Diorama projects
Fill out the animal classification charts and the animal lifestyle and wellbeing charts. Fill in one table for each of your animals.
Check up on the health of your animals in your zoo or natural habitat. Fill out the ‘Animal Endangered Species chart.’ Are any of your animals key stone species? Find out about key stone species here at National Geographic Animals cannot exist independently. All species survival, including our own, rely on other species in an interlocked web of life. If one species goes extinct this can have a huge impact on the food chain and threaten other species with extinction. Find out about food chains here at BBC Bitesze
Print a few ‘Adopt An animal’ certificates for your animals.
Encourage your family and friends to ‘adopt’ one or more of your 3 animals. Adoption fees could be as low as 10p a week. More than one person can adopt each animal. Save these fees up in a special adoption tin. When you have a reasonable amount say £5, donate it to the World Wildlife Fund The WWF will ensure it goes to help animals like your adopted species. Present the adopter with an adoption certificate and a sketched/painted portrait of your animal. Provide updates every few months on your animals health/endangered status in the wild.
Your animals need to play! Check your animals lifestyle and wellbeing chart to find out their play behaviours.Gather together household recycling junk, lego, scrap material etc. Design and construct some enriching toys designed with your animals specific behaviour needs.Think about balls,baths, food hidden in items, swinging toys, dragging toys, tree logs/sticks etc.
Alternatively sketch designs out on paper and label your designs with the materials you would use, and how your animals would interact with the toys. Check out these website which also have video clips, for inspiration :Animal enrichment and Nashville Zoo and Spotted Hyenas Animal enrichment If your animals are in their natural habitat how do they play?What natural objects do they use?Trees, rocks,seaweed, sticks,leaves,sliding down hills/snow,leaping,prancing,playing with others. Sketch a picture of your animal having an awesome time within their natural play area.
10. Some visitors to your zoo have complained about the lack of space within the enclosures your animals reside.
Design some improved enclosures taking into consideration your animals natural behaviours. Watch this video clip about designing chimpanzee enclosures and Read an article from Scientific American about the ‘new generation of zoos.’
11. If your animals live in the wild then often due to human activity their homes and lives can become threatened. Animals can be forced to look for somewhere else to live or attempt to cross busy dangerous roads. Human activity can include logging,deforestation and farming. Wild animals may try to eat farmed animals or crops which result in very angry farmers. Also hunting for sport and illegal poaching threaten endangered species.
The building of houses/shops/car parks/a new road, on land that is occupied by wildlife also causes problems for wild animals. Removing animals from the wild for the pet and zoo trade is also a big issue. Some councils advocate placing nets over hedges to prevent animals accessing the foliage which is a huge problem for wildlife who depend on the hedgerow ecosystem. The same applies to spikes on trees to prevent birds from pooping on nearby houses and cars.
Think about what you could do to help your animal. For example animal bridges to help them cross the road and more rangers to challenge poachers. Perhaps local people and the council can create new homes such as bird boxes/bat boxes/hedgehog hotels/wildlife corridors etc. Design a campaign to raise awareness to the public about your animals needs and what they can do to live in harmony alongside wildlife. Check out these sites for inspiration:Froglife and Hedgehog street and Create nature highways
12. As part of your freelance zoologist work you’ve been employed to provide some scientific observations of 3 different animals behaviour. As its extra zoology work, your required to observe the behaviour of 3 animals that are not your usual ones. Access the Animal Behavior/Ethogram chart and have fun observing lions, giraffes and gorillas! (the links to the videos won’t show up on printed copies so be sure to access the links through the digital pdf chart above) If you enjoy this activity then take it further by creating ethogram charts for your local wildlife or pets.
13. Its feeding time! Print out the menu.Design a menu for your 3 chosen animals.Think about what kind of teeth your animal has or maybe it doesn’t have teeth! Are you going to cook your food or will it be served raw? What kind of bowl/dish/container will you serve your meal up in or will it be thrown into the enclosure/hidden up trees etc? Will you be hand feeding your animal? Perhaps you’ll be giving a public demonstration of feeding time at your zoo? How much of the food do you estimate your animal will consume? A few grams or many kilos?
If your animals are in their natural environment have fun thinking up a menu that could be served within the wild if your animal visits your cafe! Does your animal enjoy slugs? Be inventive with your menu and create a delicious sounding plan such as Slug Soup with Slime Trail garnish! Followed by whipped worms and crunchy beatle sprinkles! Watch this video on YouTube showing Kangaroo feeding time at Australia’s Billabong Sanctuary and feeding time for this Orphaned baby river otter and the Elephant feeding in Kruger National Park
14. It’s Bedtime! Are your animals nocturnal,diurnal,crepuscular,matutinal,vespertine or cathemeral?For some animals their sleeping/day time habits may not be clear cut. Where do they sleep? On hay,grass,in a cave,hanging upside down, or inside an enclosure? Fill out the ‘My Animal Sleeping Chart’ and tuck your animals in for the night or day!
Watch this video on YouTube from SciShow about some unusual animal sleeping habits! If you find it difficult to sleep or would enjoy some relaxing music this Sounds of the Forest track on YouTube is perfect. Imagine your a forest animal snuggled down for a rest. This track is what animals listen to as they fall asleep: Animals in the forest
15. Now that your animals are sleeping or happily awake, it’s time to learn about conservation! So you can ensure your animals stay healthy and happy forever! Play some conservation games including bingo, word searches, quizzes and word scramble here Education zone and read stories, activity sheets, and games here at the World Wildlife Fund and watch some conservation video clips here at SandiegoZoo
Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist!
An extra activity to take your learning further:
Are zoos a problem?
A common argument is that zoos, wildlife and safari parks are beneficial to the overall survival of certain species that may be threatened within their natural environment. Many zoos do valuable conservation and research work. Some zoos rehabilitate animals for eventual release into the wild. Zoos can play an important role in raising awareness and educating the public on the plight of animals around the world.
Visiting zoos can lead to the public becoming more sympathetic towards animals and hopefully taking some sort of action that helps animals when they leave the zoo. Some people claim that animals in captivity lead better lives because they are fed, receive medical care when required, and are protected from predators. These benefits result in captive animals living longer lives. Check out this article from The Guardian about the positives of zoos.
However, others argue that zoo enclosures are too small for animals to be able to enjoy their natural behaviours. As a result animals are frequently sad and stressed. There has been many cases of captive animals displaying stereotypical stress behaviours that they would not normally do in the wild. Examples are swaying from side to side, pacing their enclosures,and repeatedly licking their paws which can lead to hair loss and sore skin. Not all zoos do conservation work or educate the public.
Some zoos actively remove wild animals from their natural environment to increase their zoo collection. There have been cases where animals welfare has been neglected. There is not a universal law or code of conduct that all zoos follow. So enforcing welfare requirements worldwide can be almost impossible. For more information for the argument against zoos check this site out at Born Free
Excellent films and documentaries to compliment your homeschool Occupation Takeover Day! Junior Zoologist!
Gorillas in the mist (1988):
A heartwarming true story of Anthropologist Diane Fossey who lived alongside and studied Mountain Gorillas in the wild. Fossey became the Gorillas protector against the poachers who hunted and captured the Gorillas for zoos. Watch the trailer here on YouTube This film is not available on Amazon prime tv or UK netflix. You can purchase it on Amazon or even better ask your library if they have a copy. Perhaps you can find it on your TV listings?
Born Free (1966)
One of my favourite films from childhood!Based on a true story about Joy and George Adamson who raise an orphaned lion cub called Elsa. Joy and George work tirelessly to be able to rehabilitate Elsa back into the wild. The book is brilliant also. This film is not available without purchasing on Amazon prime. Neither is it available on Netflix UK. Ask at your local library for a copy or check your TV listings as its often re-aired. Watch the trailer here on YouTube
Living Free (1972):
The sequel to Born Free. Joy and George go back to Kenya to check up on Elsa. Unfortunately Elsa dies and leaves behind three cubs. Joy and George take it upon themselves to look after the cubs, with the goal of training the cubs to be able to look after themselves.With the aim of the cubs being released back into the wild. You can watch this film with an Amazon prime video subscription. If you don’t have a subscription then you can sign up to the 30 days free trial then delete if you are not keeping it or ask at your local library for a copy. Check out the film here: Amazon Prime Video
This is a lovely film that my family all really enjoyed. We’ve viewed it several times over the years! I challenge you not to cry!A young boy adopts an orphaned cheetah cub he finds in the wild. They quickly become firm friends.The cheetah grows up and is not suited to domesticated life especially as the boys family has to move to the city.So the boy has to try and release Duma into the wild. You can rent this movie on Amazon Prime or ask your local library for a copy. Watch the trailer here on YouTube
An amazing documentary about the bond between Valentin and the lion Sirga, that he recused as a cub. Sirga lives in captivity within the wildlife project Valentin manages. However Sirga is no ordinary captive lion as she is frequently taken out into the wilderness and allowed to roam and hunt. You can watch this series on Netflix UK. If you don’t have a subscription you can sign up to the free trial and then delete it before the trial ends, if you don’t want to keep it!
Zoo Juniors (2011) Complete 7 seasons
This series features baby animals and their upbringing in Berlin Zoo and Berlin’s Tierpark Wildlife park. Find the complete 7 seasons onZoo Juniors Amazon Prime Video
Homeschool Occupation Takeover! Junior Zoologist!
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