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Curriculum

Healthy People, Healthy Planet

(Grades 3–5)
The goal of our Healthy Planet, Healthy People program is to have students make simple changes in their daily actions through empowerment, education, and wellness. These changes will help provide a healthier lifestyle while conserving our natural resources and sustaining the quality of life for future generations. Our participants will develop a sense of ownership for conservation problems, inspire positive action, and achieve new levels of environmental literacy. Most importantly, our participants will learn to make healthy choices for themselves and for the planet.


Australian Outback Curriculum


The Conrad Prebys Australian Outback allows you and your students to explore the unique animals and diverse habitats found on the continent of Australia. Here you’ll watch kookaburras, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils, along with seeing the largest breeding colony of koalas outside Australia.

The activities in this book take you and your students on an excursion through Australia. There are two activities per grade level: one at an introductory level and another at a content-application level.

Use this guide independently, or bring your students to the Zoo to say “G’day” to animals found in the “Land Down Under.”


Panda Trek Curriculum

In the wild, we find giant pandas in the mountains of China. They live in damp, misty forests of bamboo and old-growth conifers. They share habitat with other animals, such as shaggy takins, elusive Mang Mountain pit vipers, and shy red pandas. At Panda Trek you can meet them all, plus you’ll learn about panda research and conservation.

This guide follows the adventures of panda researcher Dr. Ron Swaisgood. (Find out more about Dr. Swaisgood on page 2.) You’ll find grade-specific activities for grades K-8, and you can easily modify most of the activities up or down to suit the grade level and needs of your students.

We hope you and your students will “trek” to the San Diego Zoo to see giant pandas and other wildlife!


Elephant Odyssey Curriculum

The materials contained in this packet have all been specifically designed to prepare students for their visit to the Harry & Grace Steel Elephant Odyssey. Everything we do is aligned to California State Science Standards. We support your classroom studies in all curriculum areas: science, language arts, social studies, and math.

If you plan your own tour of the Zoo, use the free self-guided materials we provide when you make your reservation to ensure the optimal experience. It is our hope that you and your students will come away from your visit with a newfound understanding of the unique creatures that once called Southern California home and of their descendants, now found all over the world.


Polar Bears & Me

At the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, one of the main goals is to inform visitors about the effects of climate change on the Arctic and polar bears. To take steps to help the bears and other Arctic wildlife, it is important for people to understand how polar bears live, their connection to their environment, the severity of the problems they are facing in the wild, and what we can all do to make a difference.

This packet contains materials designed to prepare students for their visit to the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit. The curriculum is aligned with the California State Science Standards, and it provides hands-on activities and challenges for various grade levels to develop an understanding of polar bears, their habitat, and the threats they face.


Conserving San Diego’s Habitats!

(Grades 6–12)
San Diego’s diverse wild lands are a rich tapestry of life woven from many different habitats. You can move from one of the richest coastlines in the world, through mountains and ancient forests, to rugged desert wilderness in just one day. San Diego County has more threatened and endangered species than any other county in the continental U.S. But, San Diego still has hundreds of miles of healthy, thriving wild lands, too. Through conservation planning, wise develop- ment practices, and increased public awareness, these lands can remain healthy and wild for generations to come.


Koala Pouch Pack

(Grades Preschool–12)
Meet the koala. For centuries these little, sleepy, fuzzy, gray marsupials have intrigued children worldwide. Today, very real threats face the iconic eucalyptus forest denizen. Discover the secrets of the koala! The koala curriculum is an interdisciplinary learning resource that allows pre-school through high school students an opportunity to engage in hands-on, koala-centric activities. This curriculum is in line with National Science Content Standards and provides authentic learning experiences in the classroom as well as at the Zoo. Students gain a greater understanding of the renowned Australian koala, as well as a deeper appreciation for the wildlife in their own backyards. Download the appropriate field trip and classroom activities PDF:


Andros Iguana

(Grades 5–7)
The Andros iguana Cyclura cychlura cychlura is the largest native land animal on Andros Island, Bahamas. Like many of its Caribbean rock iguana kin, this large lizard is endangered. The iguanas’ primary threats are cats that eat juveniles, dogs that kill adults, and hogs that destroy the termite mounds that the females use as their nest. This education kit is designed to help students understand more about this endangered rock iguana’s situation and what we can do about it.

Where Have All the Iguanas Gone?
This activity helps students understand that native iguanas survive in just 40 percent of their original habitat.

Iguana Bead Tagging
Students mimic scientists by using bead tags to help them identify individual iguanas for research over time.

Make a Sign, Save an Iguana
Protecting iguanas from cats, dogs, pigs, and humans is a big job. This activity has students use their creativity to make signs that will work to educate people about the importance of protecting iguanas from humans and nonnative animals.


Buddies or Siblings? Determining Relatedness in Anegada Iguanas

(Grades 9–12)
When six confiscated Anegada iguanas were given to the San Diego Zoo by authorities, it was a mixed blessing. On one hand, they were the only representatives of the critically endangered species outside of the British Virgin Islands. And if keepers at the Zoo could get them to breed, the iguanas would become the founders of a captive population, serving to safeguard against the loss of the few hundred individuals left on the Caribbean island of Anegada. But first we had to know if and how these iguanas were related.

To get to the bottom of this mystery, scientists knew they would have to compare the genes of the six iguanas to those of the wild population. Like most animals, including humans, iguanas have two microsatellites at each locus, or point, where a microsatellite occurs: one microsatellite from each parent. This lesson helps introduce students to methods for examining microsatellites to determine relatedness.

Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Eco-pressure: Conserve Biodiversity of Wildlife

(Grades 6–9)
Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the term for the number of kinds of life forms and their interactions. As the definition points out, biodiversity can be measured at different scales from the number of genes in an individual to the number of species in an ecosystem to the number of ecosystems in an area. This lesson helps students explore what biodiversity is, why it’s important, and how to protect it.

Funding provided by the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation and the Samuel I. and John Henry Fox Foundation.


Butterflies and Conservation

(Ages 7–12)
The existence of many butterfly species is endangered because their living space—swamps or forests, for example—is being destroyed. Some kinds of butterflies feed on only one particular species of plant. If this plant disappears, the butterfly disappears, too. This is an after-school curriculum for ecology-based groups to explore butterflies and their role in conservation.

Questions? For Education programs for children, adults and families, or any school related programs, please call Zoo Education: 619-557-3962
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