(Grades Pre-K to 12) Want to get the most out of your class’s self-guided visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park? Then this packet is for you. Self-guided activities offer grade-specific discussion prompts for chaperone-student groups while at the Park in addition to pre-visit and post-visit learning suggestions for the classroom. The materials also provide a teacher checklist for making reservations and preparing for your visit. A separate, easy-to-copy sheet lists chaperone guidelines that help keep your trip organized and your students focused.
Safari Park Resources & Activities
What do you think of when you hear the word safari? It’s a common English word now, but it’s borrowed from the Swahili word for “journey,” which originated from the Arabic safara, meaning “travel.” Today in Africa, a safari refers to any type of travel, but to Americans, it brings to mind exotic locations and fascinating wild animals. And that’s what you and your students will encounter when you visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
This guide suggests several safaris for grades K–8. Modify them to suit your students and your time constraints.
Elephant Odyssey Curriculum
The materials contained in this packet have all been specifically designed to prepare students for their visit to the San Diego Zoo's 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 new-found 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 Zoo's polar bear exhibit, one of the main goals is to inform visitors about the effects of climate change on the Arctic and polar bears. In order 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 Polar Bear Plunge. The curriculum is aligned with 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!
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 development practices, and increased public awareness, these lands can remain healthy and wild for generations to come.
Koala Pouch Pack
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 San Diego 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:
- Preschool & Kindergarten: Similarities and differences
- Grade 1: What do koalas need to survive?
- Grade 2: The koala life cycle
- Grade 3: Koala adaptations
- Grade 4: Where are koalas in the food chain?
- Grade 5: Investigation and Experimentation
- Grade 6–12: How would you design a koala exhibit?
- Glossary of Terms
- Teacher and Chaperone Checklist
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 our 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.
- Habitat Lesson
- Iguana Habitat Master Copy
- Threat Coverage 30%/70% Clip Art
- Threat Coverage 40%/60% Clip Art
- Threat Coverage 50%/50% Clip Art
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 non-native animals.
Buddies or Siblings? Determining Relatedness in Anegada Iguanas
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 the Zoo 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
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.
The existence of many species of butterflies is endangered because their living space—swamps or forests, for example—is being destroyed. Some kinds of butterflies only feed on 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.