Screen time to educate young minds: Top 10 zoo-themed learning activities for your kids

With our tamariki at home we thought we could offer you our favourite Auckland zoo-themed activities to do! From educational videos and activity books, to building a wētā hotel in your backyard, it’s time to mix up your day and bring the zoo to you!

1. Fanimals! You may have heard your kids toss around this obscure word – but it’s actually an incredible show to teach children (and big kids too!) about animal science. From nutrition, behaviour and animal physiology, to the conservation of New Zealand species, and how to care for and enrich animal lives. Get hooked on our Mini Zookeeper series for budding young zoologists, or visit Auckland Zoo with host Jess and learn about the science of care, and the value of zoos for their wild counterparts! 

Watch Auckland Zoo's entire Fanimals playlist on YouTube!


Mini zookeeper Paige takes a tour of our Vet Hospital!

In this Fanimals episode, mini zookeeper Paige meets our vet nurse Breeze who introduces her to a few of our zoo vet crew and the patients they’re looking after.

2. Enrichment, there’s that word again. What does it mean to enrich an animal’s life? It could be with food, making mealtime a bit more challenging. If an animal is really intelligent is could be teaching them a new skill. Another way could be encouraging an animal to use one of its super senses or amazing skills. 

Watch Ellie in Meerkat Mealtime as she shows us how and why it’s important to enrich our animals’ daily lives and our video with Odin below as we teach our seals to swim through a boat, because at the end of the day, it’s all a-boat enrichment - maybe you can come up with some new ways to enrich your pets at home! 


It’s All ‘A-Boat’ Enrichment for our New Zealand fur seals!

In a great example of reusing and repurposing, seal keeper Odin dreamt up a use for our old boat – giving it new life as an enriching addition for our fur seals home.

3. Want to get off the screen and put some new-found knowledge to the test? Did you know Auckland Zoo has an INCREDIBLE Kids Hub? We have activity books, art activities, quizzes, crosswords, and even jigsaws. Learn how to build weta hotels and nectar feeders for the ‘zoo’ in your backyard! 

Find out more here

4. Auckland Zoo’s YouTube Channel has literally hundreds of inspiring videos all about animals and the conservation work we do at the Zoo, in New Zealand and around the world. Recently we caught up with essential worker Dr. Ester Bunny over Easter so she could take us on an essential, not to be missed, zoological egg hunt! Here you can learn about the different types of eggs laid by many different species.


Dr Ester Bunny has a zoo-themed Easter Egg hunt for you!

We wanted to make sure Kiwi kids had an opportunity to partake in an egg hunt – so we have created a very special one your whole family can get involved in.

5. Maybe now is the time to sharpen up your knowledge on some of New Zealand’s native species – did you know Aotearoa’s native long fin eels spend the majority of their lives in our fresh water lakes and rivers, but when they’re ready to breed, they leave the fresh water and head out to sea, all the way to Tonga to be exact! Pick a native species to brush up your knowledge on – and don’t forget, for any students doing any biology or science projects, Auckland Zoo’s website and YouTube are a great place to start for an incredible wealth of animal/biology/science facts!

Start off by learning about our longfin eels below and then build on your knowledge in our New Zealand species playlist


Zoo Tales - Quirky and curious longfin eels

Learn all about New Zealand longfin eels from Ectotherm keeper Georgia, including the incredible journey they take when it's time to breed!

6. Green thumbs abound, perhaps you’ve been missing the botanical side of Auckland Zoo, and are wanting to learn about the kind of plants that we care for? Say aloe aloe to our regular horticulture blog, covering everything from lemon myrtle, to striking survivalists, to Aotearoa’s very own Christmas tree. A lot can be learnt from the abundance of stunning plants that call New Zealand home

Get started here.

7. Have you heard of the Māori pūrākau (legend) of Māui and Tīeke? Narrated by the incredibly talented Anika Moa comes the tale of how the tīeke came to have a reddish saddle of colour on its back. Beautifully animated, and wonderfully presented – this is one legend not to be missed! 


The pūrākau (legend) of Māui and Tīeke!

Watch this beautifully animated tale of how the tīeke came to have a saddle on it's back.

8. Has te reo always been on your list of languages to brush up on? Hōhepa, one of our fabulous Auckland Zoo educators is here to help! Journey around the zoo as we learn te reo – all with a zoo twist. From otters to playgrounds, to the night habitat, you’ll be a pro next time you visit the zoo. 

Watch our extensive list of māori word of the week videos here! Ka pai!

9. For those students a bit older, maybe you’re wanting to learn about a career in conservation? Auckland Zoo supports many conservation initiatives all over New Zealand, and around the world. Conservation comes in many shapes, sizes, colours, and even sounds. There is surveying, monitoring, veterinary work, tagging and counting, and physical rearing of young that may have had next to no chance of survival without intervention. Let alone zookeeping, a career that lets you contribute to conservation every day! An example of what it means to contribute to local ‘wild work’ can be found in this account of a small conservation grant we have funded for local seabird conservation. Keen to learn even more about our conservation work? Find out more in our Wild Work playlist

10. And last but definitely not least, our educators have been putting together curriculum-based engaging and enriching learning packs for every learner at every age.  Easy to use, and free to you. First up you can learn all about elephants and tuatara! But stay tuned because new themes are coming out twice weekly, every Monday and Wednesday!