All About Animals: Primary Teachers: Lesson Plan 3: Let’s Debate!

How does this fit into the Framework? Children should be taught to contribute to a simple debate and listen to the views of others; they should be taught to discuss, write about and explain their views on issues that affect themselves and society.

Teachers’ Note: These are subjects for whole-class debate. You will need to explain the etiquette of contributing and that shouting is not allowed! Read the introduction to each subject to the class. Pointers for the discussion are given should the debate dry up or get stuck in a rut. All three subjects are suitable for the older Key Stage 2 children, but the second debate is possibly not suitable for younger children.

Lesson Plan: Let’s Debate!

After the debate, you can set a written component. Ask the class to pick one subject each and research it more fully. Then ask pupils to write an essay explaining both points of view before expressing their own views on the subject.

Subject 1: Animals in Zoos

Some people think that zoos are OK and that there is nothing wrong with them. They say that animals are safe in zoos. They say that they are fed regularly and always have water and that in the wild they would have to look after themselves. They also say that they have vets at zoos so the animals can be treated immediately if they become ill. They say that zoos are a fun place to go for all the family and that children learn about animals by seeing them in zoos. They agree that while some zoos are awful, most look after the animals well, and that while animals in the wild can become endangered or even extinct, animals in zoos can be well looked after.

Other people think that animals belong in the wild, not locked in cages or kept in enclosures for people to stare at. They say that animals are not put on Earth for our entertainment. They say that there is no excuse for taking animals away from their natural environment, feeding them unnatural food, keeping them in the wrong kinds of groups and charging people to come and gawp at them. They say that animals in zoos often go crazy and can be seen pacing up and down, rocking back and forth and licking the bars continuously – which are all signs of distress. Many zoos around the world keep animals in tiny concrete pens where they can hardly move. They say this is not right and animals deserve their freedom.

What do you think?


  • How do you feel about animals being taken from the wild and put in zoos?
  • Do you think that animals would rather live a life of freedom and have to fend for themselves or live in captivity and never have to worry about finding food and water?
  • Would you rather live in captivity and be well-fed or free and have to take care of yourself?
  • Do you think it is possible to learn how animals behave in the wild by watching them in captivity?
  • If lots of animals in zoos go crazy and become very distressed, should we continue to keep animals in zoos?

Subject 2: Fur or Fashion?

Many animals are killed and skinned because people want to wear their fur. Some animals are kept in cages – this is called fur farming – and others are trapped in the wild.

Farmed animals like mink and rabbits are generally kept in small cages where they can barely move around. They stay there all their lives. Some animals go crazy inside the cages and others become severely distressed. Fur farming has been banned in Britain because of the cruelty involved.

Animals who are trapped – such as foxes – may be caught in the trap for days before the hunter comes to shoot him or her. Some animals are so terrified that they even chew off their own leg in order to escape.

People who create clothing, bags and other items using animal fur say that it is our right to choose what we want to wear. They say that people have worn fur for hundreds of years and ask why we should stop now.

What do you think?


  • Is it OK to cause pain and suffering to animals for the sake of fashion?
  • If we think that it is wrong to wear fur, how do we feel about wearing leather?
  • If animals are farmed and killed for their fur, is it any different to farming them and killing them for their flesh (meat)?
  • Are you more upset by cat and dog fur products than mink and fox fur products or are they the same? If you are more upset by cat and dog fur, why do you think that is?

Subject 3: Pest or privilege?

We have shared our planet with animals for hundreds of thousands of years. Like us, they make their homes, raise offspring, find food and form relationships. Like us, they feel pain and have emotions.

Some people don’t want to see animals in their garden – they say that they are a pest – but other people feel very privileged that animals live there and are pleased to see them.

Example 1: If a squirrel came into your attic (a nice warm place for a squirrel to visit!), some people would pay for someone to come and kill the squirrel. Others would chase the squirrel out and block the hole that the squirrel came in. Other people again may not mind at all if the squirrel lives in the attic.

Example 2: Badgers live at the bottom of the garden, but you had planned to have a vegetable patch there. Some people would get a license to allow them to have the badgers killed. Others would find a way to relocate the badgers to a different area. Other people again would think, ‘Oh well, we’ll have the vegetable patch somewhere else’ and leave the badgers alone.

Example 3: A mouse lives under your shed and you see him in the garden at night. He has chewed a corner of the shed, but other than that, he’s been no trouble. Some people would go and buy poison to kill the mouse. Others would buy a ‘humane’ trap so they could catch the mouse and move him somewhere else. Others again would think, ‘Isn’t it lovely to have animals in the garden and what does a little corner of the shed matter? After all, it’s his world too.’

What do you think?


  • Should we be more accepting of animals we share the planet with?
  • If animals dig up your lawn or chew your fence, is that enough reason to kill them?
  • Why do you think that some people encourage animals into their garden, for example, by feeding hedgehogs and foxes, while other people would shoot, trap or poison them?
  • Is it ever OK to kill animals because they ‘annoy’ us?