Zoology Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Kathryn Miedema Dominguez

Kathryn has taught elementary students for over ten years and has her master's degree in elementary education.

Zoology is the branch of science that deals with the study of animals. In this lesson, you'll learn about some of the specific details that zoologists study, such as animal behavior and how animals interact in their environment.

Zoo Zoo Zoology

Did you know that new types of animals are found every year? Most often, scientists find new insects, but scientists believe that there are about 8.7 million different types of animals, while only 1.2 million have been identified. That leaves a whole lot of animals to still be discovered! When a new animal is found, scientists, called zoologists, study them.

What is Zoology?

Zoology is the study of animal behavior, their bodies, and how they interact with their environment and other animals. Zoologists study animals both in nature and in captivity, such as zoos. Many zoologists will study a particular animal 'in the field.' This means that they will go to where the animal lives to observe its habits and behavior. However, other zoologists will study an animal that is taken indoors such as zoos or laboratories.

Zoology is a huge field in science and many zoologists actually specialize in a specific group of animals such as herpetology - study of reptiles and amphibians, ornithology - study of birds, or ichthyology - study of fish, just to name a few. In addition, taxonomy is a branch of zoology that names newly found animals.

Zoology is important because it helps humans to understand how they are affecting other animals. Changes in animal behavior can affect the growth of their bodies and therefore affect how they interact with their environment. In addition, zoologists determine if animals are in danger of becoming extinct.

Animal Behavior

Have you ever seen any of the animal shows at Sea World? The trainers have to understand animal behavior, the way animals act, in order to train them to do these shows. The branch of zoology that studies animal behavior is called ethology.

Animals act in certain ways in order to survive. A few main reasons for their behavior are to find food, to mate, to be part of a group, or to get away from predators. For example, male peacocks flash their tail feathers to attract a female to mate. This is one type of behavior, but not all animals act this way.

Male peacock flashing tail feathers to attract female peacock.

How Do Animals' Bodies Work?

One part of zoology studies how animals' bodies work. It is similar to how doctors study human bodies. Animals have systems in their bodies to keep them alive such as respiratory (breathing) and digestive (breaking down food). Not all animals have the same systems, so zoologists learn about their different systems. For example, cows have four stomachs to digest their food whereas humans only have one. By knowing how an animal's body works, it helps scientists know what they need to eat to be healthy.

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