Dallas Zoological Society Partnership : Elementary

Find and Track Animals

Topic Overview
Quick Facts
Animals on land have padded feet in order to sneak up on their prey.
There are four types of tracks left by a snake, each representing a different method of travel – rectinilear, concertina, serpentine, and sidewinding.
The single greatest threat to green sea turtles is the development of Fibropapilloma Tumors, a disease caused by unknown reasons has reached epidemic proportions in geographic locations as distant as Hawaii, Florida and Australia.
Night vision goggles and glow-in-the-dark tracking powder can be used to track animals at night.
Black bears use the same trails over and over for generations. They tend to place their paws in exactly the same spot every time they follow the trail.
Male and female deer leave different tracks. Males have wider shoulders, so that the hind tracks (the ones on top) will tend to fall inside the line of travel. Female deer have wider hips, so that the hind tracks will fall outside the line of travel.
There are four satellites used to track animals. These satellites are part of the Argos data collection system sponsored in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Animal scat dries from the inside out.
Salvador Dali owned a pet ocelot. He once traveled with this pet aboard the luxury cruise liner SS France.
Begin the Lesson
Animal tracking is the process of finding animals in the wild. It is important to observe animals in their natural habitat in order to measure biodiversity, estimate population size, monitor ecological interactions, and study behavior. The large variety of techniques for tracking animals includes: 1) the collection of visual and acoustic observations; 2) the analysis of footprints and other physical tracks through mud, sand, snow, and vegetation; 3) the analysis of animal scat, hair, and fur; 4) the use of live traps and camera traps; and 5) the use of radiotelemetry and satellite tracking.
Whole Class Introduction to the Lesson
You will need at least one computer with Internet connectivity and a projection device, a classroom with more than one computer, or access to a computer lab.� This introduction will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Read the introductory slide to the class and then click on “Start Tracking Game.” As a class, try to guess the five mystery animals using the tracking clues provided in the pictures and audio.
Sample Questions:
What do you see in the picture.
How did the animal leave this mark?
How might we tell what time the animal passed by this location?
Where do you think this animal lives?
What do you think the weather is like where this animal is?
What does the sound tell us about the animal?
What type of animal do you believe made these tracks?
As part of the introduction, you may want to review some of the glossary terms in advance of students going online. At this point you can launch the WebLesson as whole-class activity using a projection device, or you can assign students to work individually or in teams in a computer lab.
WebLesson Sites
What do you see when you visit the zoo? Maybe you can watch polar bears or gaze on a giant anaconda. Zoos bring animals out of the wild and into our own towns.

Zoos are also important in helping to protect threatened animals. Humans build more cities and roads and this destroys the natural habitats.

Animal scientists are called biologists. They work hard to learn about the needs of different animals. They find and track animal populations in the wild. They tag and follow the animals. They look at animal tracks, fur, and droppings. This helps us to understand how animals behave and what they eat.

Tracking animals is also a fun activity. You too can track animals to discover what types of animals roam through our backyards and parks. We can even use tracking techniques to keep track of members of our own species.
You have made friends with a brown bear from the zoo. You go on a field trip to the forest. Together, you will follow the track that bears take and learn about the way they live and how they survive.
Lesson Pages
EEK! – Tracks Quiz for Beginners
Rich Media
Beartracker’s Animal Tracks Den
Beartracker’s Animal Tracks Den
WWW | Camera Traps | Gallery
Rich Media
Crittercam – Animal Pictures, Maps, Videos, Games, More
Rich Media
Conclusion & Project
We can learn more about animals by watching them. Both art and science are a part of animal tracking. We can search for paw prints in the snow, we can look at damaged plants, and we can pick through the remains left behind by animals to help us guess the how an animal acted and where they went. Cameras are often used to observe animals without them knowing we are there. These are called critter cams. We can take pictures and video to help us learn more about how animals live and move.
You have spent a fun day in the forest with your friend the bear from the zoo. Describe all of the ways the bear moved in the forest. Also, describe the bear’s activities. How did you use tracking to help you learn about the bear?
camera trap - camera that can be triggered to take pictures by the motion of a nearby animal
conservation - the protection of wildlife and of natural resources
coyote - small wolflike carnivorous mammal
crittercam - research video camera that can be attached directly to an animal
egg - an oval, thin-shelled object in which a baby bird develops
fore foot - front foot of a four-legged animal
four-chambered heart - type of heart that birds and some reptiles have that allows them to keep more oxygenated blood running through their bodies
hind foot - back foot of a four-legged animal
omnivore - animal that eats both plants and animals
search and rescue - operation to find a person or animal that is lost or injured in a remote area such as a mountain or forest
survey - detailed gathering of data and information
track - to follow a trail made by an animal