Which animal should you choose? What is the best way to start your research? Where are the best places to search for information? Let Oakland Zoo help with your next report.
Think carefully about the animal you wish to research. It will be easy to find information on most of the common larger animals found in zoos. (For a list of animals at the Oakland Zoo check out the Animals A-Z page). You may have to search harder to find information about unusual animals. If you find too much information, narrow your search. For example, instead of tigers, look for Bengal tigers. If there is too little information make your topic broader. For instance, compare Bengal tigers to Siberian tigers.
Make a list of key words that describe your topic. (In the example of the tiger, key words might include tigers, Asian wildlife, endangered cats, etc.) Now you are ready to search. The library: Using your key words, look on your library computer and copy down authors, titles, and call numbers for books that have the information that you need. A librarian can help you locate the books. The internet: Go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo. Type in your key words and look at the websites that come up. It is best to pick the ones that are from zoos or wildlife organizations. Websites by individual people are usually not as reliable and may contain opinions, not facts. Either take notes or print out the information.
Magazines like ZooBooks, National Geographic, and Smithsonian are wonderful sources for animal information. Your library and bookstore will have copies of these magazines. You can also find the articles on-line, but you may have to pay a fee to look at them.
If you have thoroughly researched your animal and you still need information, write to your local zoo with specific questions that you couldn't find in your research. (Make sure that the zoo has the animal that you are studying). Don't ask the zoo to do your research for you by asking for answers that you can find yourself. Instead, ask questions that only a zoo could answer. Remember that people who work in zoos are very busy so make sure to ask your questions several weeks before your report is due.