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Animals in danger

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3
  • Subjects: Citizenship, English
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30
  • Venue: Seized! gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum


Animals in danger is an interactive session where pupils are allowed to investigate objects that have been made from endangered animals and have been seized by the UK Border Force at airports and docks around the UK. The pupils are introduced to the concepts of import and export and the lengths some people and organisations will go to in order to smuggle in prohibited items.

Further details

Person looking at turtle

Pupils will hear the stories behind the smuggling of the objects and will be introduced to the CITES laws that aim to prevent the illegal trade in endangered species, and they are encouraged to question, discuss and explore the ethical issues raised by such activities.

Young people seem particularly interested in the animal collection which includes ivory tusks, stuffed crocodiles and snakeskin shoes, being able to hold these objects the pupils are inspired to question how and why some people choose to put these beautiful creatures at risk.  

The museum staff who deliver the session have been trained directly by the UK Border Force about detection work. We have worked with the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) organisation and visited the animal reception centre at Heathrow airport.

Our unique relationship with the UK Border Force means that we are always up to date with the latest seizures, discoveries and smuggling trends.

Curriculum links

Key Stage 2 - English Spoken Language

Pupils should be taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates

Key Stage 3 and 4 - Citizenship

Pupils should be taught:

  • To develop a sound knowledge and understanding of the role of law and the justice system in our society and how laws are shaped and enforced
  • The nature of rules and laws and the justice system, including the role of the police and the operation of courts and tribunals
  • The roles played by public institutions and voluntary groups in society, and the ways in which citizens work together to improve their communities
  • Human rights and international law
  • The legal system in the UK, different sources of law and how the law helps society deal with complex problems

Animals in Danger links to PSHE for all key stages with its focus on drug smuggling, making healthy choices, keeping safe, being a responsible citizen and providing an opportunity for informed debate. Following the changes to the curriculum the teaching of PSHE is still encouraged but with no statutory guidelines.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Gain awareness of the laws regarding the illegal import of banned goods including; endangered species
  • Understand that smuggling can be intentional, personal or commercial, or sometimes accidental.
  • Learn about habitat destruction and hunting as a threat to endangered animals & plants.
  • Learn about the consequences of smuggling on the perpetrator. 


Pupils will:

  • Improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.
  • Learn to question and discuss issues relating to smuggled goods that may affect their own lives, or those of the wider society.
  • Give reasoned answers backed up by evidence.


Pupils will:

  • Be introduced to the role the UK Border Force and how it protects our society.
  • Be introduced to the work of the education team and the value of a visit to a museum.
  • Learn about the techniques used by smugglers to get smuggled goods into the country and the ways the UKBF try to prevent this.


Pupils will

  • See the museum as a fun and interesting way to learn more about the past and the present.
  • Be inspired to have the confidence to make the right choices for themselves backed up by factual information and expertise.
  • Explore the ethics of the use of animal products, both endangered and non-endangered.