SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Keeping Animals in School Classrooms

Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching

SPCA only supports the keeping of animals for research, testing, and teaching in ways that ensure animals used in research, testing, and teaching have a “Good Life” where they experience positive welfare for the entirety of their life and meet the animals’ physical, health, and behavioural needs.

SPCA supports the societal benefits of positive animal and human interaction. Where animals are kept as classroom pets, SPCA recommends that their suitability is assessed on a case-by-case basis, with consideration to their species, age, temperament, life history, and the specifics of the setting and interactions. Animals should be properly assessed for suitability, supervised at all times, and have the choice of participation in interactions.

Animals kept in schools should have a specifically named and appropriately experienced person who is responsible at all times for the welfare and husbandry of the animals, and who ensures that a suitable environment is provided which satisfies the animal’s physical, health, and behavioural needs and provides a Good Life with opportunities for positive welfare.

To promote the physical and psychological health of any animal kept in school classrooms, an enrichment program must be implemented and monitored to ensure the animal’s species-specific and individual needs are met. The animal species selected should have a circadian rhythm that is compatible with the school day.

Animals must be given adequate rest periods away from disturbance and contact between students and animals must be supervised and controlled by someone competent and knowledgeable about the animal. In addition, provision must be made for suitable housing, husbandry, and veterinary care including term time, weekends, and during holidays.

SPCA is concerned that some animals’ welfare needs cannot be met in school classrooms.

Busy and noisy school environments can have negative impacts on the welfare of animals, particularly as the welfare of some animals cannot be ensured at all times due to the proximity of many different people. Our organisation supports the teaching of animal behaviour, welfare, and reproduction cycles in schools without the need to keep captive animals.

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