Study and use of animals in elementary and secondary schools

Study and use of animals in elementary and secondary schools


Humane Canada™ recognizes the importance of biology studies within the elementary and secondary school curricula. Such studies should be designed to instill in students an interest in and respect for all living things, as well as an appreciation for the uniqueness, complexity and inherent dignity of each individual organism. To meet those objectives, biology studies at the pre-college level should focus on animals as living, sentient creatures with intrinsic value, stressing their behaviour, life patterns and relationship with the environment.

Humane Canada™ opposes the use of animals in school-sponsored or approved experiments, lessons, or projects that: interfere with the normal health or development of the animals; constitute major manipulation of the animals’ behaviour or environment; or cause pain, fear, anxiety or discomfort.

Humane Canada™ believes that experiments and activities involving live animals should be limited to observations of the normal living patterns, behaviour, growth and development of domestic animals, or wild animals in the free living state or in those zoos or aquaria which maintain animals in suitable naturalistic environments which meet the health, emotional and behavioural needs of each species of animal.

Humane Canada™ believes that, under certain conditions, where significant educational benefits can be derived, the presence of animals in schools can be beneficial to students while providing for the well-being of the animals. Where small animals whose habitat can be easily and properly simulated in a classroom setting are brought into the classroom for observation over a brief period of time, proper provision must be made for their physical and mental well-being.

The necessary requirements for their physical and mental well-being include:

  • that a responsible adult is required to provide for the welfare and husbandry of the animals
  • that a suitable environment is provided
  • that provision can be made for suitable housing, husbandry and veterinary care at all times including weekends and during holidays
  • that any contact between pupils and animals is a supervised and controlled activity
  • that the animals are given adequate “rest” periods away from disturbance
  • that any animals kept in the school environment are prevented from breeding
  • that when they leave the school, the animals’ continued well-being is ensured

Humane Canada™ believes that vivisection and dissection are unnecessary and inconsistent with the development of a general appreciation and respect for living organisms and are, therefore, unacceptable at the pre-college level. Where dissection does take place, the animal should have been previously humanely slaughtered for human consumption or other valid purpose. Humane Canada™ is opposed to the sacrifice of animals solely for the purpose of dissection in elementary or secondary schools. Humane Canada™ encourages the use of alternatives to vivisection and dissection, such as computer simulations, models and other resources.

Read our position statement on the study and use of animals in elementary and secondary schools.
Study and use of animals in elementary and secondary schools
Humane Canada (also known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) is Canada's federation of SPCAs and humane societies, representing the largest animal welfare community in Canada.