Animals in education


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all animals in Queensland schools have appropriate standards of welfare.

It is the teacher's responsibility to provide a pedagogical justification for any learning activity that involves the use of animals. The use of animals must provide an added component to the learning that is not trivial or available in other ways, and there must be evidence to support this position.

Topics covered on this page

Duty of care

If you are in charge of an animal, regardless of what you are using it for or how long it will be in your care, you have a duty of care to that animal and legal obligations under animal welfare legislation.

Refer to duty of care for animals for further information about appropriate care to safeguard the internationally recognised '5 freedoms' of animal welfare:

  1. freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. freedom from discomfort
  3. freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. freedom from fear and distress.

Types of animal use

Schools may engage in a variety of activities involving animal use.

Non-scientific use of animals in schools includes keeping of classroom pets, use of assistance and companion animals, and various other Category 1 activities as detailed in categories of animal use activities.

Animal use for scientific purposes, classified as Categories 2 and 3 of categories of animal use activities, must comply with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Animal ethics consideration and approval by the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee (QSAEC) is required prior to animal use for scientific purposes.

Use the step-by-step decision-making process​ to determine whether approval is required by the QSAEC before you commence your animal use.

Procedures governing use of animals in Queensland state schools

The animals in Queensland state schools procedure outlines the responsibilities of principals and other school staff for animal use in schools to ensure compliance with animal welfare legislation.

The assi​stance animals in schools procedure outlines what Queensland state schools must do to satisfy anti-discrimination legislation in allowing the use of assistance animals by students with disability.

The agistment of livestock procedure outlines legislative requirements and administration processes required for agistment of livestock on school grounds or non-school property.

Animal information

Species-specific information is available at animal information.

Student and staff health

Those involved in the care and use of animals should make themselves aware of the potential disease hazards and other associated occupational health and safety issues, and manage risks according to the school's risk management process. Apart from injuries which may occur due to handling animals, there are a variety of infectious diseases (zoonoses) that are transmissible from various animals to humans.

Zoonotic diseases are common and the illnesses they cause can be serious. They can be spread by direct contact with animals, such as bites or scratches, or through indirect contact with animal faeces, bodily fluids, aerosols, birth products or enclosures contaminated with these materials.

Staff should familiarise themselves with the zoonoses the animals in their care may potentially transmit, the routes of transmission and what activities may potentially expose staff or students to infection. This research will inform the risk assessment to determine how to manage these risks or determine whether the activity should be conducted at all.​​

For comprehensive advice regarding zoonotic diseases and precautionary measures to minimise risks to staff and students, refer to animal observation and handling, animal contact guidelines – reducing the risk to human health (PDF, 1.8MB) and preventing zoonoses.

Biosecurity Queensland manages risks to Queensland's primary indust​ries associated with potentially harmful pests and diseases. Please visit their website for further information about animal disease and disease prevention or subscribe to their eNewsletters and/or alerts to get the latest biosecurity news.

Last updated 10 April 2024