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In 1981, the former Department of Education published a guide for teachers entitled Keeping Small Animals in the Classroom. This illustrated manual outlined the needs of various vertebrates and invertebrates as defined by the law at that time.

Recent legislative changes have placed new restrictions on the use of animals in schools and early childhood education centres. The Animals Protection (Codes of Ethical Conduct) Regulations 1987 have been superseded by the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and the 'duty of care' of animals is the paramount feature in this new legislation.

This publication updates Keeping Small Animals in the Classroom so that both the ethical and the legal obligations for boards of trustees, teachers, early childhood educators, and students are clearly explained, whether they are manipulating (as defined in the legislation) or just observing animals. The guide also outlines the needs of various vertebrates and invertebrates to ensure that they are kept healthy and well cared for.

Contact with animals provides a wealth of experiences for all. All contributors to this publication firmly believe that if people learn to care for animals, those people will be better placed to care for each other. This guide gives those in positions of responsibility the necessary information to provide enriched learning opportunities for students and other children.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed resources and expertise to support the preparation of this publication, including the Animals in Schools Education Trust (AISET), which is a charitable trust established by the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART), and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Elizabeth Eppel

Group Manager
Ministry of Education