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Displaying and demonstrating animals

Animal ethics committee (AEC) approval is required if a display or demonstration uses an animal for a scientific purpose. If displaying or demonstrating an animal does 'use' the animal, careful consideration must be given as to whether the display or demonstration meets the criteria for being for scientific purposes.

For example, AEC approval is required if the animals are going to be used to demonstrate knowledge or a technique in agricultural, medical or veterinary science, such as using animals to train surgeons in the use of a piece of medical equipment.

Many displays or demonstrations are for purposes that are not scientific purposes and so do not require AEC approval under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. These include displays or demonstrations:

  • for entertainment (e.g. animal display at a birthday party)
  • to promote a product, service, hobby, sport or recreation (e.g. guide dogs being used to raise funds)
  • to add interest to a display or area (e.g. corporate fish tank in a lobby)
  • to convey a general awareness about animals rather than knowledge or competencies in a scientific discipline (e.g. wildlife displays at schools or livestock displays at agricultural shows)
  • to provide interest or companionship (e.g. school class pets).

Although a display or demonstration may not require AEC approval, the duty of care and cruelty provisions of the ACPA that ensure the responsible care and use of animals still apply. Other requirements, such as those relating to wildlife under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 may also apply.