Teachers Hub

Teachers Hub

Teachers play an incredibly important role in society - they guide, nurture, and equip our tamariki with knowledge and skills to enhance their chances of a prosperous future. 

Teachers have a lot of influence over their students. Besides immediate friends and whānau, teachers have the largest impact on students:

  • Almost all (98%) participants in a survey agreed that a good teacher can change your life.1
  • Research confirms that teachers’ attention to the social and emotional needs of students plays a vital role in their academic engagement and achievement.2
  • Perceived teacher support is important to all students.3 To the point that self-assessment is affected by teachers exercising their agency dominantly.4

With this comes the responsibility not only to care for your student’s intellectual development but for their overall well-being and safety.

The influence teachers can have on students extends to how they perceive or treat animals.5 Compassion for animals can be taught and encouraged in many ways, while the perception of unethical animal treatment forces them to desensitise and adopt coping mechanisms.6

At NZAVS, we have the utmost respect for teachers and their important mahi.


We’ve created this page especially for teachers to help inform them about:


Our Survey 

From June to July 2021, we conducted a nationwide survey about animal use in NZ schools (from primary to high schools). We wanted to better understand which types of animals are used, how they are used, and how confident schools are with the current animal welfare laws and regulations.

From the participating schools (46.8%), we learnt that there is

  • An urgent need for teachers and school administrators to be educated about the current laws and regulations in NZ.
  • A lack of awareness around the availability and teaching value of alternative and animal-free teaching methods.

Key statistics:

  • 30.9% were not familiar with any regulations regarding animal use in schools.
  • 14.7% use live animals.
  • 16.6% use animal dissections.

Find out more here.


Requirements under the Animal Welfare Act

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, research, testing and teaching involving manipulating live animals may require ethics approval. This requirement applies to animals used in schools and school activities.7 The definition of “animal” currently covers:

  • mammals
  • birds
  • reptiles
  • amphibians
  • fish
  • octopus, squid, crab, lobster, and crayfish
  • mammal, bird or reptile foetuses in the second half of gestation
  • marsupial pouch young.

Dissections performed as part of a school’s curriculum should be in line with the Code of Ethical Conduct, overseen by the Schools' Animal Ethics Committee of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators (NZASE). The NZASE code was last updated in 2019 and encourages teachers to consider using computer-generated and 3-dimensional models as a replacement for animal remains in teaching situations that require dissection. You can read the code in the NZASE upload.

If you are using animals for teaching purposes beyond routine care for classroom pets, you likely need to apply for approval from the Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee. Not getting the required approval is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act. Retrospective approval will not be given under any circumstances! It is your responsibility to check about a project requiring ethics approval beforehand.8

The New Zealand Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee has many great resources to help you determine if you need approval, such as this downloadable poster:9

You can find more information about the use of animals in your teaching and a guide on applying for ethics approval on their website.

The Ministry’s Safety and Science | Pūtaiao: Guidance for Aotearoa New Zealand Schools and Kura also states that all material for dissections must be obtained from a reputable source and suggests a web-based dissection could be used for students who do not wish to participate in the activity. You can find the guidance at scienceonline.

Code & Standards of the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Code of Professional Responsibility sets out the high standards for ethical behaviour that are expected of every teacher. The Standards for the Teaching Profession describe the expectations of effective teaching practice.10

The Code and Standards apply to every certified teacher, regardless of role or teaching environment, and to those who have been granted a Limited Authority to Teach. Together they outline what it means to be a teacher in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The code includes commitments to

  • providing high-quality and effective teaching.
  • promoting the well-being of learners and protecting them from harm.
  • engaging in ethical and professional relationships with learners.
  • promoting inclusive practices to support the needs and abilities of all learners.
  • being fair and effectively managing my assumptions and personal beliefs.
  • promoting and protecting the principles of human rights, sustainability and social justice.

Such commitments support the use of alternative methods to animal dissections in teaching.



The benefits: 

By using alternatives to animal dissections for teaching students, you are:

  • Encouraging kindness and empathy towards animals.
  • Creating a safer, more inclusive learning space for students.
  • Encouraging future scientists to be compassionate.
  • Enabling better learning outcomes for students.

Many different tools can be used in place of animal dissections to teach students about anatomy and physiology. These include anatomical models, virtual dissections and anatomy apps, augmented reality tools and more!

You can find more details about the advantages of dissection alternatives on our page about the benefits of kind education.

Risks avoided:  

Many students feel that they must participate in whatever teaching exercises their teachers assign them, even if they have serious ethical, cultural, or religious objections.11

This can lead students to perform the animal teaching exercise against their conscience and be left with negative emotions that impact their mental well-being. Students who perceive dissections as a negative experience are also usually uninvolved in the processes,12 decreasing their chances of learning well.

Even if a teacher believes that using animals (or animal parts) is acceptable if it doesn’t require purpose-killing animals (i.e., obtaining organs from a butchery), using animals in these ways can still negatively impact students. Feeling forced into dissections can even put compassionate learners off from a career in science altogether.5

Animal-free teaching methods avoid these moral dilemmas, and they are, in most cases, even outperforming traditional dissections in their learning outcome.13


Alternatives to animal dissections

Free resources:

Anatomy Stuff has a free resources section on their website where you can find detailed anatomical information and illustrations, videos, free PDF poster and activity sheet downloads, and more.

The Science Bank has a fantastic list of online dissection resources, and they make it clear which options are free.

Other free resources:

  • While you need to review any video to make sure it is educational for your students, Youtube contains a vast amount of anatomy lectures and even real dissection videos.
  • Khan Academy is another free online resource, specifically aimed at providing educational (rather than entertainment) content.
  • Coursera offers free online courses on all kinds of topics, including anatomy and physiology.
  • Alison offers similar course structures (there are ad pop-ups to deal with) and is completely free including a downloadable certificate at completion. 
  • Initially launched within an MIT course in 2012, edX offers free access to their courses; fees are only involved to get a certificate for completed work. for example:


Purchasing resources:

Some of the many other options are listed below – along with their approximate cost.



Cost NZD*


Rescue Critters frog

Artificial dissectable frog

~ 210


SynDaver frog (no harmful chemicals)

Artificial dissectable frog

~ 260


WardSci fetal pig model

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 880


ESP rat model

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 400


Nasco fish model

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 690


Health Edco chicken model

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 2,100


MTA fish model (NZ)

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 320


MTA frog model (NZ)

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 210


MTA rat model (NZ)

Anatomy model, removable parts

~ 140


4D Vision Puzzle
(dog, cat, chicken, pig, horse, cow, gorilla, shark, tarantula)

3D anatomy puzzle

~ 80


4D Vision Puzzle
(frog, polar bear, giraffe, tiger)

3D anatomy puzzle

~ 55


Mel&Gerdy foldable anatomy model (vinyl)

Vinyl model (intended for demonstration by teacher)

~ 130 to 250


Mel&Gerdy foldable anatomy model animal (Download)

Download to print model (intended for students to assemble with teacher)

~ 30 to 70


Mel&Gerdy foldable anatomy model bundles (Download)

Download to print model (intended for students to assemble with teacher)

~ 330 to 460


Crescendo Science Lab Rat model (NZ)

Anatomy model, no movable parts

~ 180


WardSci rat model

Anatomy model, no movable parts



WardSci frog model

Anatomy model, no movable parts

~ 350


GraphicVizion Visual Anatomy Frog

Anatomy software (Microsoft PC or mobile)

~ 6


Punflay Rat Dissection

Dissection Simulator Software (for iPad and MacOS)

~ 7


Punflay Frog Dissection

Dissection Simulator Software (for iPad and MacOS)

~ 9


Avidia Rat and Frog Dissection

Dissection Simulator Software (for iPad, iPhone)

~ 20


ExploreLearning: Frog dissection

Dissection Simulator Software (any browser and device)

~ 260 per year; school licenses (dissection is one of over 400 apps)


Digital frog

Dissection Simulator Software (for Windows and MacOS)

~ 6 to 40 per student seat per year



Dissection Simulator Software (for iPad and iPhone)

~ 7


Biosphera 3D program
(bird, cat,, dog, rat, horse, bovine, fish, frog, pig, human, virtual cell)

Anatomy software (for Windows and MacOS)

~ 50 to 170


Biosphera 3D app
(bird, cat,, dog, rat, horse, bovine, fish, frog, pig, human, virtual cell)

Anatomy software (for iPhone and iPad)

~ 20 to 60


Visual Body (human)

Anatomy software (Windows and Apple, regular browsers, iPhone, iPad, Chromebook)

~ 70 per year; library licenses


A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy (human)

Anatomy software (Windows and Apple, regular browsers)

~ 180 per year; school building and district licenses


Intervoke - The Physiology of the Eye

Virtual reality Anatomy software (for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index)

~ 3


VictoryXR Dissections
(frog, pig, dogfish, cat, shark, invertebrates)

Virtual reality dissection simulation software (for Oculus Rift and Quest, Vive, HP Reverb, Windows VR)

~ 20 to 40




3D Anatomica (human)

Anatomy app (iPhone, iPad)

~ 10



* The actual cost in New Zealand currency will differ depending on exchange rates. Also, manufacturers might update their catalogues. So this is only the momentary situation at the time of our research.


Other helpful resources 

  • The MIT-launched website, edX offers a vast variety of learning material, contributed from over 160 universities and research institutions world-wide, including the University of Canterbury and Victoria University of Wellington.
  • The AAA (American Association for Anatomy) has a section for teaching resources.
  • Curiosity Stream is an online library of documentaries on many topics spanning from Science, Nature, and History to Art and Technology. There are specific courses and documentaries aimed at a younger audience; there is a small subscription fee
    • For example, this “crash course anatomy & physiology.”
  • National Academies offers free downloading or reading of scientific books on all sorts of topics.
  • Archive.org is one of the biggest online libraries; you can check out books, conference proceedings and journals to read online for an hour at a time for free.
  • The MIT has recordings of many of their courses accessible online, including resource material for course work and lecture notes.
  • You can also visit our Kind Education webpage for more info.


How we can help

Please reach out if you are interested in replacing animal dissections at your kura. We can help with sourcing the right alternative methods to suit your needs and also with funding in some circumstances.

Contact us at nzavs@nzavs.org.nz




  • Mahi: work 
  • Kura: school
  • Tamariki: children
  • Whānau: family



  1. https://aflcio.org/2012/1/20/survey-teachers-have-big-impact-students-lives
  2. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027268
  3. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220970903292868
  4. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-019-09935-z
  5. https://doi.org/10.2307/4448624
  6. https://doi.org/10.1177/089124197026001002
  7. https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1999/0142/latest/whole.html
  8. https://animalethics.org.nz/?page_id=179
  9. https://animalethics.org.nz/?page_id=362
  10. https://teachingcouncil.nz/resource-centre/our-code-our-standards/
  11. https://doi.org/10.22329/jtl.v8i2.3349
  12. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853000X00039
  13. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010114