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Is it cruel to keep animals in cages?

Discover resources and activity ideas that will
help students learn about persuasive writing
and animal welfare.

The RSPCA believes that in order to decide whether or not something is ‘cruel’, we must look at each situation in terms of the Five Freedoms:
  • Freedom from hunger and thirst – does the animal have easy access to fresh water and correct food?
  • Freedom from discomfort – does the animal have an appropriate living environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area?
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease – does the animal have access to veterinary treatment as soon as it is required?
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour – Does the animal have an appropriate area to regularly engage in their natural activities (e.g. dogs love to run, play and dig)?
  • Freedom from fear and distress – Is the animal appropriately protected from events which cause it mental suffering?

Activity ideas

Ask students to choose one or two images from our image response sheet and reflect on the feelings of the animal and the needs of the animal.
  • PMI – on animals in cages such as zoos, intensive farming.
  • Create a poster about your chosen animal welfare issue.
  • Write a letter to the newspaper about your chosen issue.
  • Create a collage about animals in captivity.
  • Write a story about ‘a day in the life of a caged animal’.
  • Imagine you are interviewing a caged animal, write down your questions and how you think they would respond (could be a role play).
  • Survey your classmates about their opinion about caging animals, record the data and display it in a bar graph/pie chart.
  • Use a venn diagram to show the differences and similarities and differences in the needs of different types of animals.
  • Read and respond to articles:

    'Abused Maggie sees light' (Herald Sun, January 2011)
    'Circus Animal Debate Begins' (News Mail, October 2010)
    'Ethics Winning Hearts, Markets' (Weekly Times, January 2011)
    'Happy Tails, Sad Tails, Happy End' – (Courier Mail, November 2009)
  • Engage your class in Actions for Animals to help the RSPCA and animals in our communities.

Online resources

Puppy factories

Learn about intensive the intensive breeding of dogs and how to stop this cruel industry. Download our Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide to learn how to buy a puppy from an ethical source.

Farm animal welfare

Gr 3 – Yr 7 - WOAW (World of Animal Welfare) lesson about egg production.

Choosing Wisely to buy animal welfare friendly food when eating out or making humane choices at the supermarket and butcher via RSPCA Approved Farming products.

Teacher leader resource pack exploring farming and animal welfare. Comparisons between caged and free range farming systems and the origins of farming.

The Meatrix is an engaging resource for teachers and primary students. It takes an interactive, behind the scenes look into factory farming.

Zoos and sanctuaries

Discussion of benefits and downfalls of keeping animals is captivity.

Five Freedoms

P-3 WOAW (World of Animal Welfare) fun and active lesson about the needs of animals.

Relevant picture books

Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix Illustrated by Joel Hyatt
Interest Level: Grade P-3 Publisher: Gryphon Press, 2006.

Shelter Stories: Love. Guaranteed by Patrick McDonnell
Interest Level: Grades P-3 | Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2008.

The Hound from the Pound. Written by Jessica Swaim. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry.
Interest Level: Grades P-3 | Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2007. Readers, 2007.

Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley
Year Level: Grades 2-5 | Publisher: Kane/Miller Book. Publishers, 2003.

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