Animal rights

Where can I find information about animal rights?

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Entry last updated: 09/04/21


Animal rights are all about the way humans treat animals. Sometimes animals are mistreated by people and need to be protected by law. There are also many groups that work to improve how animals are treated. Animal rights includes the issues of animal cruelty, animal testing, factory farming and illegal poaching of animals.

Animal rights

In New Zealand there are laws that aim to protect animals from cruel or unfair treatment. All farm animals are protected by the Animal Welfare Act.

Te Ara: The encyclopedia of New Zealand

This is a great website for information about Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Search for 'animal rights' to find their page on Animal welfare and rights.
  • Here you can read about the history of animal rights in New Zealand and some of the different organisations involved.
  • Look at the External links and sources page to find other useful websites.

NOTE: There are many animal welfare sites on the internet dealing with animal rights. These sites sometimes have graphic pictures that could be upsetting for you, so we suggest you look at them with an adult you trust.

Ministry for Primary Industries

To find out what rights animals have in New Zealand have a look at this website.

  • Try using the keywords 'animal welfare' to search, and you will find this page about Animal welfare laws in New Zealand.
  • Go down the page to the Animals in Research heading and select find out more. This page looks at research on laboratory animals (like rats) and farm animals.
Tips: We like sites that are from government organisations because the information is reliable. You can often tell this by their web address – they usually have .govt in their address. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

SAFE: Save Animals From Exploitation

This organisation looks at the ethics and treatment of animals in New Zealand. You can read about SAFE's campaigns, and issues such as factory farming, animal testing. and the Animal Welfare Act.

Animal cruelty

There are many groups that want to make sure animals are treated well and protected from cruelty.

SPCA: Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

This charity helps protect animals who are sick, injured, lost, abused or abandoned. One of the main aims of the SPCA is preventing cruelty to animals.

World Animal Protection

This is an international organisation dedicated to the protection of animals.

Testing and experimenting on animals

Sometimes animals are used to test new medicines or chemicals before they are used by humans.

Global Issues (Gale In Context)

Global Issues is one of the EPIC databases. It covers a wide range of current international issues including animal testing.

  • Go to Browse Issues.
  • From the list choose Animal Testing or Animal Rights.
  • Each article has an overview and then has resources grouped by type eg viewpoints, reference, news, and academic journals.

PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

This site has a page about Animals Used for Experimentation, including frequently asked questions like 'does animal testing save human lives?'

New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society

This site explains what vivisection is and why testing on animals might not help humans. Look under Vivisection Info.

Factory farming

Factory farming is about getting as much produce from animals as possible, for as little cost as possible. This system involves strict controls over how the animals live, which often includes keeping them in small indoor spaces. Hens, pigs, cows and fish are sometimes farmed this way.

There are many people who are concerned about factory farming and would like to see it replaced by other farming methods. The New Zealand Government is planning to ban traditional battery hen farming in the future and they are reviewing the rules. Check out some of the proposed new rules in the welfare code for layer hens.

Opposing Viewpoints (Gale In Context)

A good place to look for different viewpoints is the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics, which has been put together especially for New Zealand school students. You may need a password from you school or local library to access it.

This particular resource will allow you to explore both sides of an issue.

  • Search for the keywords 'factory farming' to find the Factory Farming topic page
  • From here you can look at different viewpoints, as well magazine and news articles.

Australia New Zealand Reference Centre Plus (EBSCO)

This resource has lots of magazine and newspaper articles specifically about Australia and New Zealand.

  • A search for 'factory farming' will bring up all sorts of news articles and opinions.
  • You can also try searching for a particular type of farming, like 'battery hen farming'.
  • There are options on the side of the results to limit them to certain years or subjects.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

The Egg Producers Federation New Zealand

For another point of view, we recommend official websites of groups of farmers, like this one.

  • If you look near the top of the page there is a link to Farming Eggs which gives you the facts and percentages around the egg farming industry in New Zealand.
  • This site also has some interesting information on the history of the industry.


DairyNZ is funded by dairy farmers to do research and find better ways of farming. Look under their Animals section to find their page on animal welfare. This gives farmers guidance on how to treat their animals.

Tips: When researching controversial topics (such as factory farming), always make sure you check for different viewpoints to get the whole story!

Animal poaching

Animal poaching is the illegal killing or capture of animals. It usually involves rare or endangered animals, or takes place within protected national parks or other areas where it is illegal to hunt, fish or take animals.

World Wildlife Fund

This website has some great background information on why animals are poached and why poaching is a problem. The section Illegal wildlife trade covers the causes and impact of poaching.

Global Issues (Gale In Context)

Another good place to find information about poaching and the harm it causes is EPIC. This particular resource covers international issues like poaching.

  • Just type the keyword 'poaching' into the search box at the top of the page.
  • The results will include a topic overview of poaching as well as news articles and other resources related to poaching.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

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