The care and use of animals in education and medical research are very controversial and emotional public issues. Society needs to discuss these issues to reach an ethical stand. A sample of 118 sciences student teachers from a South African university responded to a questionnaire on animal rights and using animals for food, clothes, sport, entertainment, and specifically education and medical research. The responses were analysed qualitatively and/or quantitatively. The results indicated that students generally care for an animal's life. Students responded positively (with conditions) concerning the use of animals for education and medical research. They considered animals as a necessity for food and education. They were not in favour of using animals for sport and entertainment. The results showed that the animals' hierarchy of classification influenced the responses of the students and that more students are in favour of dissection rather than vivisection. Female student teachers are more averse to dissection and vivisection than males. The implications of the findings for teaching of subjects in the life sciences at educational institutions are considered. A number of suggestions are made regarding the use of animals for teaching purposes.