Live Animals In Undergraduate Productions


This policy applies to use of a live animal, or animals, in a rehearsal, performance, public event or classroom project held at or sponsored by Yale College. The “casting” of a live animal in an undergraduate production must be anticipated and planned for well in advance of the expected arrival of the animal.

Policy Statement

The presence of live animals in rehearsal or onstage can create safety and health hazards for cast, crew, patrons and the public.  This policy is intended to protect those who might be at risk of an injury from a live animal, who might have specific sensitivities (allergies or phobias) to certain types of animals, and to prevent the possibility of disease transmission.  Additionally, implementation of this policy is expected to provide for the proper care and protection of an animal while in a production.  Compliance with related local health codes and adherence to Yale’s animal care policies and procedures are important goals of this policy. This policy does not apply to service animals as defined by the ADA.

Reason for the Policy

The inclusion of live animals in a production onstage may be script-driven, or concept-driven; many scripts call for the “casting” of live animals in a show, and the adventurous staging of some productions are envisioned with actors interacting with live animals.  In either case, the determination to “cast” an animal in a production requires careful consideration by all involved.  Having a proscribed process by which the use of live animals can be evaluated provides guidance, and establishes a best practice related to the safe and humane use of live animals in production.  This policy also assures compliance with local ordinances and Yale’s requirements.


Live Animals:  All sentient creatures, including birds, fish, reptiles, insects and mammals other than a human being.  (Herein after referred to as animal or animals.)

Service Animal: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.  A service animal is not a pet.

Domestic Animal:  An animal that is sufficiently tame to live with a family.

Pet: Any domestic animal that is kept and cared for as a companion.

Competent Animal Handler: A person capable of the management, care, feeding, and handling of the species of animal to be used, but not necessarily having prior professional experience in these practices.

Experienced Animal Handler:  An animal handler who has prior professional experience in the management, care, feeding, training, and handling of the species to be used.

Humane: Marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns; characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.

Basic Principles

  • All animals used in production shall be treated in a humane manner.
  • Animals are not to be unduly stressed or caused distress for the sake of the production or performance.
  • Animals must be handled and managed by a Competent Animal Handler for that species, who should be present at all times the animal is present in the facility.
  • An Experienced Animal Handler may be required if the nature of the animal’s involvement in the production requires specialized training, stunts or similar specialty action, or the animal is known to be difficult to handle.
  • Only well-trained animals are to be used in stunts or special effects.
  • The use of general anesthesia or sedation on an animal is prohibited for the purpose(s) of the production.


  • The management staff (producer, director, stage manager) for a production or event that anticipates using an animal must confer with Undergraduate Production during the design or planning phase of the production.
  • An application process will begin after an initial conference related to the proposed use of an animal. A request in writing must be submitted to Undergraduate Production no later that six weeks prior to the first rehearsal requiring the animal. That written request must include at least the following information:
    • A statement of the reason for the use of an animal, its intended use(s) in the production, and a review of possible alternatives.
    • The number and type(s) of animal(s) to be used.
    • Information and estimates related to costs (fees, rental, and equipment), other required resources, care instructions, consumables, etc.        
    • Details related to the confirmation of the animal’s condition.  This could include veterinarian and/or medical records.
    • Information related to insurance, medical coverage and other related information.
    • Details related to the arrival and departure of the animal, including frequency of rehearsal and performance calls, the length of time on-site, the animal’s means of travel, the travel path while on-site, etc.
    • Notation of the assessment of specific safety concerns, and details related to plans to reduce risk and exposure.
    • Details related to the animals intended use in the production, including the number of people in likely contact, proximity of the animal to the audience, or to stage hazards such as floor-mounted lighting equipment or open traps. Specific information must be included to describe any stunts or special effects that would include or affect the animal.
    •  A plan for the care of the animal while on the premises, including temporary (less than 12-hours) or longer-term housing, environmental controls, feeding, waste disposal, etc.
    • Emergency planning procedures related to such events as evacuation of the rehearsal hall or theater; an injury to the crew, performer or patron; escape and re-capture of the animal.
    • The name, contact information and experience of the designated animal handler.
    • The name and contact information of the animal’s owner and medical care provider, and procedures related to the animal becoming injured or ill.
    • Contact information related to emergency medical care, and other emergency contacts.
    • Verification of the notification of the production’s company (cast, crew and artistic staff) and others potentially exposed.  Include details related to those who might be at a higher risk if exposed to the animal, such as young children, or pregnant women.
  • The request will be reviewed by Undergraduate Production, and others as deemed necessary.  The management staff for the production will be notified if and when the request is approved.
  • The production team must provide Undergraduate Production a means to verify that the animal has been returned to the owner or source in the condition received.
  • All those who might come in contact with the animal must be notified.  Any concerns, phobias, allergies, etc. should be reported and reviewed as part of the application process.
  • Consideration must to taken when the animal is present to avoid unnecessary handling, loud or disturbing noises, and to limit other distractions such as food or perfume smells, other animals, etc.

Precautions and Prohibitions

  •  The office of Yale Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Chair and the Director of the IACUC must be informed of each instance of the use of an animal on campus in compliance with this policy.
  • Animals are not allowed in or around areas where food is being prepared, served or consumed.
  • Animals are not allowed to be in contact with patrons or the public unless trained to do so, and are managed by an Experienced Animal Handler. (Related information must be included in the request letter if such contact is anticipated.)
  • Patrons and the public must be notified of the use of an animal in production by appropriate signs in the lobby of the theater.
  • The time that an animal is on-site or on-stage should be kept to a minimum.  Rehearsal and performance schedules should be planned to limit the actual contact and on-site time of the animal.
  • The preferred plan for an animal’s care is for the animal to be cared for off-site by its owner or handler, with the animal brought on-site only as necessary for rehearsals or performances.
  • Only the animal handler and those who must have direct contact with the animal should be allowed to do so.  Unnecessary contact (petting, etc.) is not permitted.
  • Animals may not be sedated or drugged for the purpose of performance enhancement.
  • Other appropriate Yale offices to contact include Yale Police, Yale Security, Yale Environmental Health and Safety, The Office of Public Affairs, and Risk Management.

Related Information

Refer to the American Humane Association’s “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media” for detailed information and specifics related to certain animal species.  American Humane Association: