Canetoads off the menu, frogs next, for CQ science classes

IT'S one of the activities every high school student who studies biology ends up doing but it may not be conducted with fresh specimens if PETA gets its way.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is urging Central Queensland schools to stop using real frogs for dissection for biology classes.

The call comes after the advocacy group heard The Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee released a new standard operating procedure strictly limiting the use of cane toads in classroom dissection.

Reports show the committee has had guidelines in place where schools have had to apply to use canetoads in science classes.

Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee figures show there have been only 18 new approvals relating to toads by May 2015 with a total of 68 in 2014. 

PETA has sent letters offering free dissection-simulation software to every school in the state.

In its letters, PETA - whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to experiment on" - points out that dozens of studies show that students who use non-animal biology teaching tools such as the popular Digital Frog virtual-dissection software learn as well as or better than their peers who dissect animals.

Digital dissection also saves instructional time and money.

"Every student deserves the opportunity to learn about animals with the help of modern, state-of-the-art technology", says PETA Director of Campaigns Jason Baker.

"PETA is ready to help Central Queensland schools replace cruel and archaic classroom animal dissection with software that is as humane as it is cost-effective."

The millions of animals used in school and university dissection may be obtained from animal shelters, come from biological-supply houses that breed animals or even be taken from the wild.

The U.S. National Science Teachers Association - the world's largest science education organisation - endorses the use of modern non-animal methods as replacements for animal dissection.

Unlike crudely cutting apart chemically treated animal cadavers, highly interactive software programs teach students what animals' living bodies look like, and students can repeat lessons until they're proficient and confident.



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