Rancho Verde High School near Riverside, CA has banned frog dissections and replaced them with computer-based virtual learning experiences. They are apparently the first high school to ban the dissection of real frogs in favor of learning the same process with software. Why switch? Millions of real animals are used in schools for dissection each year according to Animal Welfare Online.
The school received the software for free, in exchange for a five-year minimum commitment to not use real frogs any longer. Rancho Verde will save $6,800 by not having to purchase 30 frog dissection kits over the five-year period.
The Animal Welfare Institute and Save the Frogs! are working together to help schools move from real dissections to virtual ones, by sponsoring a contest to donate the virtual dissection software for free to the first 25 schools that agree to permanently drop using real animals.
Save the Frogs! wants to end all real frog dissections in American public schools by 2014. Their reasoning for wanting to stop the use of real frogs is based in the fact wild frog species around the world are in a steep decline due to a fungus epidemic, climate change and habitat loss. A very large number of frogs used in dissection are taken from wild places, only adding to the loss of frog species. Dissection frogs raised on farms can carry infectious diseases, and are nonnative species, which sometimes escape and do damage to local habitats. Frog dissections are not done only in the US though, “You are doing a commendable initiative in saving the frogs, as dissections in secondary schools claim the lives of thousands of frogs in Tanzania unnecessarily”, said Ignas, a Masters Student from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Source: Save the Frogs!)
Save the Frogs! also says using real specimens teaches youth animals are disposable. It might also teach them animal life is not of any great significance, as the specimens are used for a while, then thrown away.
Frog dissection in the US for educational purposes has been going since at least the 1920s. Fortunately in today’s computer age there are viable alternatives using software programs, and it is no longer necessary to kill a huge number of frogs and other animals. Another benefit of using software is that through repeated student interactions, it can be enhanced and new versions can be created going forward.
Image Credit: Public Domain