Live vertebrates afford opportunities to capture student interest and develop important educational experiences. Humane care and handling of the animals can be one of the most significant aspects of the lesson.
The study of classroom animals could include a wide range of observational and experimental protocols that do not compromise humane or conservational standards while providing background on the basics of science that encourage and prepare the student for continued education. Basic attention to detail and careful supervision will insure humane care of the animals and minimize the possibility of injury to students from bites and infection or discomfort from allergic reaction. As a general rule, only animals that can be humanely maintained and safely handled by the students should be permitted in the classroom. The animal's total existence, from source to ultimate disposition, is the ethical concern of everyone involved.
Field and zoo studies provide the opportunity to teach behavioral, morphological, ecological and evolutionary principles in ways that do not necessarily duplicate the material in textbooks but can reinforce the material while encouraging more reading and thoughtful reflection.
Part of any educational curriculum is the development of informed and healthy individuals whose moral values correspond to those of the society at large. Our society does value respect for life and therefore including the humane concerns for animals is rightfully very much part of any educational program
Beck, A.M. (1980). The vertebrate animal in high school biology. In H. McGiffin & N. Brownley (Eds.), Animals in education: Use of animals in high school biology classes and science fairs (pp. 60-65). Washington, DC: The Institute for the Study of Animal Problems.