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Re: Herps in the classroom

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Posted by Tom Bennett on April 24, 2001 at 21:44:35:

In Reply to: Re: Herps in the classroom posted by Ed Stone DVM on April 23, 2001 at 23:45:43:

I haven't heard of that report but if you find out where it was please let me know. I vaguely remember something about AVMA guidelines discouraging live animal use in the classroom a few years back but I can't seem to find it now.
I run a wildlife education company in Georgia that does programs for around 40,000 kids each year. I'm very surprised that teachers have gone out of their way to refuse free programs, we include reptiles on all our programs and I don't remember ever having a teacher/principal ask about salmonella before booking. Many of our programs are hands-on. At the beginning of these programs I mention CDC guidelines for interacting with animals and stress that we will need to wash hands after the program. I point out potential diseases with all the animals I present like monkeys, skunks, armadillos, and reptiles, to show that it is normal and that risks can be minimized using common sense.
I have had a few issues with taking venomous reptiles into the schools. Often when I take venomous reptiles into public schools the snakes stay in display cages while I discuss them. A couple principals I discussed this with were nervous because they had other people bring venomous snakes in that they thought were way too close to the students (who knows, 100 yards may be too close for some). Another school had an official "no poisonous snake policy" because a local individual had loaned a teacher an eastern diamondback and it spent a couple days in the classroom before the principal found out. It was in a regular glass aquarium w/ screen lid and a brick on top to keep it shut. Not a good example of herps in the classroom.
Being in a different school almost every day I have seen some really good examples of herps in the classroom and some really bad ones. I was called by a princial because he wanted to sell me a big snake that was in one of the 3rd grade classrooms. I went to take a look and it was 13' green burm crammed in a 2'x3'x3' cage. He said the janitor let it out once a week for exercise but the he got scared of it and won't let it out anymore. The teacher was also proud to show me her 2 iguanas and their pet turtle. The turtle turned out to be a gopher tortoise that she had picked up on the side of the road in south georgia because she thought it would be a good pet. Both the iguanas and tortoise looked like they were about to die because she was feeding them only lettuce from the cafeteria. With that said, most of the animals in classrooms I've seen have been well taken care of and the kids are definately more interested and prepared to learn what I have to present.

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