A Texas school district said students and staff members will not be punished despite outrage from the animal-rights community over a video that shows high school juniors and seniors using a skipping rope of cat intestines.
The North East Independent School District said today that the exercise this month was part of a lesson plan for an anatomy class at Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio.
One video seems to show students dissecting animals, while someone is seen using a jumping rope with intestines. Another video appears to show two students swinging the intestines and a third classmate jumping over it.
"This was not meant to be disrespectful or degrading," Aubrey Chancellor, a district spokeswoman, told the Washington Post in a statement. "In fact, the students and the teacher are very upset it's being portrayed that way."
The district is still investigating the incident but does not plan to punish the teacher or the students who were involved because it was part of a lesson plan - and because, Chancellor told CBS affiliate KENS, they had no "ill will".
Chancellor said the teacher learned the same lesson when she was in college and thought it would be effective in her own classroom.
"The idea of the lesson was to demonstrate the tensile strength of the organ," she said. "However, we understand that best practices change over time, and we believe there is a more appropriate way to demonstrate the concept."
During the lesson earlier this month, some students shot Snapchat video. The clips caught the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which used the footage to highlight PETA's stance on classroom dissections.
"Every year, over 10 million animals are killed for classroom dissection - they don't die from natural causes," the animal-rights group wrote online. "They're stolen from the wild, taken from animal shelters, or killed in slaughterhouses.
"Dissection is bad science: 98 per cent of medical schools don't require it, studies show that students are less interested in science after being forced to dissect, and it's a super-archaic, cruel way to teach biology and anatomy."
PETA added: "Churchill officials have an obligation to ensure that this never happens again - they need to end all animal dissection immediately. Allowing dissection to continue endorses callousness, disrespect, and cruelty to animals."
Chancellor, the district spokeswoman, told KENS that district administrators believe the lesson plan may need to be updated.
"At this point, we don't think that we will be using this same lesson," she told the news station. "Moving forward, we will need to find a more appropriate but equally effective lesson in the future."
PETA said in an email to mySA.com that it has suggested that the district use alternative methods to classroom dissection, such as computer games.
The district told the newspaper that dissections are "common" and will continue to be used as part of the curriculum, adding that it's "too early" to say whether alternative methods may be adopted.