Since the 1920s, students have been taking apart frogs to learn what the organs of the body look like and how they work. But it also is gag-inducingly gross, and the act of slicing apart an animal is ethically dubious. J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida just became the first school to use synthetic frogs, sparing students from everything that is disgusting about slicing into a dead frog.
According to PETA, millions of frogs are killed each year just so they can be dissected by students. So, PETA approached SynDaver, a company that makes "sophisticated and synthetic humans and animals for surgical training, anatomy education and medical device testing" to discuss the idea of creating synthetic frogs for students to take their scalpels to. SynDaver was two steps ahead of them, already working on what would be known as the SynFrog.
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PETA eventually partnered with the Tampa Bay-based company to pay for the frogs as part of an effort "to move schools away from using real animals in dissection and toward the many humane, non-animal options that are available," PETA said on their website. Each frog costs $150, and (unlike real frogs) can be reused.
SynFrogs were designed to be as lifelike as a dead frog as possible. SynFrogs have a synthetic skeleton, muscles, skin, organs, and reproductive system (complete with eggs) that mimic the look and feel of a real female frog. You can see the guts without the gore.
The school says that using synthetic frogs actually makes biology lessons more accessible to students. Plus, the synthetic frogs also don't expose students to toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde and formalin. And, icing on the cake, they don't smell.
"[K]ids are involved, they are in it, they are finger deep in frog guts, but it's all synthetic, so the smell isn't there, the stigma isn't there, they are not opting out," said J.W. Mitchell Principal Jessica Schultz said on the PETA website. "Every kid is engaged and we have students from all academic levels in the classes that we chose and the teachers that we have them with and they are just all in on this."
Some students have also said they prefer the fake frogs. "And real frogs, they don't actually have to be living and then die for us to do dissections on them, so I prefer this for sure." J.W. Mitchell student Maddie Foster said, according to PETA.
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