J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida is using realistic, “SynFrogs” to replace dead animals. It is the first in the world to use synthetic frogs for ethical dissection.
Tampa-based company SynDaver specializes in cruelty-free, lifelike models. Its SynFrogs are reusable and mimic the properties of a live, female frog.
People can use the extremely realistic synthetic products for education, surgical simulation, and to test medical devices.
Kurt Browning, Pasco County Superintendent of Schools, said the Pasco County School District wants to become a “leader in innovation and opportunity for students.”
“Mitchell High School is the first in the world to use SynFrogs in science labs,” added Browning in a statement. “Giving our students a learning experience no other students have ever had.”
“We’re excited to announce our revolutionary SynFrog,” said Dr. Christopher Sakezles, CEO of SynDaver. “[The SynFrog is] a far superior learning tool as it is designed to mimic living tissue.” He continued, “this makes it more like a live frog than the preserved specimens currently sold to schools for dissection labs.”
Sakezles added, “SynFrog not only looks and feels like a real frog, it’s physically safer to dissect than a real preserved frog because it doesn’t contain potentially harmful chemicals like formalin.”
SynFrogs cost $150 each. Animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) helped get the product on the market by offering a $150,000 grant. PETA says dissection costs millions of frogs their lives each year.
Animal dissection is a controversial topic and many politicians are working to provide ethical and sustainable alternatives. One example of this is the popular and educational virtual dissection app called Froggipedia which was named Apple’s iPad App of 2018.
Earlier this year, California moved to ban all school dissection in the state. Assemblymember Ash Kalra introduced AB-1586, the Replacing Animals in Science Education (RAISE) Act. The bill would replace animal dissections with modern, humane alternatives such as SynFrog or Froggipedia.
“Learning about anatomy in schools is important scientific pedagogy,” said Kalra. “But dissection presents a significant impact on the environment and our fragile ecosystems. Advancements in educational technology have expanded access to this important scientific instructional methodology without having to rely on animals.”