Humane Education

Humane education can be defined as the teaching of compassion and empathy for all living beings and respect for their habitats. AWI encourages teachers and educators to incorporate animal-friendly science education into their lessons and teach respect for rather than exploitation of animals.

The study of animals in their natural habitats can be particularly educational for students and can even be done in urban environments - such as observing birds at feeders, squirrels in parks, and insects on plants. In an effort to connect children with the natural world, some animals (such as hermit crabs, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals) have become popular classroom pets. Unfortunately, these animals don’t always receive adequate care, and some are taken from the wild in a manner that is inhumane and ecologically harmful. Click here to read an AWI Quarterly article about the problems associated with hermit crabs in captivity. Instead of purchasing animals for the classroom, teachers and students can set up temporary habitats in the classroom to study smaller invertebrates found locally, such as earthworms and insects, whose habits are not disrupted by captivity and who can be released following the classroom observations.

Read AWI’s Humane Education brochure for more information and project suggestions.


More than 12 million animals, including frogs, cats, rats, fetal pigs, fish and a variety of invertebrates are used for dissection in the U.S. each year. The use of animals for dissection causes unnecessary suffering and death, can have negative effects on the environment and human health, and teaches students to rationalize the unjustified killing of animals.

Investigations into the capture, transport, warehousing and killing of animals destined for dissection have documented cruel and callous treatment. An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 cats are used for dissection each year; many have been aggressively collected from residential communities in the U.S. and Mexico to be sold to biological supply houses for use as specimens. Frogs are taken by the millions from wetland habitats for dissection purposes - despite the fact that amphibians are declining throughout the world due to a variety of threats including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, disease and collection for commercial use. Frogs are piled into sacks, transported, and then inhumanely killed by immersion in preservative. The mass removal of these animals can have detrimental impacts on ecosystems.

AWI encourages the use of cost-effective, reusable dissection alternatives, including state-of-the-art computer programs and three-dimensional models which sacrifice neither animals nor quality education. A variety of alternative methods designed to replace dissection have actually been shown to provide superior learning outcomes for students.

Encourage your School to End Dissections

AWI has partnered with Digital Frog International and SAVE THE FROGS! to provide a multi-seat license for the Digital Frog 2.5 at no cost to schools in the United States that commit to end ALL animal dissections. To learn more about the agreement to end dissections, click here.