The Petaluma Wildlife Museum, which is run by students and overseen by a board of directors, faced public outcry when videos of students killing feeder rodents by slamming them against walls and rocks surfaced online. An Internet petition to shut down the museum, which is located on the campus of Petaluma High School, garnered more than 1,200 signatures. A small majority of those who took part in the Argus-Courier’s unofficial poll agreed that the museum should be shut down. Here were some of the comments:
“Animal cruelty is a very serious issue, not just in and of itself, but the behavior and motivation of an individual who harms animals is a big psychological red flag. Those who lack empathy for animals also tend to lack empathy for other people — childhood cruelty toward animals is the first warning sign of violence and criminal behavior. This event should not be taken lightly, and the kids involved in the abuse of rats should undergo psychological evaluation and therapy.”
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“Don’t over react. It’s a teachable moment.”
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“Shut it down until the fall. Fire whoever was directly responsible for allowing this to happen. Discipline all of the students involved. Spend the summer figuring out how this happened and take steps to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
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“It would be a drastic measure to shut down the museum. There is a need to better supervise the students, and make sure teachers and students are trained in humane education.”
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“Stop the rat breeding program and purchase frozen rats for reptile consumption.”
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“The wildlife education should still be there but, students should have a supervisor there to make sure that animals are not being harmed.”
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“There is nothing to suggest that the museum trained children in abusive practices. This is a good resource and simply needs reform and monitoring, not to be shut down. Shutting down would effectively deny other youth the opportunity to connect with nature.”
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“This is such a deeply important issue that it deserves a great deal of attention and discussion. First of all, these kids should be suitably punished, but more importantly they should undergo psychiatric evaluation. This kind of behavior is a big red flag. Much more supervision by teachers who actually understand and respect animals should be mandated.”
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“From the article, it sounds like the situation has been addressed by the school. The appropriate system for euthanizing the feeding rats is in place and the students involved in the inappropriate action have been disciplined.”
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“A museum culture of humane practices and everyday decency is cultivated by sound leadership. We are lacking this at the museum. We obviously need to replace the advising teacher and the board of directors.”
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“A museum kills nothing.”
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“The teacher was not involved in this and her name should be left out of this.”