Animal rights activists have posted online footage showing nine students at a top charter school in Oklahoma using dead cats in a “dance” video. The video shows the students making cat corpses dance to the jingle of the Meow Mix cat food commercial.
The video was shot last year in a science laboratory at the prestigious Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City and posted to Facebook by students at the school, the Huffington Post reports.
According to the Daily Mail, the student who uploaded to video to Facedbook tagged three other students and Leslie Piccolo, believed to be their science teacher.
The video was uploaded to YouTube recently by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
It shows students wearing white laboratory coats standing in a row and laughing as they hold up dead cats and move them to the tune of the Meow Mix ad jingle.
A student stands in front with another dead cat playing the role of conductor.
Near the end of the video, a student is shown holding a sign that says, “Piccolo and the Pussycats.” This is assumed to be in reference to the school’s science teacher, Leslie Piccolo, who, according to the school’s website, teaches “Human Anatomy/Physiology, Zoology/Botany, Health, Cardio-Conditioning.”
It is not clear whether the teacher was involved in producing the video.
According to PETA, the dead cats were meant to be used for dissection experiments in biology class.
Local news outlet KFOR and the UK’s Daily Mail said school authorities refused to respond to requests for comments. The Huffington Post reports that the school shut down its Facebook page on Monday after the story appeared on news sites.
PETA also said the school authorities have not responded to repeated inquiries about the video.
The director for the Humane Society in Oklahoma, Cynthia Armstrong, told KFOR that the incident was a stain on the reputation of the prestigious school. She said it was necessary for the school to ensure that it does not happen again.
She explained that the video is disturbing particularly because the cats may have been pets beloved by a family or an owner.
“If you think of a beloved family pet that you care about that’s ended up being euthanized, then sold to a dealer, and this is how their body is treated, I don’t think anybody would approve of that.”
A spokesperson for PETA, Justin Goodman, said many animals used in laboratory dissections are household pets stolen from their owners and that some shelters sell stray household pets to laboratories that need them for dissections.
“Cats used for dissection are often lost or stolen animal companions. But in classrooms like this one, students are taught that they’re props and inanimate laboratory tools to be mocked, used, and discarded.”
Animal welfare activists advocate the use of plastic and computer software models that simulate real animals.
“PETA is calling on Harding Charter Preparatory High School to teach its students to respect life and science – and it can start by replacing cruel and archaic animal dissection with humane and more effective non-animal teaching methods.”
“Students learn faster and better by using non-animal methods such as interactive software programs, and with these modern tools, they don’t learn to treat or think of animals as equipment to be used and discarded.”
But the National Science Teachers Association favors continued use of animals for dissections as a way to teach biology students anatomy.
However, the association recommends that schools provide alternatives to students who are unable to participate in animal dissections due to their beliefs or personal feelings.
PETA, according to the Huffington Post, used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain an email correspondence between Justin Hunt, the school principal and a state official. In the email correspondence, Hunt explained that “most of the students in the video were no longer students here at HCP when I had received the video, so they were not punished.”
“I have had conversations with the teacher. She has assured me that this will never happen again. This is completely out of character for our students and especially our staff.”
Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City boasts on its website that it has an A+ rating from the state’s education department. The school also boasts several other honors and awards for educational excellence, including being ranked No. 1 in the state of Oklahoma and 89th nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report in 2012.