Kitten Experiment in 4th-Grade Textbook Outrages Parents

India science primer tells kids to suffocate cats to illustrate how living beings need air
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 10, 2017 9:25 AM CST
Parents Rail Against Book Calling for Kitten Suffocation
DO NOT TRY THIS EXPERIMENT AT HOME, OR ANYWHERE.   (Tariq Zehawi/The Record of Bergen County via AP)

A textbook has sparked outrage in India for instructing fourth-graders to suffocate a kitten to show how living beings need air. The experiment described in the environmental science textbook for 9-year-olds tells the students to place two kittens in separate boxes, one of them without air holes, and wait to see the result. The textbook, titled Our Green World, was published by PP Publications, a New Delhi-based publisher of school textbooks, the AP reports. It had been used in hundreds of schools in the Indian capital and the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana since last April. The first chapter, titled "Living Things Breathe," reads: "No living thing can live without air for more than a few minutes. You can do an experiment."

That experiment? "Take two wooden boxes," the text continues. "Make holes on the lid of one box. Put a small kitten in each box. Close the boxes. After some time open the boxes. What do you see? The kitten inside the box without holes has died." The publisher said Friday the book was no longer being published and would not be prescribed for the new school year starting in April. "A couple of months ago, some parents called and complained about the science experiment in the book," said Parvesh Gupta, the publisher. "They said it was harmful for children and cruel to the animals." Although India's education ministry has advisory panels and institutes that approve of middle school and high school textbooks, elementary schools can choose and prescribe their own textbooks. (More India stories.)

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