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Home > Issues Facing Teachers > Get Involved

Ban Cruel Field Trips at Your School

Students look forward to field trips, and they offer an opportunity to get exciting hands-on experience with the world and enable learning outside the classroom. The only problem is that some field trips send the wrong message to our young people. By seeing animals trapped in cages or being forced to perform silly and uncomfortable acts, children get the dangerous message that it is acceptable to bully weaker beings.

Every year, countless schools take their students on field trips that support animal abuse without even realizing it. A few animal-unfriendly field trips include the following:

  • Circuses: Animals used in circuses are shackled for their entire lives‚ beaten by handlers who want to establish dominance‚ and separated from their families. Barbara W. Boat, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the Children's Hospital Medical Center, advises against exposing children to this abuse: "An industry based upon the use and abuse of wild animals has no place in either the education or entertainment of young children."
  • Zoos: Zoos claim to provide educational opportunities, but most zoo enclosures are very small and misrepresentative of animals' natural habitats. Animals' normal behavior is not observed because their natural needs are rarely met—so the experience is not educational for students.
  • Aquariums: Trips to aquariums are not learning experiences for students. Fragile tropical fish, who were born to dwell in the majestic seas, suffer miserably when they are forced to spend their lives swimming in endless circles in glass tanks.
  • Petting Zoos and Farms: Children who visit petting zoos often bring home more than their parents bargained for. Health officials indicate that petting zoos and farms are hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E. coli and salmonella bacteria, which can cause children to become severely ill—some have even died.

To educate your school administrators about cruel field trips and work to implement a policy prohibiting them, sign our pledge to ban them at your school and follow the steps below:

  • Talk to other teachers in your school about this important issue and ask that they sign a petition supporting your initiative to have your school implement a policy banning cruel field trips.
  • Contact your principal to set up a meeting.
  • Print out our factsheets on each of these typical field trip destinations in order to be prepared to talk about the issues surrounding each and offer viable alternatives for more humane destinations—contact us for ideas!
  • Meet with the principal and discuss the issues, and ask if he or she is willing to sign a pledge on behalf of the school.
  • If your principal agrees, be sure to thank him or her graciously and let us know! If your principal wants more information about this topic, please contact us, and we would be happy to help you with the next steps.

Feel free to contact us at Info@TeachKind.org for more help and advice!

If you or your school is ready to make this commitment, sign the pledge below on behalf of your classroom or your entire school:

Pledge to Ban Cruel Field Trips

Full Petition Text: 

I understand that animals used for circuses, zoos, aquariums, and petting zoos are kept in captivity for their entire lives and denied everything that is natural and important to them. I further understand that by seeing animals trapped in cages or being forced to perform silly and uncomfortable acts, children get the dangerous message that it is acceptable to bully weaker beings.

By signing my name, I pledge never to take my students on any field trips that exploit animals, including field trips to zoos, circuses, aquariums, petting zoos, or farms.

[Your Name]

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