Dissecting any living thing in a zoology or life science class to study muscular movement or a beating heart will soon be a thing of the past. The UGC has reiterated its directive to stop dissection of any “live animal” in any university. A letter to this effect was received by some Delhi University colleges this past week.

“In zoological parlance a live animal will include even cockroaches and earthworms,” explained zoology professor P. K. Sinha, adding that the whole issue has placed teachers in quite a predicament as the very essence of zoology involved learning about the anatomy of animals and this cannot be replaced by any software.

“Students from the first year will have to be taught something or the other that involves experimenting with at least rodents or vermin,” he said, adding that they had stopped experimenting with frogs about a year ago since it was an endangered species and they had also received a notification to this effect.

“We will be stopping procurement of all animals from suppliers,” said Hindu College Principal Pradyum Kumar, adding that his college had received the letter last week.

The letter addressed to Vice-Chancellors and directors of educational institutions forbids dissection and experiments on live animals.

Plastinated specimen

“You are requested to come up with alternate modes of dissections using digital/plastinated dissected specimen. The expenditure for this purpose may be met out of the UGC block grants provided to the university during the XII plan period,” said the letter dated February 20.

The UGC had prescribed guidelines for stopping dissections in a phased manner and suggested alternative methods of experimentation in November 2011, and the letter had also asked colleges and departments in every university to comply with it.

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