In public school systems across the world, few rites of passage are as universal as the dissection of a dead frog. Ostensibly intended as a deep dive into animal anatomy, the early adolescent ritual inevitably devolves into a morbid celebration of dismemberment and general grossness. But at the very least the whole thing is done in a controlled setting with a licensed educator guiding trembling hands and curious minds through the process.
That is, unless you happen to be a Mexican child in possession of the “Biología Plus” science kit from Mi Alegría toys, which includes a dead frog floating in a formaldehyde bath for children eight years old and up. You read that right: for going on 20 years, well-meaning Mexican parents have been buying their kids boxed kits full of plastic toy science instruments and a dead animal embalmed in a toxic chemical compound inside of a glass jar.
This, of course, is problematic on many levels, but a recent investigation by the country’s Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Dangers (COFEPRIS) has focused on the fact that formaldehyde is extremely dangerous if ingested, touched, or even inhaled. That’s a pretty good reason not to sell such toys to young children, but until the COFEPRIS concludes their formal investigation they have limited themselves to a strong recommendation that parents avoid purchasing the product.
Apparently dissatisfied with this lukewarm investigation, reporter Paris Martínez of Animal Político went a step further and determined that the industrial-level killing of wild animals actually flew in the face of Mexico City’s Animal Protection Law, which explicitly defines this as a “crime against a species.” That’s not to mention the shady psychological dynamics involved in providing a child with a dead animal to pick apart at will, something that, as psychologist Andrea Angulo explained, “Teaches that the body is something divorced from life, that the body is an object.”
Sounds like a recipe for little sociopaths. That is, assuming they don’t drink the formaldehyde first. In any event, if you’re on the market for a nice educational toy for your scientifically-inclined sobrinos, you might want to steer clear of this one.