Shark Hung From Rafters Prompts PETA Plea for Empathy Lessons in Schools

For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. – Following reports that a group of students from Ponte Vedra High School hung a dead shark from the rafters, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—rushed a letter today to St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson offering to provide the district with a K–12 kindness-to-animals curriculum and “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing youth violence against animals.

In the letter, the group notes that Florida law mandates that teachers provide instruction in “[k]indness to animals” and that TeachKind’s curriculum and offer to host free, empathy-building virtual presentations would help the district meet this requirement.

“Compassion and empathy can be learned, and TeachKind is on standby to help schools teach young people that everyone deserves respect, whether a shark or a student,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg.

TeachKind notes that research shows that 43% of perpetrators of school massacres first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so juvenile animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to the community at large. The group’s other resources include its free high school social justice curriculum, “Challenging Assumptions,” and its “Share the World” program kit for elementary school students.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind