D.C. schools may lose classroom pets

Guinea pig, April 20, 2009, David Locke 1, Attribution 2.0 Generic:

D.C. students may have to say goodbye to classroom pets thanks to a city law.

Now, teachers, students and even some city officials want a change that allows them to keep the animals.

Four-year-old King Davis has a favorite among the dozens of animals at his school.

"Just birds in the bird cage," King says.

The birds are just a few of the nearly 40 exotic animals at the Myrtilla Miner Elementary School. The school houses everything from scorpions to tarantulas, using the animals as teaching tools.

But after the school's guinea pig died this summer, an inspector with the Department of Health ordered the animals removed, as they violate city laws against having exotic animals.

Tyrone Whiting, a parent of a student at the school, says, "The animal should stay. The kids love them."

The controversy has Councilman Tommy Wells pushing for an emergency bill to allow schools to keep exotic pets.

"Schools can have things like fish and turtles, just the kind of things that we all grew up with when we learned about biology," Wells explains.

It would be welcomed news to many of the kids who've come to love the pets.