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Questionable Judgments

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In December, even after the widely reported tiger attack on a visitor at the San Francisco Zoo, the Houston Zoo was still allowing its visitors to play "tug of war" with its own lions and tigers. A 20-pound slab of meat, attached to a long rope, is tossed into the enclosure, and visitors are encouraged to toy with the cats by yanking on it as the animal lunges for it. Said a Houston zookeeper, the game keeps the animals from getting bored. Besides, a zoo official said, "(The lion or tiger) kind of lets us know when he wants to play, and we go along with that."

Two counselors in the Denver school system proposed in December that the school board give high school girls who get pregnant at least four weeks of maternity leave, without academic penalty, so they can bond with their newborns. The counselors said the policy would encourage teen mothers to stay in school.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education of the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra granted permission for a 16-year-old student at Stromlo High School to take smoking breaks, based on a doctor's finding that she is so "clinically addicted" to nicotine that her work suffers without it.

A teacher at Yamata Elementary School in Yokohama, Japan, was disciplined in January after a finding that she improperly punished her class because a few students would not come to order. Officials said she lined up all students and walked down the row, slapping each one in the face.

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