Where kids can learn about animals?
I’ve heard some parents say “My 5-year-old child loves animals so much and there is no other way to meet his favorite heroes from ‘The Lion King’ but to take him to the zoo.” The zoo is indeed home to celebrity doubles from children’s favorite movies and books, such as lions, giraffes, tigers, elephants, hyenas, monkeys, pythons, parrots, and other exotic species.
What if parents say, “My five-year-old is so interested in the secrets of the Universe.” What is the best way to learn about planets? Maybe buy him a rocket ticket to Mars?! It’s a little expensive, but you could let your little boy write a Christmas letter to Elon Musk to ask.
But, let’s get back down to Earth! If we don’t go to zoos, how are our curious kids going to ever meet all those wonderful animals? If you’re not brave enough to go to the rainforest to spend the weekend with gorillas, another way to get to know many lovely animals is to watch “Planet Earth”. This fascinating documentary series is interesting for both children and adults whereas in a zoo, you observe animals living in unnatural conditions. In Planet Earth, you can see the real lives of animals and what their behaviour and habits in their natural environment look like. The great side of technology too is that it allows us to see everything from a safe distance without compromising anyone’s freedom.
What does it mean “to love animals”?
Parents also like to say: “My five-year-old loves animals very much!” Here’s an ideal opportunity to teach kids what the verb “to love someone” actually means. To love a living being, among other things, means to want it to be happy and free. Animals in cages are neither happy nor free, so such “love” does not mean much to them. To love a living being means to be kind to them and to take care of them. Here is an ideal opportunity for a child to learn that locking someone in a cage for life is not the greatest expression of care and kindness. Parents explain to their children that animals in a zoo are happy because they are protected, fed, and live longer there. This explanation sends children the message that security and food are the most important values in life; more important than freedom. Is freedom not the greatest value man has, freedom of choice, or, in the case of animals, freedom of movement? Here are great opportunities to teach children where freedom is on the list of life values.
Meet animals in libraries, not in zoos
Unlike the animals in the books and cartoons that are always in action, children might be disappointed by going to the zoo if they find animals sleeping. They could say that the residents of the zoo are not very polite because it is not nice to sleep when guests come. On the contrary, it is considered very rude. Imagine you go to the theatre and the actors on stage are asleep. Kids might get frustrated if they find a lion sleeping behind bars and they would rather pull him by the tail if they could just reach for it.
A perfect place for kids to meet the animals they love is in libraries. Instead of behind bars, many animals live between book covers. In the vegan rhyming picture book, “The Turtle Who Fights For Animal Rights” a girl who went to the zoo with her mother says it’s boring to watch a turtle because it’s just sleeping.
Turtle’s voice was never heard by those who paid to see the zoo.
“Mom, this turtle sleeps all the time,” said a girl by the cage door.
“She doesn’t even move her neck or open her mouth to chew.
Let’s go to look at something else; this turtle is a bore.”
The turtle in the story stuck its head back in its shell which is not very polite when someone addresses you. Often, people who pay for a ticket to the zoo expect the animals to entertain them in some way. How dare they sleep?! Taking children to the zoo gives them another disturbing life message: that animals are born to entertain people.
If children want animals to entertain them, they can go to the library instead of going to the zoo. There they will find a lot of interesting encyclopaedias and fictional adventure books in which animals can talk, dance, laugh and sing. This is quite a contrast to the silent giant turtle, the depressed gorilla or lion behind bars, or the bear sleeping in a zoo cage in mid-summer.