When it comes to teaching children about the animals that coexist on the planet with us, we could be doing a lot better. Many of the methods we choose to “educate” children about animals are actually very harmful to animals and essentially badly masqueraded torture. We show children that animals are around to perform tricks for us, to sit idly in a glass enclosure while we gawk at them, are photo props for us to post on social media, or that they exist solely for our consumption. Instead, we should be teaching children that animal lives are as complex as ours, that not all animals look like puppies and kitties but they still deserve love, that we should be protecting their habitat just as we protect our own, and that there is no such thing as “food animals” and “farm animals,” there are only “animals.”
We see time and time again, however, that when left to think for themselves, many times children will connect these dots without prompting. We’ve seen children cry over the state of the planet, refuse to eat animals, and fall in love with farm animals just as they would a cat or dog. Many times, before society has gotten a chance to step in, children will see life a bit simpler, and realize that animals simply want to live in peace.
Just look at these two little girls cuddling up to this gentle turkey.
When children interact with animals they don’t automatically think that the animal is food. In fact, research shows that many children are actually very confused about the origins of their food, believing things like cheese comes from a plant. Without these realities at the forefront of their mind, children choose to love these farm animals just as they would any other domesticated animal. When we witness scenes like the one in the photo above, it is hard to deny how similar all animals are to each other.
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