Teach your kids patience, love and tolerance for animals this summer with fun activities that support the proper care and treatment of wildlife.
With social awareness of animal mistreatment and cruelty on the rise, it’s important that families participate in activities that promote the proper treatment of our furry friends. We asked People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Communication Administrator Jinnine Pak to shed some light on activities for the whole family to enjoy this summer.
Parenting OC: Could you suggest venues that offer a wholesome animal encounter?
Jinnine Pak: Instead of attending a circus that uses animals, attend a circus that highlights only human performers that choose to show off their talents. There are animal-free circuses across North America, including Cirque du Soleil, Lazer Vaudeville and Circus Luminous.
POC: How are families able to observe animals without supporting institutions that uproot wildlife from natural habitats?
JP: Observe animals in their natural environment by watching documentaries at home or attending IMAX films about animals—or visit a true sanctuary for exotic or formerly farmed animals. You can also see wild animals where they belong: in the wild. Spend the day at the beach. Go snorkeling, hiking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, bird watching—the sky is the limit!
POC: How can families be sure that the sanctuaries are not breeding or mistreating animals?
JP: Make sure that the sanctuaries you visit are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, which maintains strict standards for its member organizations. Beware of pseudo-sanctuaries that don’t provide adequate care for their animals.
POC: What events and venues can you suggest families to skip this summer?
JP: Skip out on “sports” that use and even kill animals, such as bullfights, horse racing, and rodeos. These violent events teach kids that there’s nothing wrong with hurting others for fun—and they can be dangerous for spectators when terrorized animals run into the crowd.
POC: The documentary “Blackfish” highlighted the mistreatment of the animals at SeaWorld. How does your organization feel about the park and their treatment of wildlife?
JP: Twenty-one orcas died in U.S. SeaWorld facilities between 1986 and 2008—an average of nearly one each year—and not one died of old age. Severe trauma, intestinal gangrene, acute hemorrhagic pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, chronic kidney disease, chronic cardiovascular failure, septicemia, and influenza caused their deaths. The orcas at SeaWorld swim endless circles in small barren concrete tanks, are forced to perform circus-style tricks, and typically live far short of the 60-year maximum life span. Orcas and other dolphins endure lives of boredom, stress and loneliness when confined to small tanks at SeaWorld.
POC: What is the organization’s response to children who innocently capture tadpoles, butterflies, etc.?
JP: PETA never condones capturing animals from the wild.
POC: How does the organization feel about the adoption or purchase of household pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.?
JP: PETA always encourages everyone to adopt—and never buy—animals. There are some opportunities to adopt animals such as rabbits from shelters, but as with a cat or dog, having a companion animal is an enormous responsibility, and it’s important for the entire family to treat a companion animal with the same love, respect and tenderness that any other member of the family receives.
POC: How can parents educate their children on the importance of kindness towards animals?
JP: With books, literature, coloring books and video games widely available—the options are endless for how to teach kids compassion for animals. Just as important as teaching children compassion for their fellow humans, teaching kids compassion for all animals should be on every parent’s to-do list.
By Jacqueline Clark