This is something I’ve been unsure to write about, because I know it will be something that people may have a strong opinion about. I’m really passionate about animal conservation, it’s one of the major driving forces behind the travels we have planned over the next few years, because I want my children to be passionate about it as well. After all, they belong to the generation we are leaving our planet to and I feel it is important that they understand we share the planet with countless other species.
We watch a lot of animal documentaries in our house and the boys love watching them. We sit together and talk about the different animals, where they live and where appropriate why they won’t be around for much longer without some help to protect them and their habitat. The other day we were watching a documentary about Great White Sharks, Bear is obsessed with sharks at the moment, so he was completely engrossed. During the documentary, there was a clip of a Great White Shark jumping out of the water and catching a seal. I explained that like us, sharks are carnivores and to survive they have to eat other animals, in this case a seal. Bear took it on board, wasn’t phased by it and I didn’t think much of it. That was until I mentioned that we had watched it to a few Mums I know and they looked at me like I had just told them I had let him watch The Chainsaw Massacre.
In my mind I didn’t see anything wrong with Bear watching an animal documentary, I mean the other day we saw a crow eating a smaller bird in the garden, it’s nature. Some animals eat other animals to survive, we eat other animals, to me it seems irresponsible to shield my children from that fact, while feeding them chicken, pig, cow and duck on a daily basis. I’ve always watched animal documentaries, I’ve always had stacks of books about the animal kingdom and I believe, if anything, it has made me more conscious of how delicate our planet and the food chains it supports are. If anything that exposure has driven me to help protect other species and talk about why I do that with my children.
Recently we visited the World Museum in Liverpool, where they have a Natural world exhibit. Part of this exhibit is the recreated scene of a lion chasing a zebra, which lots of parents and young children were stood looking at. We often take trips to Chester zoo, where on occasion we see part of a carcass in the lion enclosure. I mean admittedly it isn’t a devoured wildebeast, but a stripped leg of something, but again people crowd around with their children and watch the lion eat a big slab of meat, without blinking an eye.
I understand and agree that children need to be censored from a number of things in order to preserve their childhood, but it seems irresponsible to shield them from the natural world. To hide them from the reality of what eating meat means, the death of another living, breathing organism. To me it seems an odd notion to stop them understanding the natural world, because if they don’t fully understand it, how will they become passionate about it and if they aren’t passionate about it, will they want to protect it?