Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why I like Zoos

Over the last couple of years, because of the work Ive been involved in with wild horses, and animal aid overseas, I've been asked why I don't join organisation like PETA, or people assume i wouldn't like Zoo's pet shops or other things that use animals for money. It's actually just the opposite I dislike PETA and their approach to animal rights, and I'm definitely pro zoos and anything that helps get the general public involved with animals.

Yesterday at our local country show,I had my pony there, Matariki with one of my pupils riding, but I also got to look around the show a bit. The place I first went to was the animal tent, the same place I've gone straight to for the last fifteen years since  i was a little girl. There's will be a couple of animals for sale, like rabbits, chickens,pigs and an area for where kids can go and hold all the baby animals. As usual the place was packed, kids sat on hay bales and held ducklings, chicks, big soft angora bunnies, fed bottles of milk to lambs and scratched pigs bellies. Grandparents and parents alike stood around taking cute photos. Town kids got to interact with animals, have a fun day out, and all of it was supervised by the people who ran the tent.

I still remember even though not being a town kid loving this place, interacting with all the animals was a highlight if the year for me.

So when someone spoke out and complained of animal cruelty, and how horrific this was, that it should be stopped, I was not impressed. First of all the animals do this one day a year, they have constant supervision and are kept cool fed and watered all day, yes it's loud, different and a bit stressful at first for them. But animals are pretty amazing they adapt quick, I did not see a single animal in distress there. I did see a while bunch of happy kids learning about animals.

Here's the thing, people need to learn to love animals at a young age, if they don't love them, they will never be involved in their welfare or salvation, and they only love them by interacting and learning about them.

The sad fact of the world is that if animals are not important to us, and don't have a role to play in our society they will go extinct. The reason that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens are not facing extinction is that they are useful to us, we have a vested interest in saving them. Cats and dogs to play an important role in our society, and are therefore not on the endangered animals list either. Mountain gorillas, elephants, sharks are not animals we interact with, they are definetly on the edge of survival and extinction. They live in far off lands and therefore we are less likely to be involved in saving them...what if we got to play with these animals as kids, would it be a different story?

Furthermore learning  about animals is important, it teaches you empathy, understanding and how to be compassionate for something not the same as you. You can watch kids learn it, is the animal wiggling and squirming? Don't hold it that way. It's simple little things like this that kids learn that these creatures have emotions and feeling like us. 

My love of animals was instilled at a young age. I went on to work with them for a living, saving the wild horses because I was passionate about them, and traveled the world because i want to improve the lives of animals and people and encourage them to understand our furred and feathered friends.

I still remember my day as a kid at the country show, trips to the Zoo and endless hours gazing at fish in pet shops.

All this inspired me to love the living world and those that occupy it. More than anything I want further generations to love it. I want the kids that ride horses I've trained from the wild, to be the ones that adopt and train them in future years. The kids that held angora bunnies yesterday, need to help preserve rare species. All those people who remember going to the Zoo will hopefully help save some of those species that are vanishing in the wild.

So when PETA is against owning pets, when old ladies  get there knickers in a knot about some bunnies at a country show, and when people don't want to take kids to Zoos, don't ask for my support. If I had my way I'd expose people to as many animals as possible and encourage all children to learn and understand everything from the smallest chick to the biggest elephants.

It is today's  children that will be saving tomorrows animals.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Matariki goes to his first show

From the horse that had such a terrible to captivity before being rescued by KHH and sent to me, Matariki has turned out to be a star. 

A horse that truly enjoys people's company, he went to a show today with one of my pupils riding him. His second show ever and the first time the girl had even ridden him. He was a star and genuinely loved people coming up to pat him, and being part of the action.

Here are some pictures

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I got a phone call today that made me sad. A Kaimanawa horse that attacked people. How does it come to the point where a wild horse just attacks at the mere prescience of people. 

To cut a long story short the women had picked up this horse, a young filly, along with another and brought it home. Only to find that when you went in the paddock with the young horse it ran and attacked. Teeth bared, threatening to bite kick, and drive you off. This wasn't actually a truly wild horse, its mother had been mustered pregnant and given birth once in captivity. So really even less understandable its reactions.

The women, a friend didn't want it, for obvious reasons, who wants a savage horse? Knowing that I've worked with these horses and have a soft spot for our wild horses she rang to see if I wanted it. 

Sometimes I don't know what comes over me. The obvious answer was no, I didn't want it. I don't need another mouth to feed, more expenses, more work and a horse that I will make no money on and is to young to break in to ride and have any use what so ever. The words than popped out of my mouth was "yes, I'll take it"

Instant regret. But as soon as the words came out there was no going back. Sounds like I have myself a new challenge, albeit one I didn't need. But to be honest I'm intrigued how did an animal end up trying to savage people, can it be fixed, can I be the one to do it? I'm sure ill find out soon enough and have plenty of time to rue the decision at great length, I pick the horse up next week.

This wasn't the first, nor will it be the last phone call of this sort I receive. I've heard and dealt with many stories of savage horses. In India I was almost killed by the only truly savage horse I've ever come across.

A stallion that had known such brutality at the hands of man he had gone rogue as a means to survive. I didn't believe the guys at the rescue when they told me how bad he was, and almost payed the price when he went out of his way to run me down teeth bared and tore my hat off me head when I waved my arms to scare off his charge. I was lucky it wasn't my scalp. I listen and handle these cases with a healthy dose of caution these days.

Hopefully this little filly won't be as bad. It makes me sad though to hear of horses like this though, because somewhere along the line something has gone wrong. Horses are naturally this way, they are not happy like this, these behaviours are man made, and usually the horse is the one who pays the ultimate price for our mistakes.