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.