My sister who is an animal lover recently watched a horrific grizzly hunt that somehow made its way into her Facebook feed and it totally disturbed her so much even days after she saw it that she told me not to watch it-EVER. She described it as the story of a beautiful trapped bear who tried to do everything it could to save its own life and then the hunters killed it atrociously while laughing and filming it while it died. And this happened in real life because some people wanted a grizzly trophy.
I told my kids about it-a not so ghastly version-just the fact that I was sad that some people had killed a grizzly bear. My kids want to be “animal rescuers” one day, like their heroes Leslie and Jorge at the Toucan Rescue Ranch and Sharon at the Belize Zoo. A lot of that is because we’ve talked about loving animals since they were really little and we’ve visited zoos around the world. A lot of that is because I was scared when I found out I was having boys that my boys would not be gentle or care about animals unless we taught them how wonderful and beautiful animals are and how we have to treat them with love and kindness. (Have you seen the toys aimed at boys? How many of them have guns and weapons and angry faces on them?)
Why would anyone want to kill a bear? they asked sadly.
Why would anyone want to kill any animal for fun?
And I have no idea why. There are too many animals dying for ‘sport’ and it is truly horrible and wrong.
When we want to see animals up close we visit the ones that serve as ambassadors at our local zoo, the world-class Woodland Park Zoo. (And world class is true! Every where we’ve been, when we talk to people in the zoo industry, I hear so many fabulous things about our Seattle zoo and how helpful they are in the world of animal conservation!) These are rescued animals who can’t be released back in the wild but can give my kids real life connections to the amazing creatures in the big world around them so that they CAN care.
We brings snacks and wait in our favorite spots and we can sit for a while chatting, snacking and hanging out together.
Sometimes we only get a glimpse.
It is pure magic.
But the only shots and souvenirs we take are photographs. And every time we visit we feel a little more connected to an animal and we feel even more passionate about protecting its home in the wild.
Do you have a rescue center or zoo in your town that helps kids learn about animal conservation? How do you help connect kids with animals and nature? I’d love to hear!
(PS. there really isn’t a good way to see a wild bear up close. We recently visited the North Island Wildlife Rescue Centre on Vancouver Island. This is a rescue center known for rescuing black bears and releasing them back to the wild. While we were at the center there were twin bear cubs receiving treatment and the only way to see them was via webcam because if the bear cubs got comfortable with humans watching them, they would not be able to go back to the wild. So I was really glad that we didn’t see them on display.)