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Wildlife Less Life

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

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Pets are dependent on people and need our care. Wild animals are independent of people and behave as if they want only to be free. Children who have learned this difference can accept the death of a wild animal surprisingly wel l. This is especially true if another person is around who reacts calmly with resignation and acceptance.

Death should be dealt with in a matter-of-fact manner. Adults can help children by teaching them in a kind yet realistic way that death is the natural end of every living thing.

Confusing Influences

There are some influences that can block or confuse what seems to be the intuitive acceptance of death that children display. Adults read fairy tales and fanciful stories to children in which animals are portrayed as if they were people. Children watch many Hollywood movies, cartoons and television shows in which fantasy is convincingly presented as if it were reality.

If kids believe these stories, they might easily conclude that animals are emotionally identical to people.

Most kids eventually learn from experience to separate fantasy from reality. Unfortunately, many youngsters today do not have real-life exposure to wild animals.

Such children may grow into adults who react emotionally to the decline and death of every living thing. They do not view a fawn as a fawn; they view it as if it were Bambi. They consider wild mammals to be people wearing fur. Is it any wonder that such people are opposed to deer hunting?

Some people would try to pry a baby bird out of the mouth of a predator in order to save it. They feel so strongly that they are unable to think realistically. But what about the predator? Its life depends on the death of its prey. Life and death are inseparably interwoven in the natural world.

Reason Over Emotion

Everyone doesn't project human emotions and behaviors onto the animals they see around them. Those with scientific minds observe things with more discerning eyes and - young or old - can think realistically about animals.

They observe the behavior of their pets and see that it is different from human behavior. They see that wild animals don't behave like their pets. They try to understand and accept life and death on its own terms. Why can these people accept what others cannot?

The answer lies in their experience. They have been exposed to reality. Perhaps as children they watched wildlife shows on public television or

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