Respect is a big lesson many parents focus on teaching kids, and, while respect for elders and other people usually takes priority, it is an excellent time to teach kids the importance of respecting animals as well.
Many kids have pets at home, and because of their amiable relationship with Spot, think all animals are playful friends as well. Respect comes in many ways, and teaching kids about animals can go a long way toward the idea of respect as a whole.
Although zoos have a bit of a rough reputation among certain animal rights groups, many reputable zoos do profound good for the animals they house. Zoos like the Philadelphia Zoo do conservation, prevention and ambassador work. All of the zoo’s animals were bred in captivity and serve some means in population conservation programs. Zoos with these types of programs often make a visible effort to educate guests.
Education about people and creatures in different circumstances can go a long way to giving children new perspectives on things they already have references for, like the concept of animals. Learning about what makes the different animals unique can go a long way toward instilling basic respect. Making children understand that animals are their own beings who do not have to perform for your kids’ entertainment is important.
Travel outside zoos provides a great chance to see wildlife and nature in a less controlled context. National parks are often home to sweeping landscapes and many forms of wildlife. Just because these animals live in the national parks doesn’t mean visitors are likely to see them. An innocent question about the absence of animals can lead to an important conversation about where the animals live and how humans are just visitors in the animals’ homes.
Many of the same lessons for teaching children respect about their parents and peers are applicable to the animal kingdom as well. Lessons to the tune of treating others how you would like to be treated and listening when others are talking can be applied universally.
It is also important to instill in kids the idea animals, while many appear friendly and cuddly, are not anything like the pets at home. Instilling a healthy dose of wariness in kids can go a long way toward keeping them safe and stop them from doing silly things like trying to climb into the different animal’s enclosures or venturing too close to animals in the wild.