Some circuses still use elephants, tigers, chimpanzees, horses, bears and even dogs and cats to entertain crowds. Have you ever been to a circus? Were there animals there? Although some circuses still use animals, many others don't because they don't think we need to see animals performing tricks to enjoy ourselves. Instead, they have clowns, trapeze artists and acrobats.
Some people think it's OK to use animals in circuses; other people think it is very cruel to make animals perform.
A person who thinks it's OK to make animals perform in circuses might say...
"People like to see animals do tricks."
"Animal trainers treat animals well and think of the animals as family."
"Animals wouldn't do tricks in the circus if they didn't want to. They love performing!"
"The animals are kept healthy and safe. They are better off in the circus than in the wild."
"Kids learn a lot about animals at the circus."
Someone who thinks making animals do tricks in the circus is wrong might say...
"Circuses might be fun for you, but they are not fun for animals. They do not enjoy doing tricks; they are forced to do them. If they don't do them right, they are punished."
"While the circus is traveling, animals are locked in cages. They don't get much exercise. Some animals aren't allowed to walk or run around at all."
"Animals in circuses get lonely and want to spend time with other animals like themselves."
"Some circus trainers beat and whip animals."
"There are lots of circuses that don't use animals. Those are great fun for everyone!"
"Kids don't learn much about animals by watching them in the circus. To really learn about animals, we need to see how they act in their natural homes."
Think About It
1. Think about how you would feel if you lived in a cage. Would you be happy? Would you be sad and lonely? Why or why not?
2. Do you think animals have fun at the circus? Why or why not?
Fish are wonderful animals. And they are smarter and have better memories than you might expect!
Fish can recognize each other in their shoal, and they keep an eye out to see which fish are friends with each other. They also use tools, build large nests and talk to one another, just like we talk to our friends. We use words, but they express themselves by using sounds like grunts, clicks and roars and by changing color. Wouldn't it be great if we could do that?!
Like birds, fish need their freedom. In nature, they swim around in oceans, rivers and lakes. To them, a fishbowl must feel like a prison. Fish are not happy or healthy living in fishbowls. If you have fish, it is very important to give them a large tank with lots of interesting things to do and real plants, rocks and toys. The tank or aquarium should have clean gravel on the bottom, a filter to keep the water clean and an air pump to make sure the water stays healthy. Fish should be fed once a day with food that is right for them. When you clean the tank out, be very careful not to change the water temperature.
If you keep fish in an outdoor pond, make sure that it's a large pond with plants. The water should be kept clean, so take out any leaves that fall in. The pond should be cleaned out once a year, and if the water freezes, the ice should be gently melted.
You can hurt fish just by touching them, so if you need to move them, use a net and be as gentle as possible.
Fish need friends, so experts think that it's best not to keep a fish alone. And remember that goldfish can live to be 25 years old - that's a big commitment!
Did you know that fish never close their eyes? Or that some fish hide their babies inside their mouths? It's true! At the first sign of danger, they open their mouths and let their babies swim inside! Fish have very sharp vision and can also smell, touch, feel and taste, just like us. Plus, they can sense light, chemicals, vibrations and electricity. Fish have taste buds on their lips, tongues and all over their mouths. Some fish have whiskers that can taste, too, so they can taste their food before it even reaches their mouths! How great is that?!
Because fish look so different from us, many people don't realize that they feel pain, too! Scientists tell us that being hooked hurts. Just like you can't breathe for very long under water, fish can't breathe when they're out of water. Even fish who are thrown back into the water often die from their injuries.
Some people think that angling is fun or that it's OK because fish taste good, but others say that it is wrong to hurt fish.
An angler might say …
"There are lots of reasons to go fishing: It's fun, it's good to be out in the fresh air, and it can be exciting."
"Fish don't feel pain. The hooks don't hurt them!"
"Angling helps keep rivers and riverbanks clean and tidy."
Someone who thinks fishing is wrong might say …
"There are lots of fun ways to spend time in nature without hurting fish: swimming, cycling, bird-watching, kite-flying, climbing trees or having a picnic."
"Scientists know that fish feel pain, just like people do. It's a fact!"
"Angling hurts other animals, too. Anglers often leave behind hooks or fishing line that can hurt birds and other animals who get caught in it."
Think About It
1. What do you think about angling?
2. What things can you do to enjoy the outdoors without hurting fish?
Have you ever wondered about a career working with animals?
From being a veterinarian or wildlife specialist to working in television and creating programs about animals, there are numerous ways you can make a difference for animals in your lifetime.
People who work with animals can have a variety of backgrounds. Usually, one requirement is a great love of animals and a concern for their well being. People who are interested in a career working with animals might take classes in biology, zoology, animal behavior, and animal health sciences in college. Certain careers, such as those working in veterinary fields, require an extensive medical education.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Your career should make you happy and reflect what you want to give back to the world. People who care for animals can choose from several different career paths.
Animal behaviorists learn and observe how animals relate to each other and to people. While an animal behaviorist may work in a variety of animal-related settings, like a zoo or an aquarium, some animal behaviorists work at animal shelters or assist companion animal guardians with animal behavior problems. In this role, the animal behaviorist helps the companion animal by helping the human companion better understand why animals do the things they do. Why does a dog jump on people? Why is the cat not using the litter box? And what can be done to change this behavior. Animal behaviorists may also help shelters identify good-natured animals that should be placed for adoption and work with other animals that might need a little more training before being placed in a good home. This job requires an extensive education in animal behavior. Animal Care Attendants
Animal care attendants provide the actual day-to-day care for the shelter animals. They clean kennels, provide food and water to the animals, and may administer medications. It’s a very hands-on job that puts you in direct contact with animals everyday. Some shelters look for volunteers to assist with these duties. It’s a great way to get started working for shelters.
Animal Control Agency Directors
An animal control agency director runs a shelter that is funded by the city. They help animals too, providing many of the same services as a humane society. The biggest difference is that animal control agencies are concerned with public safety. They protect people from health risks and the dangers that stray and lose animals can cause to people in the community. They often represent the agency at public functions and manage the overall daily operations of the facility.
Animal Shelter Veterinarians
An animal shelter veterinarian treats sick or injured animals or provides well-care exams for the animals at the shelter. They are responsible for the individual care of all the shelter animals as well as the health and well-being of the entire shelter population. Shelter veterinarians make sure that the animals coming into the shelter don’t spread diseases to other animals in the shelter. They often spay and neuter adopted companion animals to insure they won’t contribute to the companion animal population problem. The job requires an extensive education, including veterinary school.
Adoption counselors help people find the right companion animal for their family’s lifestyle. They have to learn about the potential adopter’s needs as well as the various personalities of all the animals available for adoption. Making the right match helps ensure that an animal has found a permanent home and won’t be returned to the animal shelter. This job is good for someone who likes to work with both people and animals.
Cruelty investigators respond to complaints about people who may be hurting or neglecting their animals. They may work with an animal shelter, animal control facility, or police department handling animal cruelty investigations. Investigators can usually enforce cruelty laws by making arrests or giving citations if only a minor law is broken. Cruelty investigators are like animal detectives. They have to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors collect evidence to prepare an animal cruelty case for trial. This job usually requires training in law enforcement and investigation techniques.
Fundraising specialists help organize special events to raise money for animal shelters and organizations. Animal organizations can’t operate or care for the animals without money to support their programs and services. Animal control agencies usually receive money from the city budget, while humane societies survive on contributions from the community. Fundraising specialists are important to keep the work of the agency going. This job is great for a person who likes to organize events and enjoys working with people.
Humane educators present programs to youth and adults on various humane topics, including companion animal responsibility, bite prevention, and kindness to animals. Their role is to educate the public and affect the community’s view and behavior towards animals. These presentations are often given in schools, at business club meetings, or at the shelter. Teachers or people who have worked in classrooms and are comfortable speaking before groups often fill these jobs.
Humane officers (also known as animal care and control officers) respond to calls about animals that are sick, injured, or neglected. Humane officers must have a good understanding of animal control laws and anti-cruelty laws, since they help educate the public on the responsible care of animals. This job requires some lifting, as humane officers frequently have to transport large or injured animals to the shelter.
Humane Society Directors
A humane society director runs an animal shelter where the ultimate goal is to insure the humane care and treatment of the animals. The director supervises staff and ensures that the shelter’s programs and services are helping homeless animals. They also have to find individuals and donors to donate to the agency, since humane societies are funded entirely by private donations. This job usually requires a lot of people skills, as the director usually works more with people in the community than the animals in the shelter.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists work with the media to inform the community about the work of animal organizations as well as important issues related to the humane care and treatment of animals. They usually write press releases, newsletters, and other promotional materials to help get the word out on the agency. This is a great job for people who love to write, give media interviews, and speak to the public.
Shelter managers generally oversee all the activities associated with the daily care and maintenance of the animal shelter and shelter staff. They might handle receiving animals, making sure they are given health checks and vaccinations. Or they may work with the human clients that come into the shelter to adopt or surrender an animal. This job requires supervisory skills and an interest in working with both people and animals.
Some veterinary technicians work at animal shelters, but most work at veterinary hospitals. Their job involves direct contact with both animals and people. Mostly, they assist veterinarians in caring for injured or sick animals or providing healthy animals with well-check ups. They may handle doing lab tests or preparing the operating room for surgery. This job does not require the special education needed to become a veterinarian, but special classes or specific experience with animals can make you more qualified to handle these responsibilities.
A volunteer coordinators job is to find volunteers that want to donate time to help animal organizations. Volunteer coordinators oversee the scheduling and daily activities of these volunteers for the organization’s special events or daily operations. Often volunteers can only come for a few hours a week or month, so the coordinator has to find lots of volunteers to help cover all the available time slots. Some animal organizations have hundreds of volunteers; some have only a handful of volunteers. But most all animal organizations depend heavily on volunteers.
One final note: If you are interested in working with animals, you can begin before you are out of school by volunteering at a local humane society. Your volunteer work will give you exposure to many different species of animals while performing a great community service at the same time. Also read books on animal careers to see how your interests and concern for animals might become a lifelong career.
Have you ever been to a zoo? There are lots of zoos. Some take better care of animals than others, but no zoo can make animals feel like they are at home.
Some people think it's OK to keep animals in zoos; others say that it's wrong to take animals from their homes in the wild.
A zoo supporter might say …
"The zoo is a great place to learn about animals."
"If kids don't see animals up close like they do at the zoo, they won't like them, appreciate them or want to help them."
"Zoos help animals make babies (called "breeding") so they won't become extinct."
"Zoos take good care of animals. When animals get hurt or sick, an animal doctor called a vet makes them better straight away. In the wild, sick animals would die."
"Animals are safe in zoos. They won't starve or be killed by other animals."
A person who thinks it's not fair to keep animals in zoos might say …
"Zoos don't teach us much about animals because the animals there don't act the way they would in the forest, jungle or ocean, where they belong. We can learn more about animals by reading books or watching wildlife programs on TV."
"Zoos that help animals breed just keep the babies or sell them. If they cared about stopping animals from becoming extinct, they would set the babies free in the wild."
"Animals are not happy in zoos. They want to be free to walk, run, fly, climb, hunt and have families. They don't want their babies to be taken away from them and put in a different cage or sold to a different zoo. They get angry and frustrated because they cannot leave the zoo, which makes them do strange things like pace up and down, lick the bars of their cages, rock back and forth and bob their heads. Scientists know that these things mean that the animals are very unhappy."
"When a zoo doesn't want an animal anymore, the animal gets killed or sold to another zoo and might have to travel far away in a train or airplane."
Think About It
1. Would you rather live in a zoo or in your home with your family? Why?
2. What kinds of things do animals need to be happy? Do you think animals in zoos get all these things? Why or why not?
3. Think about animals you've seen at the zoo. Do you think there is somewhere else they would rather be? Something else they would rather be doing? Why or why not?
Kids can help save the planet and its animals. Here are some easy ways to help animals at school:
Start An Animal Club
Find out what needs to be done in your community to help animals and get going! Your club doesn’t have to start off big. Begin with a few friends who think like you do and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Make posters of animals available for adoption at the shelter. Create bookmarks with humane messages to sell and raise funds. Volunteer to help clean cages or walk the animals at your shelter. Produce a newspaper or newsletter about animals for kids in your school. Educate your classmates through skits with animal messages.
Write To Officials
Write to local, state, and federal government officials about animal issues you read about in the newspaper or hear on the news. Ask your teacher or librarian to help you locate the names and addresses of your government officials.
Plant trees and shrubs on your school grounds to give area bird life a welcome place to hang out.
Put out a bird feeder during the winter. The winter months are when birds need your help the most.
Projects & Volunteering
Suggest a special class project where you clean up a nearby habitat, like a stream or park. Or volunteer to clean up and beautify the grounds of your local animal shelter.
Books To Display
Ask your librarian to select books about animals to be displayed.
Books To Read
Learn all you can about animals. Check your library for publications and books about companion animals and wildlife.
Use your computer to find articles and other resources about animal behavior and care.
Share what you know about animals with others.
Seek Out Fun Facts
Where do frogs go in the winter? Why do cats purr? Why do dogs walk around in circles before lying down? When you find the answers to these questions you’ll be on your way to becoming the “animal expert” at your school.
Arrange for speakers to come to your school. Ask animal professionals to speak to your class, youth group, or school about their work. Some possible speakers include humane educators, animal control officers, veterinarians, museum curators, zoo educators, or wildlife rehabilitators. Explore Humane Issues
What do you think about animals used in research and science? Does your school require you to dissect an animal in order to pass biology? How about using animals in entertainment, like the circus or the rodeo? Perhaps you can write a report or give a presentation to your class or school concerning these issues.
Express your appreciation and love of animals and nature through art. Paint a picture or create a collage of what animals need to remain healthy and happy. Sculpt your favorite animal out of clay. Create a mural of a habitat for a wall inside your school.
Kids can help save the planet and its animals. Here are some easy ways to help animals at home:
Create Space In Your Yard For Wildlife
Ask your parents to help you plant shrubs and trees in your backyard that provide food and shelter for birds and other critters.
Attract Winged Wildlife To Your Yard
Help your parents put a bird feeder and bird bath in your yard during the winter when food and water are more scarce. Create a hummingbird or butterfly garden to attract these winged creatures. Learn about the colors and smells that attract these creatures to your yard.
Watch what happens to animals and their environment during the changing seasons. Birds, for example, build nests in the spring, feed and protect their young during the summer, and often migrate south in the fall for the winter.
Save kitchen scraps for the compost pile. Put leftover vegetables, coffee grinds, and eggshells on your compost pile to create rich soil that plants and animals will want to live in. Make sure you have an established compost pile in your yard before you do this. If you don't, ask a parent to help you start one.
Ask your parents not to use harmful chemicals in your garden or home.
Ask your parents to use humane traps that don’t kill unwanted animals, like mice.
Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth and use water-saving devices on your toilets, taps, and showerheads.
Ask your parents to buy products and goods without extra packaging. Extra packaging takes up more space in landfills and reduces habitat areas for wildlife.
Don’t throw things away; give them away. Recycle your toys, books, and games by donating them to a hospital, daycare nursery school, or children’s charity.
Recycle everything — newspapers, cans, glass, aluminum foil and pans, motor oil, scrap metal.
Be A Responsible Companion Animal Guardian
Spay or neuter your companion animals and keep an identification tag on them so if they get lost they can be returned to you. Also, make sure your companion animals get proper vet care.
Make sure your companion animals are a part of the family. Make time everyday to play with your animal friends.
Cut-up soft drink six-pack rings. The rings often get caught around the necks of birds and sea mammals.
Don’t litter. Throw all your trash away!
Don’t pick flowers or collect wild creatures for "pets." Leave animals and plants where you found them.
Don’t buy souvenirs made from animals. Animal parts are often used to make souvenirs and other trinkets. Sometimes animal parts like ivory, which comes from elephant tusks, are formed into other shapes to make jewelry and other items. If you are unsure, ask someone who works in the store.
Watch out for wildlife. Give consideration to all living things you see crossing the road.
Stay on the trail in parks and nature preserves. By staying on the path, you’ll won’t be treading on animal homes.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Be on the lookout for animals that may need your help. Report injured dogs and cats that you find to animal control and injured wildlife to a wildlife rehabilitation center or local Division of Wildlife so that they can be rescued.
Avoid “animals in entertainment” such as rodeo, horse races, dog races, roadside zoos, animal pulls and traveling shows in which animals are often neglected or abused.
Never purchase wild parrots or other exotic animals as "pets." Few people can care for a parrot for its entire lifetime, which is anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Wild animals belong in the wild.
Don’t purchase a dog or cat from a pet store. Instead adopt an unwanted animal from the shelter.
If you feel strongly about an issue or event affecting animals, write a letter to the newspaper expressing your views. Kid’s views are important too!
Keep your cat indoors to protect them from traffic and unkind people — and to keep them from hunting area wildlife, especially songbirds.
Ostrich mothers lay their eggs in a communal nest, allowing the eggs and young to all be cared for by one bonded pair; up to 380 chicks have been seen being escorted by loving parents.
Mother cheetahs become so exhausted from tending to their boisterous youngsters that they are known to fall asleep while stalking prey.
Giant South African bullfrogs are devoted fathers who have attacked lions and elephants while defending tadpoles.
Ravens and crows like to play and have been observed sliding down snow banks on their backs, cavorting in updrafts and sliding repeatedly down sloping church windows.
Much of elephants’ complex language is based on infrasound—below the level of human hearing---and enables separated family members to communicate with each other over vast distances.
Parrots cannot bear to be alone; While most mate for life, all live in large social groups, sometimes with multiple species of birds.
Pigeons are actually domesticated rock doves who were set free. They are marvelous parents: the father builds the nest, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and even making milk in their crops for the young.
Bees alert other hive members to food and new home locations and to conditions within their own hive (such as nectar supply) through intricate “dance” movements.
Mother squirrels are so protective of their babies that they kick the fathers out of the nests for the spring and summer, but may allow them back to bunk with the family during winter.
Wood roaches are monogamous, raise one group of children, and live in one log for their entire life.
Alaskan buffalo have been observed charging down hills and sliding across icy ponds, bellowing with delight, and then climbing back up the hill to do it again.
Opossums, who are marsupials, are great at insect control; a neighborhood with opossums is less buggy than one without.
Some male frogs in the rainforest, who send messages by drumming with their feet are the sole caretakers of their young. After the mother lays eggs, the father guard s the nest and carries his kids on his back.
Orphaned chimpanzees are adopted by their aunts, older siblings, or other members of their tribe who teach them how to find natural antibiotics, avoid poisonous plants, and build tree nests.
Baboons are very family-oriented and have conducted “sit-ins,” blocked traffic, and thrown rocks at cars after their youngsters were struck and killed by vehicles.
Prairie dogs speak to one another in a complex language which includes nouns and verbs that has different dialects depending on where they’re from.
Desert rats do not sweat or pant. They get their water by collecting seeds, burying them until they’ve dried out, and then using them as sponges to gather humidity from the air.
Ringed seals build snow caves above their breathing holes in the ice to protect their young from predators.
Octopuses collect bottle caps, attractive stones and other finds from the ocean floor and decorate their dens with them, repositioning an object if it doesn’t seen to suit the design.
Dolphins crave physical attention and will stroke each other with their flippers.
Emperor penguins are the only Antarctic animals that have babies during the winter. Since there are no bedding materials, fathers use their feet and chest to keep the eggs warm.
Mantis shrimp are believed to have the most sophisticated eyes of any animal on Earth. They are also the only known sea animal to use fluorescence as a form of communication.
Some fish protect their babies by opening their mouths and letting the babies swim inside until the predator has passed by.
Squid can change their body color and texture to not only blend in to their surroundings, but to convey different messages on both sides of their bodies, such as projecting a mating color on one side and warning off a predator on the other.
Fish live in groups with social hierarchies. They are able to recognize individual family members, form bonds with other fish, cooperate and even tell time.
Lobsters have the same 9 month gestation period as humans.
Pigs wag their tails when they’re happy, and mother pigs in nature build nests from twigs to give birth in.
Mother cows have crashed fences and traveled for miles to reunite with calves sold to other farms.
Pigs like good sleeping weather: when given the chance, they adjust the thermostat to keep their environment at 80 degrees during the day and at 60 degrees at night.
Every sheep has a different face, and flockmates can recognize each other, even from photographs and even if they’ve been separated for years.
When presented with a round object like a melon ball, groups of turkeys and chickens will toss it around for fun, much like they’re playing football.
Chickens have 24 distinct cries to communicate to one another, including separate alarm calls depending on what kind of predator is threatening them.
The leader of a flock of sheep is usually the oldest and wisest sheep, not the biggest or strongest.
A bond between a chicken and her chick begins a day before the egg hatches; the baby will make peeping noises from inside the shell and the mother will respond in soothing tones.
Geese mate for life and grieve for a long time. if one is killed the other may mourn the loss forever and never remarry.
Dogs study human faces to read our expressions, which help them communicate with their guardians and anticipate their guardians’ plans.
A typical cat spends over 10,000 hours of his or her life purring.
When truly content, rabbits will softly grind their molars in a way that makes them sound like a cats purring.
You know how excited your dogs are when you come home from school? They have probably spent all day waiting to see you. What do you do when you see them?
Rush straight past them, and leave the house again without them.
Pat them on the head and tell them that you'll play with them later.
Grab a ball, put on their leads and head straight to the park for fun and frolicking.
You are their best friend, and they love to spend time with you, just like you love to spend time with your best friend. So why not include them in your games? They'll have a great time, and you'll know that you are being a best friend to them, too.
Whether you share your home with a dog or a goldfish or two, it's important that you look after them very, very well. They depend on you and your family to give them the things they need and to do what it takes to give them good lives - fun stuff like playing and taking walks in the park as well as not-so-fun stuff like keeping their bedding clean and making sure they have enough good food and fresh water. If we forget to do any of these things, they can get hungry or thirsty, become sad and lonely or feel sick. And no one wants to hurt his or her best friend!
Dogs and cats used to live in the wild. Now we say they are 'domesticated' because they live with humans. People believe that dogs were domesticated 15,000 years ago, when humans in Asia took wolf cubs away from their packs. Years of living with humans have changed the way dogs think - even puppies know how to 'read' people and understand what they're saying. Perhaps we ought to learn how to 'read' dogs better, too!
Cats were first domesticated about 9,500 years ago. People in the Far East thought cats brought good luck, but today, cats who are left to fend for themselves outside need all the luck they can get just to survive.
All animals need the following things:
Fresh, clean water
Freedom to run and play safely
Friends (no animal wants to be lonely)
If you live with an animal, it's a good idea to go over this list every day to make sure that your companion has everything that he or she needs to be happy and healthy.
Think about the animals in your life. Could you be doing more to make them happy and help them safely satisfy their natural instincts? For example, many dogs like to sniff everything in their paths during walks - they get their daily news by sniffing the lamp posts and tree trunks. Do you yank your dog - 'Hurry up!' - or do you let him or her sniff away and find out what's new in the neighborhood? And cats want and need to scratch. Do your cats have a scratching post or do they get yelled at when they try to stretch their claws on the couch?
'I want an animal!' Have you ever said this to your mom or dad? People keep animals because they want to, but properly looking after an animal means giving love and care all the time. Animals give us great pleasure and lots of love, and we must give something back: a safe, caring and loving home.
Living with an animal can be a lot of work! Some people find out that keeping an animal is too much trouble, and they decide that they don't want the responsibility. Can you think of any reasons why people might decide that they don't want their cat or dog or bunny anymore? Sometimes, people discover that their new animal companion molts too much (this means the animal leaves fur everywhere), smells, barks too much, claws the furniture or makes them sneeze.
Is it fair to throw an animal out of the house for those reasons? Where do animals go when they aren't wanted anymore? Some animals end up at animal shelters, and someone else might decide to take them home and love them.
Think About It
1. How do you feel about keeping animals in cages?
2. Is it right to keep an animal if he or she isn't happy?
3. How important is it that you put the needs of your animal companion first?
4. Should everyone be allowed to look after an animal?
5. What are the seven things you should make sure your companion animal has?
Mountain gorillas, blue whales, komodo dragons and some types of bears are dying off. And it's not just animals who live in far-off countries who are in danger.
Do you know what it means if an animal is "endangered"? It means that there are not many of that type of animal left in the world, and one day, they might all be gone, which is called becoming "extinct". Dinosaurs, for example, are extinct.
How do animals become extinct?
They lose their habitat, which means that there's nowhere for them to live. For example, many animals make their homes in the rain forests that are being cut down. Once all the trees are gone, there will be nowhere for these animals to live, so they will die.
Some animals, like chimpanzees, are becoming extinct because people kill them to eat them.
Animals are taken from the wild and sent to circuses and zoos, leaving fewer animals in nature to carry on the species.
Some people shoot animals for fun. This is called "big game hunting", and if enough animals are killed this way, some animals could become extinct.
Elephants are taken from the wild and forced to drag heavy machines to help people cut down forests. This is called "logging".
Think About It
1. Think about ways that people can help endangered animals. Is there anything you can do?
2. Do you care whether or not an animal becomes extinct? Why or why not?
3. If a species is not considered "endangered", should we still protect that species?
We know that dogs, cats and rabbits are intelligent and sensitive, but some people forget that “exotic” animals like snakes and lizards are intelligent and sensitive, too.
Research has shown that snakes quickly learn about their environment and that reptiles communicate with one another in a number of ways. But their intelligence is often overlooked, and many captive reptiles live alone, without one of their own kind to communicate with. Snakes, spiders, lizards and iguanas have very special needs and must have the right temperature, humidity level and amount of light.
Some snakes live for more than 20 years and grow taller than adults. They need lots of special care, along with fresh water, the right temperature, special treatments to keep them safe from bugs like mites and large, spic-and-span tanks.
Green iguanas also need a lot of care. Many people find out too late that they can’t take good care of an iguana. When that happens, many lizards are given away or left outside alone. Iguanas can live for more than 20 years and grow to be 2 meters long! If an iguana is kept in a cage, the cage must be really big with controlled temperatures and a special kind of light called “ultraviolet light”. Iguanas also have a very special diet. If they aren’t given the right food, they can easily die. Do you think an iguana would rather live in a cage or in the forest?
So you see, “exotic” animals have very special needs that many people don’t understand or appreciate. If you are keen to take care of an animal like this, think hard. Be sure that you are considering what is best for your new future friend and not just thinking about what you want. If you do lots of research and your family completely understands and accepts the special care a lizard, turtle or iguana needs, contact your local rescue center to find out if the type of animal you want is available. If not, why not give a good home to a different kind of animal instead?
What do you know about mice? Did you know that mice in the wild can leap and climb trees? Or that one type of mouse called a harvest mouse builds a nest of woven grass attached to stalks or reeds above the ground? Did you know that dormice can lower their body temperature to save energy when it's cold or when there isn't much food around. It's all true! Now that's amazing!
Rats are also very intelligent animals who have very sharp hearing and a good sense of smell. They are good swimmers and climbers and like to live in groups. People who look after domestic rats say that rats are affectionate and gentle and that they are very keen explorers!
Did you know that some medicines and even some of the shampoos, soaps and other products your mom or dad might use to clean the house are tried out on mice, rats and other animals to see if the animals get hurt when eating or touching them? For example, rats might have to eat washing powder to see what happens to them, and rabbits might have to have toilet cleaner rubbed on their bare skin to see whether they get a rash.
Even cats and dogs are used to try medicines before people can buy them. Animals either die during the tests from being fed too much medicine or soap, or they are killed after the tests.
Some people think that it's a good idea to test on animals; others say that it's wrong.
Someone who thinks it is OK to test things on animals might say …
"Using animals is a good way to find out whether products like polish, shampoo and medicines are safe for people to use. At least no humans get hurt!"
Someone who thinks it is wrong to use animals like this might say …
"It is not right to use animals like this because animals hurt, just like we do."
"There are other ways to test products. We can even use computers to find out if a medicine or shampoo will hurt us."
Think About It
1. What do you think about testing things like nail polish and shampoo on animals?
2. If you found out that your favorite bubble bath or toothpaste was tested on animals, would you keep using it or would you ask your mom or dad to buy a different kind next time? Why?
3. Is it OK to use animals to test medicines? Why or why not?
Did you know that pigs are as clever as dogs? They are great mothers, too. In the wild, a mother pig will walk miles to find straw and twigs to build a nest for her babies. Chickens are smart, too. They can learn to use switches and levers to make the room hotter or colder, and some have even learned to open doors to feeding areas to get something to eat. People who study chickens have distinguished 24 different sounds that the birds use to communicate.
Just like us, chickens have feelings. During a storm, a rooster named Notorious Boy at a sanctuary held his wing over his hen friend, Mary, shielding her from the rain until someone remembered to let them inside. Wasn't that kind?
Many animals who will be made into food for people in this country, such as pigs, chickens and turkeys, don't live outdoors. In fact, they have never even seen the sun, felt grass underneath their feet or played chase with their friends. They live in pens and cages in huge buildings called "factory farms". There are no windows in factory farms, so animals raised there have never seen a cloud, a tree or a flower. All they know about the world is how the steel bars of their cages taste, how it feels to lay or stand on concrete floors and wire cages, and how it feels to be locked in a cage so small that they can hardly move. Factory farms are also dirty and crowded, which makes it easy for diseases to spread.
Think About It
1. How do you feel about factory farms? How do you think animals on factory farms feel?
2. How would you feel if dogs lived on factory farms? Or cats? Or people? Is there a difference? Why or why not?
A lot of people keep birds as companions, but considering that birds are meant to fly, is it fair to keep them in small cages? In the woods, jungles and forests - and even in our towns - birds fly about freely, journeying hundreds or even thousands of miles and soaring to great heights. They are free to go wherever they choose, whenever they choose.
Birds are very intelligent. Take a look at the following amazing facts about birds:
Crows have about 300 different calls, but not all crows understand each other. Just like us, they have different accents. Crows in the United States don't understand some calls that their British cousins make and vice versa.
Birds make sounds that we don't usually hear, like the hushed chatter and whispering between two nesting crows. They take turns "talking," having the bird equivalent of a conversation.
Birds remember exactly where they've hidden thousands of seeds each autumn and can find their way back to their stashes using the sun, stars, landmarks and sometimes the magnetic pull of the Earth to guide them. Isn't that incredible?
We know that crows use tools like twigs to pick up food, but one crow amazed birdwatchers by going one step further and making her own tool! She cleverly bent a wire in order to hook a piece of food that she couldn't reach with her feet. What a smart bird!
Birds dance, play "hide-and-seek" and have even been seen sliding down snowy slopes and climbing back up over and over for the sheer joy of it, just as we do!
Thousands of birds are still taken from their families and flocks every year, packed up as if they were plastic dolls and sent to countries like the U.S. to be kept as "pets". Many become very ill and don't survive the journey. Partly because of this, some types of birds might become extinct.
If you want to keep a bird, think about two things:
1) How would I feel if I were taken from my home and stuck in a cage?
2) How would I feel if I helped a species of bird become extinct?
If you have an aviary (a special large area where birds can fly safely), why not go to a rescue center and adopt birds from there? That way, you'll give a bird a second chance at a happy life and get the pleasure of seeing them live and fly!