The Future of Animal Welfare Depends on Keeping our Kids' Eyes Wide Open

Okay, so these adages are well-worn or possibly even trite. However, they resonate with me today as we launch the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s annual Animal Action Week and set out to inspire millions of children in eight languages and more than 15 countries to learn about elephants, conservation, and animal welfare. Wait, animals and children?

They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Researchers at the University of Virginia found that most infants prefer to look at films and photos of animals over images of vehicles, toys and pretty much any other objects. In the U.S., children aged 6-14 would rather donate money to wildlife than win a sweepstakes, according to a market survey I came across recently (though children younger than nine were more altruistic than 10- to 14-year-olds).

Unfortunately, this strong connection starts to weaken for many people somewhere on the way to adulthood. One disturbing result: too many grown-ups have shut their eyes to the consequences of their behavior - the impact of human activities - on animals and our shared environment. Some recent examples:

According to a 2011 poll commissioned by IFAW, almost 3 in 10 adults in the US and several European countries didn’t know that an elephant must die in order to remove its ivory tusks.

In China, the largest market for ivory trinkets, almost 70% of people didn’t know that elephants are killed for their ivory, according to an earlier IFAW poll in 2007. Many thought elephants shed their tusks like a child loses teeth.

This is a shocking reminder of why it’s so important to better educate and inspire our children about conservation and animal welfare – in a way that stays with them as they grow into the next generation of leaders who will be making important decisions about the fate of animals around the world.

If we don’t make sure that today’s young people enter adulthood with their eyes wide open to the importance of protecting our living planet, then we are all – elephants, animals, ecosystems, people - in deep trouble. It comes down to another wise saying:

We will only protect what we appreciate, and we can only appreciate what we know.

I hope you will join me and our global ambassador for Animal Action Week, Leonardo DiCaprio, in engaging young people worldwide to ‘join the herd’ and protect elephants. -- FO To join Fred O’Regan and Leonardo DiCaprio in supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Animal Action Week, visit http://ifaw.org/education

Comments: 7

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Humane education is so important, for both children and adults. The National Museum of Animals & Society shares IFAW's vision of a more humane society, which can only be achieved by preparing the children of today for the responsibilities of tomorrow. Good job IFAW!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] post first appeared on IFAW’s Animal Wire. Julie’s Gift: Memories of LondonKevin and Julie travel to London. Kevin loathes [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] This post first appeared on IFAW’s Animal Wire. [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] The Future of Animal Welfare Depends on Keeping our Kids Eyes ... In this post the International Fund for Animal Welfare CEO Fred O'Regan talks to the need to be diligent in our efforts to keep our children aware and involved in animal welfare issues as a part of the remedy to the planet's ... Source: blog.ifaw.org [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] This post initial seemed on IFAW’s Animal Wire. [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Thank you, Mr. O'Regan, for your inspiring words of wisdom and great work!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

such a good article, very informative

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