Saturday, December 16, 2017

Animals In Kid Land Versus In The Real World

Jon Mooallem's introduction to "Wild Ones" caught me off guard:

"My daughter's world, like the world of most American four-year-olds, has overflowed with wild animals since it first came into focus:  lionesses puffins, hippos, bison,
sparrows, rabbits, narwhals, and wolves.  They are plush and whittled.  Knitted, batik, and bean-stuffed.  Appliquéd on onesies and embroidered into the ankles of her socks.
I don't remember buying most of them.  It feels as if they just appeared - like some Carnival Cruise Lines-esque Ark had docked outside our apartment and this wave of gaudy, grinning tourists came ashore.  Before long, they were foraging on the page of every bedtime story, and my daughter was sleeping in polar bear pajamas under a butterfly mobile with a downy snow owl clutched to her chin.  Her comb handle was a fish.  Her too brush handle was a whale.  She cut her first tooth on a rubber giraffe.
Our world is different, zoologically speaking - less straightforward and more grisly.  We are living in the eye of a great storm of extinction, on a planet hemorrhaging living things so fast that half of its nine million species could be gone by the end of the century.  At my place, the teddy bears and giggling penguins kept coming.  But I didn't realize the lengths to which humankind now has to go to keep some semblance of actual wildlife in the world."

He then goes on to discuss how far people have gone to help salmon swim up their blocked rivers, and how volunteers help seat turtle hatchlings safely into the sea, and giving plague vaccine to ferrets.

I've watched the menagerie that surrounds my granddaughter's every move, but I really hadn't come to the realization that it may be blinding us to the disappearance of real animals.  Food for thought.

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