One of the more enjoyable parts of working at the Zoo was that I had the opportunity to educate people; not just about the individual animals, but about habitats, ecosystems, and how species are interdependent upon each other. Including us.
One of the most common questions was, “What does it eat?” Since most of our education animals were predators, the answer was generally some other animal. I got many, many cringes and sad faces, sometimes in a hushed whisper they’d ask “Bambi?” From the same people who were about to sit down to a steak dinner prepared by a five star chef. If I was feeling flippant, I would ask, “where do you think meat comes from?” The answer I got quite often was, “the store, on those little styrofoam rectangles.” Some of them were even quite serious.
Sometimes, whether we like it or not, we get a reminder that everything eats something else. If you watch Tosh.O then you saw the video of the snow leopard and the squirrel.
***** Fair warning, this video shows squirrel death*****
Frankly, that squirrel was destined to be dinner. Did you see how it stopped and practically waited for the snow leopard to catch it? The truth is, on this planet, animals eat other animals and we are another link in that chain. When we forget or ignore that we are forgetting who we really are; a part of the life cycle.
As I listen to that dad’s reaction I can’t decide if he is truly horrified, or trying to cover his laughter and somehow reassure his child by saying “Oh no!” However, I see that as an opportunity to teach the child that what happened is not wrong, or sad or bad, but part of life. Kitty was hungry for a snack, are you hungry for a hot dog? It’s the Circle of Life.
I once knew a gal who couldn’t stand to look at raw meat. Loved her steak, just don’t, for the love of pete, show it to her in its bloody, uncooked state. Well done and on her plate, no problem. She didn’t cook much. Another friend was a vegetarian because she’d raised so many baby pigs and cows she couldn’t stand the thought of eating one of them any more. What I loved about both these women was that they acknowledged their dining habits were dependent on others, and made their choices accordingly.
Where do you fall in the spectrum? What would you do if that was you and your kid watching the snow leopard? Have you ever had to hunt for your dinner? Raised livestock? Which are You, dear reader?
I couldn’t pass up this one.
I was raised on a farm and knew the reality of the fact that when the pigs were sent out in those crates, we suddenly had a freezer full of fresh ham, bacon, and pork loin. My grandparents tried to hide the fact from me, but I knew the truth from a very young age and it didn’t bother me. It was a way of life and I loved having bacon for breakfast growing up. The baby pigs were cute when they were small, but they always grew up to be big, stinky pigs and then a part of a complete breakfast.
I raise my children the same way. I praise our cats for catching and killing the rodent population around our house and I explain to the children that its better the cats get to them before they get into our house and start eating our favorite foods. At least they provide an additional snack for the cats while the traps aren’t finding any nutrition in killing them. For five-year-olds, the girls take it very well and even join the praise of the cats for their kills. They didn’t even flinch at the headless rabbit the bigger cat tried to bring in the house. Now the giant spider in the house was an entirely different scenario, but digresses from the point.
A parent’s reaction will breed into the child’s reaction. They are taking their cues from us on how to react. If it doesn’t bother us, it most likely won’t bother them. There are the exceptions, but I try to live by the same rule – the same circle of life.
Very true Cassia! Thank you for your thoughtful response. It does seem that those who were raised with livestock share this outlook.
when I was a kid we raised chicken and rabbit every year for the freezer. a calf for fattening. and puppies for sale. You soon learn that there are pets and there are feed animals. so I don’t like the idea of killing animals for my plate, but I’m a realist.
Realism is the crucial component.
I’ve never had to hunt for my dinner but I’m curious as to how I’d get on if I ever had to. I worked in a butchers when I was a teenager for a few months. I’m still eating meat today, so it musn’t bother me too much, knowing where meat comes from and how it’s processed and prepared.
I haven’t hunted either, but I’d be willing to pay for the license and processing if someone would go out and shoot an elk or deer for me. Wouldn’t mind giving it a try though. It’s been a long time since I’ve fired a rifle.