Six-year-old Anubha told her mother after she came back from school that day. She had visited the zoo for a school field trip. She grumbled to her mother for teaching her that parrots are green.
Apart from making children correct misdirected animal facts, zoo visits have several other benefits too. Let’s explore the top 10 benefits here:
This is the first benefit that comes to my mind (and usually to everyone’s mind?) when one thinks of a zoo visit.
“I believe that a day spent outdoors amongst other creatures is any day better than spending it in the mall with electronic gadgets,” says Anirudh, father of a three-year-old. He believes that animals have universal attraction. I agree!
2) Animals really exist
“Real bear! Teddy bear,” coos Anya.
Anya is carrying Buggy (her toy bear) and hugging it tight as she speaks. The sight of a big, cuddly, hairy bear in the zoo is making her two-year-old body jump and tumble as she dances around the cage.
It’s a cute sight but more than that it’s a great revelation for young minds to see their favourite animals live-up, close, and at a reachable distance.
Zoo visits inform children that their toy animals, what they read in books, and see on television really exist. This reality is fun!
Wondering why this subheading? Weren’t we talking about zoos? Yes, I know we’re discussing zoos and, they can be one of the best places for disciplining children.
“Most children who come here these days understand that animals need to be respected, even if they are in cages. We don’t have that kind of littering and feeding food through the nets any more,” says Vikas Nair, the caretaker of a local zoo in Mumbai, and I can hear his sigh over the phone.
It’s a sigh of relief. When children visit zoos, they see animals out of their natural comfort zones and therefore can be taught to respect that.
Best part is, they can bring that discipline home!
4) “The Big Cat!”
Simi went to a Zoo recently. Not an Indian zoo but somewhere abroad and there she spotted a lion.
“The lion was so close to us that I could almost peep into his eyes!” explains Simi’s mom. She adds that Simi was able to see and respect the real beauty of the creature, instead of being afraid like we all are.
“We get so scared of such animals and can never appreciate the beauty in them,” Simi’s mom concludes.
I agree! A zoo offers an opportunity to see animals for what they really are—removing the fear of tigers, lions, leopards, and the like; and understanding the real beauty in them.
5) Caricatures and the real things
“Did you know that Bambi looks different in real life?” My niece asks me during our phone conversation. I nod. Obviously, she can’t see me and so asks again.
She recently visited a deer park/zoo of sorts and is head over heels in love with the real Bambi–her favourite cartoon character. Bambi is a deer caricature. Seeing a real deer showed her where the cartoon character was inspired from.
Zoo visits help kids differentiate between animated caricatures and the real form of the animals they love.
Wonderful, isn’t it?
6) Animal Behaviour
From a monkey’s scratch to a lion’s roar, animal behaviour in real life is a very intriguing and thrilling. What if we could make our kids experience this thrill?
Zoo visits help children understand animal behaviour—for what it actually is.
“Horses can sleep standing up and elephants do lots and lots of smelly potty.” says five-year-old Ishan when I asked him what he learnt at the zoo.
From sleeping patterns to potty habits, children have some observation!
7) Animals Habitats
Although most zoos cage animals, some of them provide semblance of the real animal habitats within their cages.
“We keep explaining how a giraffe eats grass by bending its tall neck but when they see a giraffe standing amidst grass and actually eating it, the fun is something else.” My son’s school teacher explains that seeing animals in their almost-natural setting, doing their natural activities is a great learning experience for children.
I agree, don’t you?
8) Pollution-free environment
Well-maintained zoos have enough flora and fauna to replicate a mini jungle. Which means, they are less-polluted than our concrete jungles.
“Khushi told us that she likes the air. It smells nice.”
Mom Paridhi explains that for a four-year-old, pollution is difficult to describe. Sensing that the smell in the air is different and that she likes the environment goes a long way in proving that kids enjoy freshness of the outdoors.
The next time you think of a mini holiday in the outdoors, plan a visit to the zoo!
9) Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic
What are these? Yes, they’re learning styles but what do learning styles got to do with the visit to a zoo?
“My son likes to touch things to enjoy them,” says Seema.
Well, Seema has a kinaesthetic learner at home. What is your kid’s learning style?
When kids like to learn by listening, they’re auditory learners. Those who enjoy sight more than sound or touch are the visual learners.
A zoo is one place where every kid can learn about animals, irrespective of his/her learning style. Active animal behaviour serves the sight. To be able to feel animals serves kinaesthetic and listening to the wonderful animal sounds serves auditory faculties.
All in one, isn’t it?
Every aspect that a child learns in a zoo has something to do with sensitivity. So, in a way, this is a point sums it all.
What’s the point of going to the zoo if not to learn about animals and then being sensitive towards what you’ve learnt?
Since a zoo visit makes animals ‘real’ for children, it’s the best place to sensitise them and ourselves towards these fellow creatures.
The world is craving for a sensitised future and it’s high time we participate.
How have zoo visits benefited your child? Share your views in the ‘Comments’ section below.
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