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?