Feb 19

Florida Trip

We recently visited 2 sanctuaries in Florida that focused on education as a key to helping humans feel empathy and compassion for wildlife to see that they have a responsibility to society and the living things on this planet.

McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach, Florida is a wildlife rehabilitation center.  Here, they treat sick or injured native animals as well as animals that have been confiscated from their owners due to neglect, abuse or illegal possession.  Their education program reaches thousands of children and adults annually.  This is a rare opportunity to get so close to wild animals and learn about their personal histories and every day needs.  It really was crazy to learn about all the humans that think it is a good idea to buy a tiger cub or other exotic pet illegally. There was even a monkey there that had been raised on fast food and came in to the sanctuary obese.  When they got him eating healthy foods and down to a healthy weight, he showed signs of aggression and continues to be their most aggressive monkey now that he doesn’t get his junk food.  Food for thought if we feed our own kids McDonalds.

We also checked out the Loggerhead Marina in Jupiter, Florida.  Here the children learned about turtles and their journeys.  This marina helps sick and injured turtles and releases them back to the ocean if they are able to survive on their own.  They have innovative workshops, story times and tours that also help the public learn about a turtles’ journey and how humans can help them survive when they run into trouble. We saw turtles that had been hit by boats, bitten by sharks or had pneumonia from the freezing cold water.  We also learned about the eggs they lay in the sand and how humans help guard them from predators and help make sure they make it to the water when they hatch.  If we had been there on Valentine’s Day we could have seen 2 of the turtles that were being released back into the ocean after being nursed back to health.  Totally cool.

I felt that both of these sanctuaries were examples of how education helps a child, or adult learn about a specific animal or animals and make a personal connection.  This connection in turn allows them to feel empathy and compassion for them and ultimately “want to help” because they know it’s the right thing to do. When you care, you can’t just walk on by and not help. This is one of the goals of Paws for Peace too.  We hope to help children feel compassion for all living things so they will want to help make the world a kinder place to live.

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