My 4 year old son is an animal lover; we share our home with two rabbits and a hamster and he just adores them. I knew he’d be over the moon at the chance to ‘cuddle’ baby chicks at his nursery school as part of a project to teach the children about the miracle of life.
However, as much as I love my boy, I don’t feel that his happiness should ever come at the expense, the fear or the discomfort of another.
And my concern is that is exactly what is happening with his nursery’s participation in the ‘Living Eggs’ project.
Now I’m wary of giving our furred and feathered friends human characteristics but it seems obvious to me that ALL creatures should be with their mothers during infancy. The chicks at my son’s nursery school have never known their mother. She is not there to offer them comfort or there to teach them how to become bigger chicks ready to face the big, bad world!
The first experience of life for these birds is a noisy classroom. They are subjected to handling (albeit supervised) by excited, squealing 3 and 4 year olds. Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’ springs to mind.
It just doesn’t seem right.
The real downside to this project though is the lesson I feel my son is going to learn; that birds and animals are merely there for our entertainment. Without my intervention, absolutely no thought would have been put into what would happen to these little babies after the project ends.
I can’t bear the thought of these little chicks, with whom my child has, unsurprisingly, fallen in love, facing the butcher’s knife. So now I’m faced with the task of finding safe homes for each of these birds.
Sadly, one of the chicks died shortly after hatching and 6 of the batch of 12 are boys so I’m having trouble finding people to take them. Obviously roosters don’t lay eggs, they fight with each other and they are noisy, early risers! People aren’t exactly lining up.
I have my fingers tightly crossed that I have found an animal sanctuary about 4 hours drive away that is happy to offer them a home. If that hope fails, the legacy of this particular living egg project will be 6 beautiful little birds, birds my son has spent time with, birds who have been named by the nursery staff, headed for slaughter.
This is not how I would choose to teach my 4 year old about the ‘miracle of life’.