We went to the Minnesota Zoo yesterday for their homeschool day. It was fun. They had set up stations throughout the Minnesota Trail focused on different areas: math, literacy, geography, etc.
One part of the day did not go as planned, but that glitch provided a valuable lesson.
It was a bird demo. We, the visitors, were going to meet and learn about a snowy owl. A few minutes after the demonstration was to have started, a zoo employee stepped out from a back room to apologize for the delay. He was having a little trouble with the owl.
A few minutes later, he came out into the stage and said a few words about the owl. Part of what he told us was that the owl was still learning to be comfortable around people. He described what the owl was supposed to do when it came out, along with some other things it might do instead.
In the end, the owl never did come out. They ended up showing a Harris’ hawk instead.
The zoo employee explained that forcing the owl to come on stage when it was so uncomfortable would have been bad for it and counterproductive to the goal of training it to be part of educational demonstrations.
I couldn’t help but consider how many times adults pressure, or outright force, children to go ahead with things that make them uncomfortable or scared. Don’t they deserve to be treated with at least as much respect as the snowy owl?