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Build-A-Bear and Educating Children About Endangered Animals

I discovered a few interesting facts involving endangered animals that I wanted to share.  I’ve had endangered animals on my mind since the boys and I visited our zoo last weekend.  We never miss an opportunity to discuss animal issues, especially when we say hi to the tigers that Francesco believed he’s rescued from extinction from his birthday party donations.  The boys mentioned at the zoo that perhaps it would be nice to save a different animal species at his birthday party next year.  The impact and dialogue that resulted from Francesco requesting donations in lieu of gifts, just continues to build.  Every hawk/eagle that circles the sky, one of my boys always comments that we’ll have to save them next.  I love that they are thinking of helping animals above the fun of receiving presents. I’m still receiving positive comments and feedback from parents about this idea.

The highlight of our zoo visit is the miniature train you can ride that tours the entire zoo.  The part that I enjoy the most is the train conductor who gives interesting and adorable animal facts over their loud speaker while driving the train.  They are such cute bits of information for the kids – here are a few:

♦  All zebras have the same number of stripes…they are just organized in a different pattern on each zebra.

◊  If you shaved all the fur off a tiger, the stripe pattern would still be visible on their skin.

♦  Flamingos are not naturally pink.  The alpha and beta-carotene in their diet makes them this color…without it they would be gray.

◊  A giraffe’s heart weighs 25 lbs.  Also, a  giraffe only sleeps for 1/2 hour per day (24 hour period).  If a giraffe naps for 1 minute…that is considered a deep sleep.  (Yikes!!)

♦  And lastly, what started me on this topic – the Siberian Tigers at our zoo, will likely be extinct in the wild by the year 2010.  Right now they are considered extremely endangered.

Francesco has always loved those tigers at the Vancouver Zoo and it makes us so sad to think about how endangered their species is.  It got me thinking that a ‘softer’ way to introduce a younger child to the plight of endangered animals is to engage them in a really fun activity.  Take them to Build-A-Bear!  This may sound like a contradiction to most Eco activities, but we are talking about a great way to provide information and education without the child even realizing it.  Build-A-Bear makes it easy by featuring World Wildlife Fun Friends.  For every animal purchased in their WWF Collection, Build-A-Bear will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund.  What a great idea! 

hmmmm ..can you imagine if Webkinz did the same thing?  With how many Webkinz creatures they sell…the dollar amount would be incredible!  I’m just thinking out loud, but I might need to send off an email.  <smile>

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Reaction To Eco Kid’s Birthday Party

I’ve waited almost 1 month to post the reactions from parents and their children to the eco party we hosted to celebrate Francesco’s 6th birthday.  Nobody, and there were 20 kids with parents, had a single negative thing to say.  I wasn’t worried about the reduction of party supplies concerning my guests and I was pretty sure they would like the give-aways…it was feedback about Francesco not getting any presents.  I even had visions of children telling me I wasn’t a nice mommy for taking this away from him, but everybody, including the children loved it!  Most parents had never attended a party where the birthday child’s parent requests that a small donation is brought for the birthday child in lieu of a gift.  The total amount of dollars from the party is split in 1/2, the birthday child can purchase a special gift with their portion and a social cause is the recipient of the other 1/2.  Parents just LOVED this idea!  And the children all thought Francesco was the coolest for helping save the tigers.  Comments from parents included “Love the idea of reducing plastic from the large amount of toys everyone receives at children’s parties” and “My older children heard about Francesco saving the tigers and would like to help the planet at their birthday party too!” .

The best comment from a parent regarding the give-away (planter that was wrapped with a brown recyclable bag, with dirt and seeds) was “This is bar none, by far, no doubt about it.. the VERY BEST giveaway we have ever seen. And I love the fact that there is nothing commercial about it!! And it’s so… well, uh…. GREEN!!!! The planter alone serves as a constant reminder that we need to “get back to the basics” with the kids…  LOVE IT!!!”

As mentioned before, Francesco decided to donate 1/2 of his birthday money raised at the party to help the tigers.  We donated his money via the online donation through the Wildlife Conservation Society’s website.  If your child is a fan of wild animals, their website has some great information, very child friendly, and interesting.  Their commitment to involving children with the conservation of wild animals is clear.  One feature of their site has an awesome game for kids to play and learn (no donation is required) how their actions affect wild life and the planet.  The page is called The Human Footprint and there are three steps to complete.  First you choose to ‘Learn’ and you select one of the 31 animals featured.  It gives you information about where that endangered animal lives, the problem the animal faces, what the WCS is doing to help, and how your child can help in the long term or within 24 hours.  Pretty neat that my child can feel immediately empowered that they are helping their favorite animal!  The 2nd step to this exercise is to ‘Act’ , so you select the ‘I want to help GO’ arrow where your child can read about global challenges and options they can commit to in order to help their animal.  They can then select the ‘I want to do it’ box and realize that a very easy act can help make a difference for animals and the planet.

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