Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be like Eliza Thornberry from the wickedly awesome show The Wild Thornberrys. She could talk to animals and her family traveled all over the world studying wildlife. Her companion was a witty, sarcastic chimpanzee named Darwin. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want an animal sidekick that not only talks back, but also has smartass remarks? Exactly.
The Wild Thornberrys has been off air since 2007 so it’s very likely that your little one hasn’t heard of it nor ever will. However, Eliza was a badass in her own way. She faced hungry carnivores, saved baby animals, and befriended all sorts of wildlife creatures. If that’s not the definition of cool, then I don’t know what is.
So if you want your kid to be an animal guru, here are the steps you should take.
Introduce Your Children to Wildlife Animals
Okay, so you can’t just pack your things and venture off with your toddler to the African savanna. That’s just unrealistic. However, you can learn everything about the variety of animals that live around the world through alternate means. Go to the nearest zoo or aquarium and go nuts. You know those plaques next to the animal’s area that seem to have unbearably long paragraphs? Read them! You’ll actually learn all sorts of fun and useful facts.
Can’t find a zoo near you? Next best thing is live zoo cams. Zoos, aquariums, and other wildlife sites are starting to set up live cams of animals so people can watch what they’re up to from the comfort of their homes.
The point of all of this is to introduce your little one to as many wildlife creatures as possible (even the odd ones that no one hears about) and learn as much as you can about them. Take them out to your backyard or your local hiking trail and point out the different bugs or small creatures you bump into. Can’t go wrong with watching the Discovery Channel or National Geographic either.
Have a Sense of Adventure
The next step is having a sense of adventure. Since it’s unlikely that your youngster will be off to explore the Arctic anytime soon, why don’t you start with something more basic like the woods?
Eliza always ventured off whenever her family was stationed somewhere for their documentary show. She would explore the area, running into different species of animals. She normally managed to befriend, but on occasion she would find some unfriendly animals (mainly the carnivores).
You don’t have to worry about that (just yet). It’s good to instill that “Adventure Time!” need at a young age. Of course, not all children are the same and some will freeze up at that thought of doing anything outside of their comfort zone, but deep down everyone likes a good adventure. It’ll just take a little shove in the right direction to get it out. Just look at Bilbo.
Start off small by going for a hike in the woods, climbing a small mountain, walking around town, or just going to the park. Anything to get your little one outside and seeing new things.
Finally, last but not least…
Being an Animal Person
Not everyone is good with animals, but there are those that can communicate really well with them and those are the people who go into the fields that involve interacting with animals on a regular basis.
Being an animal person is more than just being good around household pets. You respect any living creature and find most, if not all, fascinating in their own way. Eliza Thornberry absolutely loved animals and would marvel at every single one she encountered, and that’s what made her such an awesome person. She was also patient, kind, and caring towards the creatures she met (she got her “gift of gab” because she rescued a shaman disguised as a warthog).
Familiarize your child with as many animals as possible. Take them to a petting zoo, go outside and find any backyard creatures, or even something simple like feeding the ducks. Anything that will get them to be comfortable around animals will help them in the long run.
I mean I don’t know if you want to go as far as getting them a wild cat, but if that’s what you’re into, who am I to judge?