Does smart & socially aware = buzzkill?

The Little Nutball, junior activistIt has come to our attention that The Little Nutball has become her kindergarten class’s junior PETA spokesperson on the topic of marine prison camps. “Don’t go to Marineland! The orcas and dolphins want to be free!” and “They would live longer in the ocean. But Marineland keeps taking them, and they keep dying, so then they buy more.”

We’ve never had to fend off requests by her to go to MarineLand or to the circus, because we’ve always been upfront about what these places mean for animals. Marine theme parks mean a life of captivity for creatures meant to travel open expanses of sea, form family alliances and hunt for dinner. Not only are countless of their numbers killed or injured during capture, the “lucky” ones spend the rest of their lives circling in a concrete pool when they are not performing, literally, for their daily food rations. “Imagine being grounded in your bedroom, forever and ever until you died,” is how we put it. “And then they put someone else into your cage with you, and he was also grounded, plus you two didn’t even like each other but you had nowhere to go.”

We’ve also been discussing the brutality animals suffer in the name of circuses: beatings, shocks, being torn away from their families.

It’s incredible how open kids are to seeing the reality of the more insipid commercial activities being marketed directly at them. I don’t think we give them enough credit.

And besides, they still have plenty of opportunity to be entertained while siphoning money from our wallets. The indoor waterpark at Niagara Falls has become our default mindless-fun activity, and going for a boat ride in Sanibel, Florida, while wild dolphins chose to race beside the boat, was thrilling for us all. And we’ve become huge Cirque de Soleil fans. All told, more than enough fun to see us through the summer.