Education on animals critical

Updated: 2014-04-07 08:23

By Guo Geng (China Daily USA)

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Editor's note: Guo Geng, 53, deputy director of the Milu Ecological Research Center in Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park, shared his thoughts on animal protection and education with China Daily.

I am an animal enthusiast, but I have never had a pet like a dog or a cat. Instead, I reared chicks and guinea pigs.

I wanted to get a job related to animals but I ended up majoring in economics instead.

So when I graduated from Renmin University of China in 1977, I became a businessman.

But five years later, I applied for a job at an animal protection association that had cooperated with my company at that time.

From then on, I was responsible for feeding chimpanzees until I was transferred to work in the park in 1998.

Renowned British primatologist Jane Goodall also visited the park that year and we quickly became good friends.

I became a vegetarian after I met Goodall and tried my best to follow her suggestion to keep the park in a wild condition.

But I rebuilt roads in the park to make it more accessible for people and to prevent visitors from chasing and threatening the animals in the open.

I was angry with those who breached rules and harmed animals in our park. But that also made me more determined to spread knowledge about wildlife among members of the public.

I give speeches and classes about animals at elementary and middle schools about twice a week. Sometimes I take students to the park to honor the extinct animals.

I want the young to understand the history of animals and to help them cultivate awareness about the need to protect wildlife.

Previously, my focus was to feed and love animals. But I am paying more attention to educating the public about animal protection.

By educating the young, I am also continuing to learn.

In the past, I was just interested in mammals, but now I have learned to love every kind of animal.

As I study the Milu, or Pere David's deer, in the park, I have grown fond of the birds that prefer to live in the wetlands.

When I am with friends in the park, I introduce birds to them and tell them it is all part of ecology - where every species can live harmoniously.

I also suggest that visitors watch animals in the wild instead of locking them up at home.

But I am not an overzealous animal protector. I know it is wrong to force others to accept my ideas or even to harm them - such as harassing people who wear fur.

I hope more Chinese animal protectors can do their work more scientifically in more developed environments like Germany, and embed the importance of understanding animals into the local culture, like how it is done in India.

Guo Geng spoke with Cao Yin.

(China Daily USA 04/07/2014 page4)