How city, country kids view wildlife
By Brandon Keim/Anthropocene
Photo by Phil Norton/flickr
As children spend ever more time indoors—eyes fixed upon screens rather than sunrises, ears tuned to Spotify instead of birdsong—they undergo what conservationists call the “extinction of experience.” They no longer have an everyday connection to nature. This extinction is thought to be especially widespread in urban and suburban areas, where kids have are exposed to less wild nature than their rural counterparts. Yet is that really the case?
“Little research has been conducted on children’s attitudes toward wildlife, particularly across zones of urbanization,” write researchers led by Stephanie Schuttler, a biologist at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, in the journal PeerJ. Their study found that “children across all levels of urbanization viewed wildlife in similar ways”—for better or worse.
The researchers asked 2,759 4th-through-8th grade North Carolina schoolchildren about the animals they liked most and those they found scary, and to rank their five favorite mammals from a list of 20 local and exotic species. Slightly more than half the students lived in suburban areas, while the rest were exurban or rural dwellers.