Compassion and respect, following Dr Jane Goodall’s lead

Nichola Kriek, Head of Education, and Jasmijn de Boo, CEO, met with Dr Jane Goodall on Wednesday 28 June. The famous primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace was on a speaking tour around New Zealand, and kindly made time available to talk about matters of shared interest.

We spoke with Dr Goodall about New Zealand specific issues, including conservation, agriculture, vegetarianism, and the need to be sensitive to different views, while respectfully and collaboratively help change the world to become a better place for animals, people and the environment. SAFE is very pleased to be partnering with the new Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand on several education initiatives, and more information will follow soon.

Just hours before our meeting, shocking news had emerged of a cruel school possum hunt. Animal rights activist, Lynley Tulloch, had attended the event on 25 June, and had alerted the authorities and the media. “The smell of death and the children just playing around it was really jarring” Lynley commented.

At the annual fundraising hunt for a South Auckland school, possum joeys were taken from their mother's pouch and drowned in a bucket of water. Lynley set up a petition calling for a ban on such school possum hunts. SAFE joined the debate online and on various radio shows pointing out how inhumane and unnecessary these events are, and calling for such hunts to be removed from school grounds.

The news had also reached overseas concerned animal advocates, including compassionate conservationist, Dr Marc Bekoff. Marc wrote in his blog in Psychology Today, “What is terribly disturbing is that people in charge of these murderous and inexcusable events are not questioning whether they should happen in the first place.”

Dr Goodall agreed with Nichola and Jasmijn that language use, such as the word ‘pest’ does not help people regard possums, and other introduced species, as sentient beings. The vilification and killing of possums can lead to desensitisation to violence. We discussed the need for humane education that teaches kindness and respect for all living beings, and increases empathy. Dr Goodall’s message of hope, and encouraging everyone to take action is now needed more than ever.

Join SAFE in calling on the Ministry of Education for an end to school possum hunts in favour of beneficial and kind conservation events that teach the right values.

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4 July 2017