Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Predator or Prey

My husband took our 4-year old to our favorite desert zoo and botanical park. One of their most recent additions is the North American Jaguar exhibit. As you enter the exhibit, you walk along a path surrounded by familiar Sonoran desert vegetation (familiar to us anyway!), where you can easily imagine this beautiful large cat lurking somewhere nearby. Careful observation yields jaguar tracks and even its scat—convincing enough to invite a little fear into the back of your mind, there’s no way this thing got out, right? Then you are at once upon the exhibit, with glass and fencing that blend away so easily that you can easily enter into the veil of a wild and free close encounter with this predatory cat. It was here that my husband and son had an amazing, albeit a little creepy experience.

My husband had to follow up on scheduled call and while he was doing that, my son sat in the little zoo wagon watching the jaguar. And the jaguar was watching him. Rather, the jaguar was stalking him. Each moment my husband would turn away from the jaguar (only seconds at a time), it moved closer to my son, always watching him. My son noticed the jaguar moving closer and told my husband. What a great learning opportunity my hubby thought, and so they decided to “test” it. Sure enough when my husband simply looked away, the jaguar would move in closer. When my husband was looking at the jaguar, the jaguar would glance at my husband. It moved quickly from the cover of one bush to another.

The photos are of the jaguar after it moved in, now crouched beside some bushes, less than 5 feet away from my son. Notice how his paw is forward in the second shot which to me, looks like he’s entering a “pounce” position. It was enough to give both my husband and son an uncomfortable feeling. In my sons words, “that was creepy daddy.”

I've often heard of similar experiences with young children and large cats at zoos, in fact years ago one of the mountain lions here used to watch small children very intently and show similar behaviour within its enclosure. I think it's a fascinating opportunity to see these elusive animals react in such an instinctive way. I imagine it’s an intense experience, especially when you realize YOU are the prey that is triggering this instinctive behavior. As for my son, he bravely returned to the exhibit (very reluctantly at first) in order to show me the jaguar that he, “thinks wanted to jump on me mommy.”

Only the week before my son enthusiastically learned about carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores in zoo camp, including his preschooler perspective, “I’m meat mommy, so there are animals that would want to eat me!” which led to this interesting opportunity to apply those same concepts when talking about his encounter with this particular meat-eater. (Not to mention an additional opportunity to reinforce some favorite bedtime stories on courage and compassion through a gentle and supportive pep talk on courage that helped my brave little guy return to see the same cat less than an hour later!)

It could end up being a memorable experience that will stay with him for a bite..er bit :)

No comments:

Post a Comment