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Animal rights activists displeased after kids at Brazilian camp paint horse

An equestrian camp in Brazil encouraged children to paint all over a horse and it has caused an uproar among animal rights activists. .
An equestrian camp in Brazil encouraged children to paint all over a horse and it has caused an uproar among animal rights activists. . Facebook

There are a multitude of ways to teach children how to act around animals and overcome any fears they may have, but animal rights activists don’t believe that using them as a blank canvas for drawing is one of them.

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Local farm works with horses to teach leadership skills
Local farm works with horses to teach leadership skills

An equestrian camp in Brasilia, Brazil, is making headlines for encouraging a group of children to paint and draw on a white horse.

According to the Facebook page of the J Serafim Show news channel, children at the camp participated in an activity where they painted on a horse in an attempt to “[encourage] the child’s interaction with the animal, and [focus] on young people with fear or having special needs,” the post reads as translated from Portuguese.

The post claims, according to Muriell Marques, head of marketing for the equestrian school, that the ink and paints were non-toxic.

“It’s an ink indicated to play with children. If it doesn’t hurt for the child, it’ll hurt the animal?” Marques is quoted as saying.

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She also points out that the children take part in washing off the animal after the activity.

The post went up in response to outcry from the animal rights community, particularly Ana Paula Vasconcelos, who is described as a lawyer and activist.

“They had the brilliant idea of putting the horse as a painting screen, saying it would be educational activity. They said it was a rescued horse, but that doesn’t justify it. Cruelty is the same,” Vasconcelos is quoted as saying.

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“It’s a disservice. We try all the time to build an idea of respect for animals. All of a sudden, children are placed in this kind of activity?”

Many of the comments on the post side with Vasconcelos, pointing out that the animal had no say in the matter, and that the children would have been better served if they had been taught to love and respect the horse.

Liz White, leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, believes that this activity merely commodifies animals in the eyes of children.

“It’s an objectified tool for kids to paint on,” she tells Global News. “It just points to the broader objectification of animals without [imparting an] understanding of their needs or wants.”

She says children are already exposed to enough examples of the objectification of animals with things like horse-drawn carriages in city centres.

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“Kids and families see those horses and they want to go for a ride, but they don’t take into account anything about the animal. The temperatures can be very high [in some urban centres] and they’re in the middle of traffic — we just want to use them for our purposes,” she says. “But you can’t blame kids; they don’t know any better.”

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Similarly, she says, the children at the Brazilian camp probably thought their experience was great for both them and the horse.

“They don’t know, and [that] activity is teaching them that it’s OK,” she says. “But kids can learn, and we’re finding that there are more kids today who are aware of the cruelty [of some animal practices] and they’re facing it a different way.”

And probably not by painting all over an animal.