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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An equestrian camp in Brasilia, Brazil, is making headlines for encouraging a group of children to paint and draw on a white horse.
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.
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.
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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Similarly, she says, the children at the Brazilian camp probably thought their experience was great for both them and the horse.
And probably not by painting all over an animal.