Springtown Elementary School students greeted a special guest on Tuesday morning — a 6.5-foot tall mechanical elephant named Ellie.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought Ellie to the elementary school to give a presentation about speciesism and teach compassion towards animals. PETA Tour Administrator Levi Brasga, Tour Crew Member Gareth Junior and Ellie told students, in grades pre-kindergarten through second, that they, too, are animals, and all animals have feelings and want to live free from abuse, like testing, killed for fur or skin or caged in a circus. They also talked about the difference between animals and things.
Speciesism is the belief that all other animal species are inferior to humans.
Ellie has been touring for more than four years and can be operated to speak to students herself. PETA also uses other mechanical animals on tours, Brasga said.
“Children have a natural empathy toward animals, and by promoting kindness to animals through humane education programs like Ellie, schools are able to create a more compassionate society,” Brasga said.
Also, children who are taught to be kind to other animals also tend to be kind to people, Brasga said.
SES Counselor Amy Miller said this is the first time that PETA has presented at the elementary school, and it was free for the school to host it. Miller said she hopes students will treat animals better than before.
“I think most of them do treat their animals nicely, but hopefully this steps it up a notch to be more kind to animals,” Miller said.
Learning to have empathy and how to treat others at a young age can help students grow up to have better morals, Miller said.
Teaching character lessons is part of what schools, like Springtown Elementary, are responsible for nowadays.
“We’re not just teachers and counselors and administrators; we’re also that kid’s parent here at school to teach them the right way to go in life,” Miller said.