7 Ways to Protect Wildlife in Your Backyard - and Beyond

There’s something about creatures of the wild that stir the hearts of our children. They laugh at funny monkeys, swoon at leaping leopards and, if they only could, they would hug those cuddly panda bears.  Though their natural habitat is a world away, our kids can’t get enough of these wildlife wonders.

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On Earth Day, Disney brings it all to life with Disneynature's Born in China, an true-life adventure film that captures some of the world’s most interesting creatures, weaving together extraordinary tales of survival, love, and independence. And what happens after watching a beautiful movie like this? Kids gain empathy and understanding for wildlife and want to do their part. Here are some ways you can help your kids make an impact, starting right in your own backyard.

1.    Build a friendly backyard.
While you’re probably not going to see panda padding through your backyard, if you have a welcoming space, you’re bound to find some interesting insects, plants, and animals making themselves at home. Make sure there are plenty of plants that provide food and some natural shelter for your newfound friends. If you set out birdfeeders, be sure to maintain them year-round for avian visitors.

2.    Go above and beyond when recycling.
Most of us already do our part by recycling, but if you make your child aware of other ways to help the environment, not only will your backyard flourish, but so will the world around you. Reduce consumption, reuse items that you’d normally just throw away, continue to recycle, and replenish the earth by planting a tree.

3.    Be conscious of sustainability.
When shopping, look for products that are sustainably or locally sourced. Really consider your choices before making a purchase and involve your children in the discussion.

4.    Carpool!
Going places with friends isn’t just fun, it makes environmental sense. Encourage carpooling, walking, and biking to keep fewer cars on the road.

5.    Don’t fall prey to the pet trap.
Sooner or later every kid wants a pet – and maybe something more exotic than a cat or dog. If you’re considering a pet like this, make sure you know where it came from, if it’s a legal purchase, and find out exactly what it takes to incorporate such a creature into your home.

6.    Enjoy the world around you.
One of the best ways to teach kids to care for the environment is to make them a part of it. Go on nature hikes. Join community conservation groups. Organize a clean-up day at your local park to help make a real difference for the wildlife there.

7.    Get face-to-face with animals!
Find a local zoo or aquarium (make sure it’s one that’s accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums) to have face time with all kinds of creatures, and learn about efforts being made to protect endangered species. Natural history museums and local wildlife rehabilitation centers are also great options to explore and learn. Take advantage of tours and group discussions offered to the community for free. Talk to teachers and your PTA about including environmentally-oriented class trips and curriculum. 

After watching Disneynature's Born in China, start a discussion about how the environment impacts wildlife. Give your kids the lead and you’ll be amazed at how much they already know and how much they really care. 

What are ways your kids help to protect the environment?

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