In March 2008 students in San José received educational materials on animal welfare as they celebrated the Costa Rican government’s support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW).
The event, which took place in the main public square of the capital, was attended by more than 100 children and many teachers and parents.
Demonstrating government support for UDAW, the Minister of Education, Dr. Leonardo Garnier, collected petition signatures from the audience and participated in a video testimonial supporting animal welfare.
The Costa Rican government considers humane education to be an essential part of its ongoing “Peace for Nature” initiative, and provided activities at the event to engage the children with the animal welfare message.
A play looked at issues facing wildlife animals in captivity and the importance of being a responsible guardian for companion animals, and one school performed songs about local wildlife and good citizenship in relation to animal welfare.
The children expressed great concern about the welfare of animals and their interest in learning more.
Diego, 10 years old, said “animals are living beings as we are, they can feel and know when they are loved or not”. Daniela, 11 years old, believes a UDAW would “help prevent cruelty against animals and reduce their suffering.”
Primary school children who attended the event will be completing assignments and using their new educational materials in the classroom, focusing on “why animals matter to me” and their understanding of the UDAW.
Secondary-level students at the event expressed their interest in developing animal welfare activities in their schools and volunteering for community work to improve the lives of animals.
Costa Rica has a long history of providing animal welfare education, which WSPA has developed for use across the Latin America and the Caribbean. WSPA’s animal welfare education program – IN AWE – has been endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).