The construction of a 200-square-meter garden in Xingzhi School in the Daxing district was finished in May.
The organization plans to build gardens in two more schools, Hu Huizhe, a division head in chargeof education issues with Friends of Nature, said on Sunday during an event to promote the program.
“Every child longs for a place where nature can be touched and that is full of flowers and grass.But many schools in Beijing, especially in the outskirts, are surrounded by warehouses and factories. And in the schools, there are only gray playgrounds, single-story classrooms, and no green landscape,” Hu said.
The Xingzhi School in the Daxing district was privately founded in 2001, and all its 700 students arechildren of migrant workers. The school changed its location five because of funding shortages, butthrough social support, its facilities have been improving.
Huang Man, a 10-year-old student at Xingzhi School who comes from Central China‘s Henanprovince, likes the garden.
“We used to play in the playground, but that’s so boring. Now, my classmates and I can look atflowers in the garden during the breaks. It’s beautiful,” she said.
“I planted two trees in the garden, and I regularly water them. I feel I have a responsibility for their growth,” said Li Xiaoxiao, 12, a grade four student at the school.
“The garden has added vitality to our school, and it has helped stimulate the students’ awareness of loving nature,” said Shen Guixiang, Xingzhi School principal. “Students volunteer to water flowers and grass in the garden.”
Mu Danfeng, from Friends of Nature, who is in charge of the program, said making such gardens not only helps improve schools’ facilities, it brings the public in contact with the school and makes people aware of the difficulties of those schools and the real needs of students.
Mu said that in addition to the full participation of students and teachers in planting and caring forthe gardens, Friends of Nature has mobilized volunteers to interact with students in gardening activities and environmental protection education courses.
Gao Jian, a post-graduate landscape architecture student at Peking University, and designer of theXingzhi School garden, said the garden is more just flowers and grass, it improves the school.
“Maybe we’ll plant vegetables or trees there later,” he said. “The garden is the fruit of public support and a platform for teaching environmental protection, too.”
As the first environmental non-governmental organization recognized by the authorities, Friends of Nature was founded in Beijing in 1994 by Chinese historian Liang Congjie (1932-2010).
- Animal rights : zoo performance ban sought (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Chinese farmers show off wild and crazy watermelons (photoblog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Migrant workers in Qatar face serious abuse (independent.co.uk)
Animal rights groups are calling for a ban on all animal performances in China, including liveshows, petting zoos and photo sessions. China Daily reports
However, their campaign - which also calls for a ban on dolphin shows - is said by some to havegone too far.
Animal performances and circus shows, especially in Beijing, have ”seriously impaired thecountry’s and city’s image with brutality and savage behavior”, Liu Huili, an animal rights supporterand researcher with Green Beagle, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization, said at asymposium on Saturday.
Attendees at the symposium, including researchers and volunteers from Green Beagle, China ZooWatch and the Beijing Loving Animals Foundation, proposed the performance ban, especially inthe capital city.
China Zoo Watch conducted a study from January 2011 to the end of March, in which it sampledmore than 40 zoos nationwide. It found that animal performances, which it claims often involve actsof cruelty, are common nationwide.
About 50 percent of urban zoos, 91 percent of animal parks and 89 percent of aquariums offersuch performances, according to the survey.
Performances include animal wire walking, jumping through fire loops, standing upside down andboxing, which ”might seriously impair the animals’ physical and psychological health”, Liu said.
In Beijing, the wildlife park in Daxing district offers shows of dogs jumping through fire loops, andanother wildlife park near the Badaling section of the Great Wall features wolves and tigers jumpingacross fiery circles and bears playing with flaming sticks, the survey found.
Both parks declined to comment on the issue when reached by China Daily on Sunday.
Liu Nonglin, a senior engineer of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, said a zoo shouldbe a demonstration site for animal protection.
Liu said people could also be hurt by many zoo animals or catch diseases. However, he said, atotal ban on animal performances would take time and require public cooperation and a change inattitudes.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a circular in 2010 banning animalperformances nationwide, but the rule does not apply to aquariums.
However, as the circular didn’t specify penalties, animal performances and petting zoos featuringwild animals remain a common practice, said Sun Xiaochun, a ministry official.
“It (the circular) is more of a warning than a regulation,” she said, adding that the ministry mightrevise the rules to impose tougher punishments.
But not everyone agrees with the campaign against animal performances.
Zhou Haipeng, 22, a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said he found animalperformances, especially by dolphins, very loving and informative, rather than cruel and mercilessas depicted by the activists.
He said he first went to the Beijing Aquarium in 2008, when he arrived in the capital for study, andwas very impressed.
“The dolphin show was cute,” said the student from South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomousregion. “That was the first time I saw a dolphin in the flesh.”
Zhou said it would be sad if animal performances are banned, especially the dolphin shows.
“People, especially those from inland cities, could see and touch animals and become furtheraware of how to protect them, which is a good thing,” he said. “Jumping a fire loop is toodangerous, but dolphins swimming in the water is not.”
The Beijing Aquarium told China Daily on Sunday that their dolphin training is animal friendly, notbased on punishments.
“We offer animal performances to let the public know how cute they are and how to better protectour (animal) friends.”
There are 24 dolphins at the Beijing Aquarium, all of which appear in the shows, 15 minutes eachand two or three a day, according to their physical condition.
The Beijing Aquarium stopped allowing people to interact with the dolphins, which included allowingchildren to kiss the animals, in 2010.
“There’re no more performances we can call off. All we have left are some simple performances,like jumping and bouncing balls,” the spokeswoman said.
“We’re keeping records of the dolphins’ physical and psychological condition, while providingsufficient nutritious food.
“All the dolphins have been healthy since the aquarium was established 12 years ago,” she added.
- Animal rights groups seek performance ban (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
- Beijing Tries To Control Growing Political Scandal (npr.org)
- Swiss lawmakers support ban on dolphin aquariums (news.yahoo.com)
- Shedd Dolphin and Beluga Whale Pregnant (myfoxchicago.com)
- Stop Killing Dolphins with Deep Water Sonar (forcechange.com)
- Beijing Attractions: Sightseeing & Tourist Attractions in Beijing – Fairmont (fairmont.com)
- Dolphin Confidential: A Woman and the Dolphins She Loves (psychologytoday.com)