In continuing with our World Animal study, we are exploring herbivore vs carnivore animal eating behavior. Adrian was very perplexed that some animals eat other animals: "Why?" he kept asking. I explained that all animals depend on one another for their survival, directly or indirectly. To illustrate, we separated African animals into herbivores (gorillas, monkey, okapi, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, zebra) and carnivores (leopard, cheetah, lion, crocodile) and talked about how does the cycle of life affect each animal, and how important each animal is in the food-chain: a lioness, for example, needs to feed her cubs, or they will starve to death.
A crocodile needs to eat as well, although not often. It can survive for months without food due to a very slow metabolism.
A giraffe is a herbivore and has teeth and a skull equipped to grind tough vegetation.
Carnivores, on the other hand, are meat eaters. They derive their energy and nutrient from a diet consisting mainly of animal tissue.
Herbivores: Okapi, gorillas, Hippopotamus. (Buy animals here.)
We also discussed defenses: for example, a zebra can run fast; and an elephant's cub stays close to his mother and the herd, and with such unity and collaboration, together they can protect the young.
A fox praying on a wild rabbit.
Buy a deer here and a wolf here.
My friend, who is in awe of wolves, had shared this amazing video below, which shows the importance of wolves in controlling the population of deer. A "cascade" is an ecological process that starts at the top of food-chain and tumbles all the way down: for example, killing deer calves can drastically change the cascade of our eco-system. Each animal is indispensable in the circle of life, crucial not only in the life of other animals but in the ecosystem of our entire planet.
Is your child troubled by the fact that animals need to eat other animals to survive?