What Would the Animals Say?

Posted by 7 years ago | Permalink | Comments (6)

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If you have children or work with children, you know how much animals fascinate them and how animals feature heavily in children’s stories, games and toys. I always think it must be confusing for children when they eventually come to the realisation that much of the food they eat is animal flesh and that the lives of animals on factory farms are not remotely like the rosy or fantastic pictures painted in their storybooks. In addition, less “cuddly” animals are often presented negatively in books, cartoons and films.

Recently, I was pleased to come across a children’s book that was a little different. Jane Mann’s Give Us a Chance! is a collection of poems about animals who are often feared or disliked but who actually have amazing skills and abilities which children might not know about.

From mouse to magpie, seagull to snail, the animals who are the subjects of these poems are seen in a different light. Each poem is written from the viewpoint of the animals themselves, who appeal to the reader to empathise with them and challenge any preconceptions the reader may have.

Give Us a Chance! is a book which awakens children’s interest in animals by showing kids that animals have phenomenal abilities, interests similar to theirs and complex behaviour and needs. Animals are intelligent, are great parents, communicate with each other in complex ways, build shelters without the benefit of tools, find food without having to go to the supermarket and navigate without a compass. They are emotional beings who experience happiness, loneliness, joy, fear and grief, just as we do.

Pig Protest
Reproduced with kind permission of Jane Mann and Vinca Press

I once was nimble, dark and lean,
I roamed through forests, rich with green.

I had a close-knit family,
A life that kept me fit and free.

Then humans caught me for their meat,
And gave me ghastly swill to eat.

They shut me in a narrow crate,
Determined I should put on weight.

I scarce can move or turn around,
My brain and instincts curbed and bound.

I never feel the earth and sun.
I have no place to play, have fun.

By nature I am clean and hate
The dirt in which I’m forced to wait.

Because they’ve bred me fat and pink,
It doesn’t mean I never think.

It doesn’t mean that I am thick.
In fact I have a brain as quick

As any dog’s if given chance
To show the way I can advance.

Remember, too, pigs share some parts
The same as humans like their hearts.

So humans should not now abuse
My name with all the terms they use,

Like “fat as pig” or “pig in poke”,
“Pig-headed”, “pig it” for a joke.

It’s time to show respect, be kind,
To recognise I have a mind.

I’m not just meat or meant to be
So scratch my back and set me free,

Back to a life to use my brain
To be a natural pig again.


  • zoe commented on May 21, 2010 at 9:41 am

    i cant belive people would kill animals for testing why cant they just get animals fur that has fallen of the animal insetd of killing the animals.

  • KT commented on May 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    That’s a wonderful poem, I’m definitely going to look up this book on Amazon.

  • Katt commented on June 2, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Although I understand what this poem is saying, and I know it’s 100% true and it’s right to tell kids about animals qualities…
    I found it incredibly disturbing and jam-packed with ugly and horrifying images.
    “I scarce can move or turn around,
    My brain and instincts curbed and bound.”
    Yeah, I know this is true and yeah, it’s disgusting and if I ever have kids I will bring them up vegan.
    All the same, this extract creates a dark, nightmarish and claustrophobic image in my mind and I would never, ever, EVER show my children this poem.
    I may only be 16 but if this poem freaked the hell out of me then I’d hate to be a child and be read this by my mum/dad.
    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a desperate, trapped feeling about not being able to help every animal in world and it makes me seriously depressed and makes me want to scream all the time.
    I’d hate to inflict that on my kids.
    I think the point of showing animals good qualities has been lost here, and instead it focuses on the negativity of life for an animal on a meat farm.
    “Then humans caught me for their meat”
    I found this equally disturbing. You and I know that it IS humans that have done this, but it is unfair to put the blame on a child, who probably hasn’t ever eaten meat but nevertheless feels guilty for being human. I know I did, and I’m legally a child and haven’t ever eaten meat.
    From reading this, I bet you probably think that I would want my children to be ignorant to all of this, but I don’t, I just think to intigrate this kind of guilt and fear into a childs mind is wrong. Especially at a very young age as this can lead to serious psychological issues.
    Anyway, I’m not saying the poem isn’t good, but in my opinion it is something I wouldn’t show my kids and definitely not before their bedtime.

  • Brien Comerford commented on June 2, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Great poem and I highly recommend Benjamin Zephaniah’s “Little Book Of Vegan Poems”, “Talking Turkeys” and “Funky Chickens.”

  • Zackary Eekhoff commented on April 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

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  • Ann Marsden commented on February 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Since this morning when Idonated a sum of money,following a gut feeling I found a number reports regarding. the animals the supposedly rescue,apparently these animals are Euthanized less than 24hours after rescue, if you do not believe me look up The magazine ,Daily mail and also there are Blogs. Their defence is pitiful saying it is better to kill than to rehabilitate. I will no longer Donate some of those that have should check the so called ethical policies of this organic station. Here is an aside During the WWF tenure Tigers have declined dramatically . Try checking before the Time magazine. Spellchecker error

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