Activist pens book on animal rights

Heather Howe with the puppets she plans to use for lessons.

A Beauty Without Cruelty activist has written an interactive children’s book to teach children aged 11 and older, about the five freedoms for animals.

Part-time teach, Heather Howe, from Rondebosch, started on this journey about 18 months ago and her labour of love, The Five Freedoms For Animals and the Magic Minibus, was published last month.

The book is based on a group of children who stumble upon animals who are protesting for their five freedoms. The group go on an adventure with a fictitious bus to fight for animal rights, picking up animals who had been treated unfairly along the way.

Ms Howe said these five freedoms had been adopted by professional associations but had not been widely practised and applied to all animals, not just domestic animals. She said the book empowered children to think critically about their relationships with animals.

“Its about children and adults learning to respect animals and to have empathy for them,” she said.

The five freedoms are: freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour; freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area; freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment; freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind; and freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Ms Howe is currently working on class lessons aimed at grade 6 and 7 pupils and hopes to see it rolled out at schools.

“We put a lot of thought into the structure and the look of the book. We worked hard on the illustrations as we wanted it to be entertaining but most importantly educational,” she said.

She said the book could be used for lessons on critical thinking, writing and reading.

Beauty Without Cruelty is an educational organisation promoting the rights of animals. Their main mission is to educate and inform the public about the suffering of animals in vivisection and cosmetic testing, factory farming and wildlife exploitation.

Ms Howe said they had been an increase in the number of companies that had joined the humane guide and said they received calls on a daily basis. “Consumers are becoming more sensitive and aware of buying products that had been tested on animals. They are becoming more educated on the issue,” she said.