Primary Current Assemblies
Animals in danger
Alan M. Barker
To reflect on protecting endangered animals with reference to the story of Noah.
Preparation and materials
- You will need an image of a giant panda (check copyright) and the means to show it. Ideally, Haizi, the giant panda that gave birth in China to the first pair of twins to be born in the world in 2013, according to conservation workers. Haizi had the twins at a conservation and research centre in Wolong (see video at: www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/21840556).
- Gather some images of other endangered species to show, too. Some can be found on the World Wildlife Fund’s website, at: www.wwf.org.uk, in the fact files in the kids section. Gather some information from the website about the steps being taken to help and protect these animals.
- Have ready the story of Noah (see below) to read out and discuss.
- Show the image of Haizi or another giant panda.
Refer to the birth of the giant panda twins in China. Explain that giant pandas live in bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China. Describe what bamboo is like and that pandas eat a lot of it. They are very attractive but rare creatures. It is thought that there are only 1600 left in the wild. Many of the forests where they live have been disturbed and destroyed, so safe places, or ‘reserves’, have been created to protect them. Great efforts are also being made to replant the bamboo that they eat in the wild.
- Show the images of other endangered species you have gathered.
Explain that the giant panda is the emblem of the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF is an organization that works to help animals in danger. Some are threatened by hunting. Others struggle to survive because their homes (or habitats) are being or have been destroyed.
- Continue to show the images of endangered animals and see if the children can identify the different species. Explain the steps that are being taken to protect them.
- Alternatively, introduce the story of Noah. Reflect that it tells of the need to respect God and all the creatures on Earth.
Then, tell the children that as you read them the story of Noah from the Bible, you would like them to take part by identifying the different creatures from the descriptions you will give. For example, ‘My fur is white and black. I love eating bamboo shoots. I live in China.’ describes a giant panda.
Noah felt sad. He was unhappy because the Earth had been spoiled. People were fighting and quarrelling with one another. The beautiful forests had been burned and the animals were afraid. There was no peace for any of them.
Noah was a good man and he felt that God must be sad, too.
‘What can we do?’ he prayed. ‘We must start again’, said God. ‘Build a boat for yourself. Build a big one with room for yourself and your family. Make sure you build it well, because I’m going to make it rain. The whole world will be covered with water, so don’t forget the animals and birds. Make room in your boat for them as well, two of every kind.’
Noah built his ark, together with help from his family. Eventually, they were able to make it their home. ‘We mustn’t forget the animals and birds’, said Noah. Together they thought about all the creatures that needed to be brought on to the boat.
If Noah was alive today, he would want to rescue creatures such as . . .
pause and, using the information you gathered from the WWF website above, describe the tiger, polar bear, rhinoceros, gorilla . . . Invite the children to describe other animals that are in danger.
Eventually, every kind of creature went on to Noah’s boat. They knew that Noah would give them the shelter and protection they needed.
- Reflect that there are many different kinds, or species, of animal. Every one is special. None can be replaced should it become extinct. Explain that’s why it’s important for people to care for the Earth’s creatures like Noah did.
Refer back to the birth of the twin pandas. Reflect that this story is good news! If you told the story of Noah’s ark, reflect that it, too, reminds us to care for animals, especially those that are in danger.
Time for reflection
Thank you for the wonderful animals and birds that live with us on Earth.
Help us to protect them from harm and to care for all creatures.
‘Oh praise him’/‘Song of Caedmon’ (Come and Praise, 13)