BOOK REVIEW: Cool Careers for Girls with Animals

Cool Careers for Girls with Animals (Cool Careers for Girls)

Animal-oriented careers are explored in this book aimed at the tween girl set. A variety of women representing different occupations are profiled. Depending upon one’s point of view, the result can be characterized as a mixed bag.

The book is illustrated in a purplish-pink color scheme that renders the tinted photos unclear. And then there’s the public domain clipart. Lots and lots of clipart. Which sometimes gets the authors into trouble, such as when they use a stock photo of a leopard to illustrate text about cheetahs.

Although Cool Careers has been recommended and sold by the ASPCA, the values espoused can be somewhat murky. Readers coming from viewpoint that animals have inherent worth can probably get a heads-up with this line from the summary: Not only are [animals] treasured companions, they also provide entertainment, exercise, and the solution to health problems faced by many people. Indeed, while some of the “cool careers” are about helping animals or studying them in their natural habitats, others depend upon the captivity or even deaths of animals. Chapters which may cause the most concern are the exotic animal trainer (for movie and TV sets), marine mammal trainer (of captive dolphins for aquarium shows), and ostrich farmer (for meat and hides).

The worst chapter, from my point of view, highlighted the ostrich farmer, who raises the exotic birds to be slaughtered for meat and leather “for purses, boots, belts, and hats.” The farmer of course distances herself from the animals, dividing them into categories of family pets and food: “I don’t allow myself to be affected or get close to the birds that are going to be sold,” the text quotes. A section headed “Ostriches are Dangerous” explains that the birds must be herded into separate pens when their eggs are taken away from them, as they will try to defend their young, like any animal.

The entire chapter is quite sad, especially when one considers what these animals endure at processing plants in the name of the latest trendy meat fad. We learn from the text that an ostrich’s natural lifespan can reach up to 75 years, but farmed ostriches are slaughtered as 10-to-12-month-olds. Paging Carol Adams: Can empowerment be gained through exploitation? In addition, there is much repetitive talk of ostrich meat as “healthy” and “delicious”.

Careers profiled in the book are Small Animal Vet, Pet Sitter, Horse Farm Owner, Bird Handler [zookeeper], Wildlife manager, Exotic Animal Trainer, Assistance Dog Trainer, Herpetologist, Marine Mammal Curator, and Ostrich Farmer.

You may wish to recommend Careers With Animals: The Humane Society of the United States and Willow Ann Sirch in addition to or instead of this title.

(review originally appeared at goodreads.com)

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