(G.N.S) Dt. 29
Far from digital textbooks and simulated games, a pet sanctuary in the suburbs is encouraging youngsters to learn from nature.
Even in this age of virtual reality, there are some things that can’t be simulated; for instance, the bond that a child develops with a pet at home, or the learning that comes by paying attention to nature. With this thought as its driving force, a pet sanctuary in the outskirts of Bengaluru has opened its doors to children.
Situated about 37 km south of MG Road, off the famous Art of Living ashram on Kanakapura Road, ‘Prani – The Pet Sanctuary’ aims to bring youngsters closer to animals, and nurture respect and appreciation towards other living beings, allowing heathy development.
The ‘bio startup’ is the joint effort of two friends — Sanjeev Pednekar, a herpetologist and conservationist, and Karthik Prabhu, a trained conservationist.
With animals rescued from various parts of the state, including Bengaluru, Pednekar and Prabhu (both aged 27) have set up Prani, the Pet Sanctuary on a 2-acre farm amid lush green natural landscape on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Both duo have more than a decade’s experience in conservation, and together they’ve conceptualised the place.
“We all love animals; yet they are misunderstood,” says Pednekar. “The current generation has a huge work load at school and yet has little or no knowledge of how to interact with animals. Some children can’t tell a goat from a sheep. Many would ask, ‘how does it matter?’, but, really, our survival depends on rebuilding the environment. At Prani, all of us believe that humans need animals. A child’s development is enhanced by an understanding and connection with nature and animals,” he explains.
They say nature is a better classroom than any other, and Prani, set up in March last year, shows you just that. “Experiential education is fast turning out to be the preferred teaching approach everywhere. But there is hardly any scope for such a method in the ‘urban jungle’. A child’s development is enhanced by a strong connection with animals as they teach us to be better people. In this backdrop, we foster the innate relationship between humans and animals in a safe, controlled environment,” says Prabhu.
From the last few months, the pet sanctuary has several success stories to share. Mital Salia, a parent whose son was sent to Prani for ‘deschooling’, says:
“Disappointed with the education system, I decided to send my son Rushil to Prani as he was interested in wildlife and environmental science. Prani has been the best school for him since June and he has picked up life skills in such a short time. This would not have been possible through [regular] schools.”
Parent Pooja Hrishikesh explains: “Prani has changed my child’s temperament. My son has gained a lot of confidence working with animals. The hands-on learning he gets at the sanctuary surpasses the learning he gets from his textbooks.”
(G.N.S) Dt. 29