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A unique sanctuary where children commune with rescued animals

Sandesh M S, Bengaluru, DH News Service, Feb 19 2018, 16:04 IST

The sprawling two-acre sanctuary is teamed with animals and birds of different varieties.

A visitor would hear an odd squeak here, a grunt there and the constant voice of Sanjeev Pednek narrating the story behind each animal's arrival to the farm.

"A few were almost dying. They panicked at the sight of a human being. Handling them was initially tough," Pednek said, rubbing a raw wound. "This happened when we rescued Maya, the female horse," he added proudly.

The Bengaluru-based herpetologist and conservationist started this place as a way of familiarising children to various animals, teaching them to treat the creatures with kindness and love. He named the place 'Prani', quite aptly so, given the number of pet animals rescued from the most challenging of circumstances.

The farm houses horses, ponies, geese, ducks, sheep, goats, cocks, rabbits and turtles, with whom children are taught to interact. "They'd have probably seen a dog or a cat. This is the place where they get to know more about other species," Pednek said.

Extended classroom

The farm is an extension of the classroom where children learn about the roles of each species in nature. That includes the rodents, which are not looked at very kindly by city dwellers. "Be it a rat or an insect, every creature has its own role on earth," he said.

The three-and-a-half hour guided tour around Prani would allow children to interact with 200 different animals. Unlike other places, children here find the animals friendly.

Pednek is glad to notice the wide-eyed wonder with which children view the beasts.

"Today, nature has become a business," he regrets. "As children, we used to see most of these animals in our backyards. Concretisation of the city has destroyed their habitats and children don't even know the names of some
insects."

Children as volunteers

The pet sanctuary has received encouraging response from visitors, some of whom have asked their children to stay back and be a volunteer here, too.

"When children are left outdoors, they learn many things from nature like decision making, social responsibility, mutual respect and self-confidence. Nature is the best teacher," he said.

Pednek and his team rescued these animals from different parts of the country. They go to great lengths to make them feel comfortable, even if the panicked animals try to attack them.

Once housed in Prani, the animals get used to the natural environment.

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