New Zealand's Little Schools of Horror: Kids Engage in Brutal Killing Sprees But Perhaps There Is Some Hope

Warning: The images in the links below are very disturbing, but they need to be spread widely because these killing sprees are horrific and because so many people still do not know what is happening in New Zealand and how kids are used as pawns in killing sprees.

It almost feels like a recurring nightmare. For the past couple of months when I check my email early in the morning, there are messages containing some of the most disturbing notes about, and images of, animal abuse by youngsters that I have seen in a long time. They’re all related to New Zealand’s war on wildlife and their goal of ridding the islands of predators by 2050. A few days ago I posted an essay with a poster from the Orini Combined School containing the message “We don’t care if you trap ‘em or shoot ‘em. it’s all on to clean up the possum vermin in Orini and raise some funds.”

While many people still don’t know about New Zealand’s war on wildlife with the goal of getting rid of all predators by 2050, a good number of people do and are working hard to stop it as soon as they can. Background on this onslaught can be found in these essays and many links therein — “Youngsters Encouraged to Kill Possum Joeys in New Zealand,” “Long-Term Effects of Violence Toward Animals by Youngsters,” “Scapegoating Possums: Science, Psychology, and Words of War,” “Imprinting Kids for Violence Toward Animals,” and “Violence Toward Animals: Can You Please Help My Daughter? Clearly, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

Back to the recurring nightmare. This morning was no exception. Waiting for me were a bunch of messages about a large number of horrific and very disturbing images of youngsters proudly displaying the animals they killed as part of sanctioned school program at the Norsewood school.

Cruelty can’t stand the spotlight.” — Gretchen Wyler

Some good news and the importance of speaking out loudly, clearly, and nicely

While some of the comments that were posted about the horrific event show just how disgusted some people are, and I’ve been told that this and some other events have been cancelled, I’ve also been told that some of these killing sprees continue. It is essential that people who are against them speak out loudly, clearly, and nicely. As Gretchen Wyler has aptly said, “Cruelty can’t stand the spotlight.” It’s about time that there is a nation wide ban on sanctioned killing by schools purportedly “in the name of conservation.” And it’s important to keep the pressure on so that this becomes a reality immediately.

Let’s also hope that those youngsters and adults who are opposed to the killing let their views be known. In an essay called “Violence Toward Animals: Can You Please Help My Daughter?’” I wrote about an email I received from a women who wrote, "I have seen your recent essays on what is happening in schools throughout my country and I am appalled. Thank you for spreading the word. Can you please help my daughter tell her teachers that she does not want to participate in these types of events and contests?" She also mentioned that other parents agreed with her and were at wit's end because people in power were telling the kids it was perfectly okay to harm and to kill the animals and to parade around with corpses of the animals they slaughtered.  

While there still is a lot of momentum and support for killing millions of animals in New Zealand, there also are people who are hard at work to stop this planned slaughter. They and the nonhuman animals need all the support they can get. There is no way that the millions upon millions of animals who are being targeted in New Zealand’s war on wildlife will be killed humanely and compassionately. The incredible amount of pain, suffering, and death that will be experienced is impossible to imagine. Indeed, youngsters could be very important voices who speak out against the mass killings and let’s hope they make their voices heard — loudly, clearly, and nicely.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson); Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation; Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation; Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence; The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson); and The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce). Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do will be published in early 2018. Learn more at

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