The Babyhood of Wild Beasts/Foreword


I believe that every normal human child is born with a natural love for wild animals, and a desire to know them intimately. That this universal instinct sometimes is suppressed, and its tendrils often reach out in vain for something to which to cling, is not the fault of human nature, but environment. It is because of that pathetic desire to know the beautiful wild creatures of the world that we have zoological parks and gardens.

The child or the adult who grows up, lives, and dies without having had a chance to become personally acquainted with a lot of interesting wild animals, loses much out of life.

All healthy children are interested in animals, but most of all are they interested in young animals. Naturally, also, it is the wild babies that appeal most strongly to the great universal motherhood instinct in woman, both tame and wild. I once knew personally a black bear cub that was literally nursed in the depths of a snowy Maine forest by a human foster mother, along with a human foster sister; and both were happy ever after.

If a woman can not write of jungle babies sympathetically and understandingly, who can? With Miss McNally, the love for wild animals and their offspring is no passing fancy, nor a fad of a day or an hour. It is good to know how the little four-handed and four-footed fold impress a perfectly normal, genuine and old-fashioned American girl. It is no cause for wonder that her acquaintance with wild animals should have created a desire to set forth their babies, in word and picture, for the pleasure of others.

Let us hope that old-fashioned human and humane interest in our living wild animals never will die, and that our love for young animals will never grow old. The better we know wild animals in life, the less we will fill like reducing them to a state of death,—and of minimum interest!