After learning about California sea lions being sentenced to death for eating salmon in Oregon and Washington, one crafty group of local kids decided they weren't going to take the news lying down. In the past two weeks, Ms. Angela Casey's third grade class at Lafayette Elementary School has put together a delightful, crayon-based political campaign that has managed to catch the attention of animal rights activists and state legislators alike.
Ms. Casey, who happened to see a Facebook post about the sea lion slaughters while planning a marine environment curriculum for her class, decided the story would make a good lesson about how one species can interfere with another. After doing some research that sounds way more involved than anything we ever had to do in third grade, Ms. Casey's class concluded that the sea lion killings were unjust, especially in light of other factors that pose a much bigger threat to the salmon population.
So, the class began writing letters to the Governors of Oregon and Washington, as well as President Obama, asking adorable questions like, "The sea lions of Bonneville Dam have more of a right to eat salmon than you do. Why can't you just fish a different kind of fish?!" Besides fulfilling a letter writing requirement for the third graders, activists groups like Portland's Sea Lion Defense Brigade and Washington-based Sea Shepherd joined the cause and offered to help Ms. Casey hand-deliver the notes to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.
Now the kids are becoming something like local celebrities. State Senator Mark Leno recently applauded the class for standing up for the sea lions, and they've started getting requests to give presentations at other local elementary schools. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (who you might know from their Animal Planet series) has also put out the call for volunteer watchdogs to keep an eye on the sea lions at the Bonneville dam.
So far, the children's efforts have possibly helped save at least one captured sea lion who was adopted by Chicago's Shedd Aquarium recently. That plucky pinniped has been named "Casey" in Ms. Casey's honor.
Previously: Two California Sea Lions Sentenced To Death For Eating Salmon
[Save Sea Lions on Facebook]