Children 'think that lions roam UK fields'

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The Independent Online

Lions, elephants and hamsters are all at large in the English countryside, according to children aged between seven and 14.

Lions, elephants and hamsters are all at large in the English countryside, according to children aged between seven and 14.

A generation reared on television wildlife programmes and visits to safari parks is so ignorant about nature that two-thirds have no idea where acorns come from, says a survey by Country Life magazine. In the latest salvo from the countryside lobby, the magazine calls for a return to the days when pupils were taught to draw leaves, flowers and birds.

The survey found that one-third of children could not explain why gates should always be kept shut in the country. Their suggestions included: keeping in lions or elephants; and stopping cows sitting on cars and halting the traffic.

Eighty per cent of the 650 children surveyed did not know what a gamekeeper did. Suggestions included playing video games, looking after Monopoly, caring for Pokemons and mugging people. Forty per cent did not know in what season harvest fell and suggestions for the origin of acorns included fields, pine trees and squirrels.

Clive Aslet, the magazine's editor, lamented "the raising of a generation of children who are almost entirely divorced from the natural world". He is calling on Estelle Morris, an Education minister, and school governors to include knowledge of the countryside on the timetable.

He has also convened a forum to consider how to promote teaching about rural matters in schools.

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