It's a question most parents have faced at least
once: "Can we get a pet?"
Whether it's a dog, hamster, lizard or goldfish, there's
just something about pets that kids love. And most parents can only
pull off the "when you get older" or "have you
considered a rock?" for so long.
But before you give into your child's demands-or even if it's
too late-head to
Chicago Children's Museum, where the new
"Ready, Pet, Go!" exhibit sheds some light on pet
ownership and lets kids have lots of fun with imaginative play.
"Children love pets. They love to play with animals,
pretend to be animals," says Jennifer
Farrington, president and CEO. "It's a wonderful part of their
social and emotional development."
So the original exhibit is basically a pet fantasy world,
filled with realistic pets (and dragons and unicorns), plus
everything kids need to care for them. The centerpiece is CCM's
"Fantasy Pet," a rainbow-colored amalgamation of
animals that kids can pet, groom and even climb on.
In addition, kids can pretend to be the pets themselves,
resting in an oversized doggie bed or climbing on a kitty
The exhibit was designed with Jemma Jacobsen, 8, of
Hammond, Ind., who created artwork throughout.
And since pets are such an important decision for parents,
the exhibit also includes information on what to think about when
it comes to pet ownership: which animals make good pets, how much
they cost, what to consider about your home, and most importantly,
how much kids can help.
"It's really helping families understand what's a
realistic expectation of every member of the family when you have a
pet and what's developmentally appropriate,"
The museum is partnering with the anti-cruelty society to
sponsor a pet meet-and-greet every Tuesday to provide an "animal
fix" for families who aren't quite ready.
"Everybody's going to have fun," Farrington
says. "We know our visitors are going to love it."
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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