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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Kids' Toys. The Naughty and the Nice

Published 12/22/08
By Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate

This is my first holiday season as a parent and so I’ve become a lot more aware of the various toys that are available for children — some toy makers have been naughty and some have been nice.

I’ve always been a fan toys like Legos that allow children to use their imagination and create — and I actually still enjoy playing with them so, that’s a plus.

However one Lego set leaves little to the imagination — it blatantly glorifies the exploitation of wild animals. The Lego Circus set — complete with elephant, lion, monkey, and a horse.

This is how they advertise it:

“Hip hip hooray! The circus is in town! The big top circus has come to LEGO® Ville! The ringmaster welcomes the audience to an amazing spectacle with plenty of exciting circus acts. There’s a high-wire acrobat with a tightrope, swing and cannon, a funny spinning clown with a cake to toss, and animal acts for the lion, monkey, horse and elephant!”

Urgh! Why don’t they at least make it realistic and throw in a bull hook, tiny cage, a whip, and strap that elephant down with a chain?

And don’t even get me started on the “friendly zoo” set. At least with zoo set you could toss the zoo sign and pretend that this is a wild Africa set ... except there is a panda. Ummm ... shoot! Although, thanks to zoos around the world most kids probably don’t realize that lions and pandas don’t live in the same habitat. Hmmm, maybe the panda could be painted a mauve color and pass for a hippo.

Anyway, now for the Nice.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the “Go Diego Go” line of toys that focuses on rescuing animals in the wild.

Here is how this toy is described.

“Your child can glide into action and go on animal rescue missions with Diego and his animal friends with this playset version of the Talking Rescue Center, as seen on the show! Includes 3.5 inch articulated Diego figure, 5 animals, an ATV, and helicopter with rescue basket. The observation deck includes Diego’s rescue computer command central with 1 LED that flashes to indicate there is a rescue mission to take place.”

Awesome! Now we’re talkin’. I could totally get into playing with this toy with my toddler.

What’s more, there is an entire line that invites youngsters to imagine saving animals in the wild and returning them to their natural habitats.

Next, maybe Diego can go rescue the animals out of the Lego circus. I’ll send that idea in.

Happy holidays!

Blogging off,


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