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The surprising ways that city and country kids think about wildlife

As children spend ever more time indoors—eyes fixed upon screens rather than sunrises, ears tuned to Spotify instead of birdsong—they undergo what conservationists call the “extinction of experience.” They no longer have an everyday connection to nature. This extinction is thought to be especially widespread in urban and suburban areas, where kids have are exposed to less wild nature than their rural counterparts. Yet is that really the case?

“Little research has been conducted on children’s attitudes toward wildlife, particularly across zones of urbanization,” write researchers led by Stephanie Schuttler, a biologist at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, in the journal PeerJ. Their study found that “children across all levels of urbanization viewed wildlife in similar ways”—for better or worse.