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WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM Why Are Children So Interested In Animals, Anyway?  Of course, adults should closely supervise this play to ensure the safety of both animals and children. The opportunity to express themselves as they wish in front of animals is, for some children, a liberating and valuable quality in the relationship. Exciting Abilities Children also find the “magical” qualities of animals in stories and media appealing. Animals often have special powers. They can fly, see in the dark, move with extreme speed, live underwater, scare away monsters—​things that children wish they themselves could do. In real life, animals also have special powers: echolocation, acute senses of smell and hearing, the ability to live underwater, climb to the tops of trees, fly, hibernate, freeze, burrow underground, jump high, breathe underwater, walk on walls, hang upside down, and more! These exciting abilities make animals appealing and in- stantly captivating for children. Because they have special abilities, these animals hold children’s attention and can be great teachers. Children’s love for animals and their many abilities can be expressed through pretend play. When children can play at being animals, they’re free of the limitations of being human! They imagine that they can climb the tallest trees and swing from vines and branches. They can fly in the clouds, swim in the deepest oceans, or strike fear into the hearts of weaker, smaller creatures. Playing with these fantasies is not only fun, but it can help chil- dren feel powerful and strong, too. As discussed in chapter 3, it also helps children build empathy and compassion toward animals and other people and deepens their positive feelings for them. Processing Feelings For many children, animals, especially pets in the home, represent safety and security. They are familiar, they are safe to talk to, and they are a source of comfort and love. Because animals are appealing and reassuring, they are often a source of comfort that children will seek out to process their feelings. When my own children reacted with fear to a loud thunderstorm, it was comforting to them to see that the dog was also afraid. As our dog Nina paced around the bedroom and whined, the children spoke in soothing tones to COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 21