“Holy cow” is an apt reaction from a youth to the blossoming animal tree in Concord that was hatched thanks to one little boy’s offer of a stuffed chicken.
Three weeks and 24 animals (and counting) later, Kathy Gleason’s front yard tree along Crestwood Circle is a feast for the visual senses. Colorful domestic creatures hang from limbs alongside animals accustomed to wilder, more exotic spaces.
The tree’s message for the youngsters is simple: Be Kind to ALL Animals.
“Kids really inspired the idea,” said the 72-year old animal activist, who daily climbs her ladder to add another stuffed animal to the collection.
The assortment of stuffed animals left by neighborhood children by her front door has resulted in the overhead zoo being divided into four sections: domestic, farm, wildlife representing land animals and species from the sea.
“I am thrilled the kids like it,” she said. “They come to see what animals are new and count them.”
Looking at global impact
For each animal that goes up in the tree, Gleason does a little research for a posting on her Facebook page about that particular animal’s current fate in the world.
On May 6, she posted: Fuzzy bear climbed into the Be Kind to ALL Animals tree today. He has a lot to say about cruelty to bears globally, from roadside zoos and circuses to trained dancing bears in Turkey to bear bile farms in China. A reminder – we are currently being forced to look at the global impact from mistreatment and cruelty to animals.
“I have found that there is not a single animal that is not being mistreated in the world,” Gleason said.
Beyond the simple message Gleason has for the children, she leaves it to their parents to share the other information that she is learning about each animal.
Going beyond bears
The animal tree is an offshoot of the phenomenon of placing bears in residential windows, which was designed to entertain the increasing number of families who have been going on daily walks in area neighborhoods as a respite to the local shelter in place requirement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Gleason’s array of animals has expanded, it’s not only the children who are finding joy in them. Adults also are getting a kick out of the sight.
“They need a smile and something positive, too,” Gleason noted.