This post should not be read by 7-9 year olds in possession of a new Oxford Junior Dictionary. Their world doesn’t need natural words rampaging through it.
Heaven forbid they should come across an adder in the clover, or a boar eating acorns, when looking for blackberries outdoors.
They should be wary of drakes and cygnets if some adult takes them hunting for minnows near the willow tree. They should not countenance meeting talking beavers amongst the brambles.
Of course, they are safe from budgerigars, gerbils, goldfish and guinea pigs – schools don’t waste time on pets. Let cheetahs and bullocks be confined to TV documentaries. It is not necessary for anyone but minorities to know a colt from a foal, or a doe from a buck. Who else but their owners cares about ferrets or corgis?
A much more serious riposte can be found here in an Open Letter to OUP . I think it is truly important – but I couldn’t put better than the likes of Margaret Atwood and Michael Morpurgo. Please read their argument.