I strongly believe that to change the way we view and treat animals we must first begin with how we educate children to interact with the animal kingdom.

Until a child understands the importance of the wolf to our eco-system, the cruelty involved in making garments from the fur of baby seals, or the key role a dog or cat plays in the life of a family, he or she will never learn to treat animals with the respect and care they deserve.

One Connecticut institution with a strong animal education program for children is the Sea Research Foundation's Mystic Aquarium. I am particularly encouraged by its new exhibition "National Geographic Crittercam: The World Through Animal Eyes," a 6,000-square-foot traveling exhibition developed by the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibition opens on February 9th and runs through the end of 2011.

Crittercam is a scientific video-and-data gathering tool safely worn by wild animals. Through the Crittercam, researchers gain valuable insights into animal behavior, including clues for protecting animals in the world we share.

Invented by Greg Marshall, a National Geographic marine biologist, Crittercam allows us to enter the world of seals and sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, whales, penguins, bears and lions. In each section of the exhibition, we learn how these animals communicate, hunt, feed, care for their young and attract mates. Most of this information comes from the point-of-view footage gleaned from the Crittercam.

The extraordinary Crittercam footage includes life as seen by loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, the hunting and migratory behaviors of several shark species, and the world of Penguin Ranch in Antarctica where youngsters can crawl through a tunnel and pop up in a bubble to come face-to-face with a penguin wearing a Crittercam. On exiting the tunnel, children can view footage of themselves from the penguin's perspective.

Although this is an aquarium, cats and dogs wearing Crittercams are featured along with footage showing a young Alaskan bear cub napping, feeding and traveling with its family, as well as a lioness hunting, tending to her cubs and sharing a meal with them.

One feature of the Mystic Aquarium exhibition I know children will really enjoy is an opportunity to design their own Crittercams using Build-a-Cam. This incredible technology opens up whole new worlds of understanding the delicate balance existing in the animal kingdom.

The Mystic Aquarium is located at 55 Coogan Blvd. in Mystic, Conn., 860-572-5955. The aquarium is a division of the Sea Research Foundation, whose mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.

During your visit make sure that you see New England's only beluga whales, more than 20 African penguins and Jetty, the sea lion pup.

New Canaan resident Cathy Kangas is a member of the Humane Society of the United States' National Council. As the owner of PRAI, an international cosmetic corporation, she started Beauty with a Cause, and commits a percentage of her company's profits to help animal welfare organizations around the world.