A 10-year-old boy from the town of Whangarei in New Zealand came to the rescue of a tiny kitten being cruelly abused by a group of children last week.

Reports state that the kitten — later named Zorro because of the black markings on his face resembling a mask — was being kicked and thrown around by the other kids before the boy intervened.

Once rescued, the kitten was cared for by the boy’s family for the night. Because they already had cats, they were unable to adopt him and delivered him to the care of the Whangarei SPCA.

Luckily, the wee black-and-white kitten did not suffer any serious injuries after his inhumane treatment and will be available for adoption in around four weeks after receiving all his vaccinations.

At this time, it is unknown if the abusers were identified or reported to the police, but the heroic actions of the boy likely saved the life of this innocent animal.

It took a lot of courage for this boy to intervene with a larger group of children, but he clearly knew it was the right thing to do, putting his safety aside to save the life of an animal.

There are countless ways to support the growth of empathy and compassion in children. If you know a youngster who expresses an interest in helping animals, nurture this quality. The Humane Society of the United States has a fabulous free resource downloadable aimed at young animal-lovers.

You can help your kids to learn compassion for animals at home, too; go with your little one/s to the shelter to adopt. If you’re in a position to be a foster carer, involve them in the care of the animals. Or maybe they would like to spend time volunteering at a local shelter, or even hold a bake sale to raise donations for an animal-related cause.

Even simple things like leaving bowls of water in the backyard during summer for local wildlife to drink from, or planting flowers to attract butterflies foster a love and respect for nature.