Thursday, 8 April 2010
Wolf howling, man barking...
It's on the BBC Scotland news website so it must be true.
"A manager at a wildlife park where a wolf broke out from its enclosure said pet hamsters posed a greater threat to the public than the escapee.
The female escaped at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig on Tuesday afternoon, but was recaptured.
Animal collections manager Douglas Richardson said public safety was never at risk.
He said: "There is so much mythology about how dangerous wolves are. Your average hamster is more dangerous."
Top brain boxes contacted by The JT to verify this somewhat surprising assertion were understandably cautious. Rather invevitably, Professor Beaker, calling from wherever he's working this week, chipped in, saying: "One would have thought that oral and written folkloric traditions would've recorded Man's ancient fear of the hamster but we can find no such record. Perhaps the hamsters just ate the books."
There is from Eastern Europe, the fable of the boy who cried hamster once too often, but nothing bad happened to him in consequence so it didn't really matter.
In Scotland, the last wild hamster was killed in 1720, when someone sat on it by mistake. Teams of tame hamsters did feature in Scotland's industrial past as our Professor now elucidates : "Before James Watt invented steam, hamsters would be used to run round and round inside giant wheels to grind corn to make things made of corn, but the last hamster-powered mill closed in 1860 and all records verifying its existence were lost in a mysterious fire, or something."
Animal behaviour experts do concede that hamsters found in the arctic tundra could pose a threat to humans. Operating in packs, it is conceivable that a team of hamsters could bring a human down and rip him to shreds over a period of some months, a process punctuated by the hamsters going for a kip or sitting stock still, staring into space, while ruminating.
Meantime, the park manager this week will demonstrate how safe wolves are by stepping into their enclosure naked and smeared all over with Bisto. Relatives will be informed afterwards and our hearts will go out to them at that tragic time etc.
Inside: No, wer'e not providing the punchline to the gag that starts "why do you wrap a hamster in sellotape?" Children might be watching.