By Bev Schellenberg
Zobmondo is a wonderfully bizarre book crammed with handy conversation starters for parties or family gatherings, as is the board game. Let’s play. The idea is to choose from one of two, weird alternatives, for example: “Would you rather have to kill Winnie the Pooh or Bambi?” Or here’s a question that it probably wouldn’t be wise to ask at an animal activists’ convention: “Would you rather bite the head off a live gopher or thoroughly lick a cat’s butt?”
Having fun yet? Try other questions here.
Granted, these are unlikely scenarios. So here’s a real-life one: would you rather have the right to kill and skin a cat 200 or more meters from your home or have the right to put your goldfish in a fully transparent tank? Under Switzerland’s new animal rights legislation, the correct choice is mandated. The Swiss can kill and skin a cat as long as it’s far enough from one’s property, and sell the pelt. A Swiss goldfish, on the other hand, must have some privacy; therefore, it can’t be kept in an entirely see-through tank.
The Swiss have gone even further to protect their scaly friends: by 2009, fish must be snuffed in a humane fashion. That means immediately after capture (except for the ones destined for that fish tank, I guess) and with a blunt instrument. As well, hooks and live bait can only be used in certain situations, and anglers must take a course in the art of humane fishing.
Sounds to me like there are a lot more fish-huggers than cat fanciers being heard in Switzerland at the moment.
This raises a host of questions. Will the Swiss also have to kill their cats humanely? Would a cat killing a goldfish be humane, or would the cat owner be charged? One couldn’t blame a Swiss cat for reaching out and snuffing the life of a juicy goldfish that swam contentedly around its partially private fish bowl, especially if the cat’s impetus was frustration at the inequality of the animal rights system. Switzerland is the only European country that still permits the sale of cat pelts, although the Economy Minister has promised to end that soon.
Canada appears to be strangely silent about fish-killing practices and acceptable standards, although people the world over know our standards on seal-clubbing. If clubbing a fish is deemed humane in Switzerland, perhaps we can assume that’s the kindest way to end all animal and aquatic life. Too bad we can’t ask the seals.
On the other hand, Canadians don’t have the right to skin and wear bothersome cats. Further, we actually get upset when a cat is tortured or killed, as demonstrated by the case of four Camrose, Alberta teenaged boys who broke into a home in December 2007. As the other teens likely stood and watched, two of the boys microwaved the family cat. The two 16-year olds were recently sentenced to 100 hours of community service each. They also have to get rid of their family dog, can’t play video games, and have a strict curfew. There was no mention of being denied further access to microwaves.
So . . . let’s play Zobmondo again: Would you rather microwave a live goldfish or stop killing other living creatures altogether and not have to worry about humane death methods?
Note: no cats or fish were harmed in the writing of this article.