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NZ town cans rabbit-chucking contest

Kids' festival fun reduced to hunting pigs

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A New Zealand town has cancelled a rabbit-chucking contest in which local kids were invited to see how far they could hurl a lapine carcass.

The fun event was to have taken place this Saturday in the rural commmunity of Waiau, roughly 120km north of Christchurch, as part of the annual pig hunt. Any rabbits also killed during the festival were to be offered for projection to Waiau's under-14s.

However, the New Zealand Herald reports that NZ's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) slammed the spectacle as "desecration".

SPCA national chief exec Robyn Kippenberger said she had "no problem with people hunting and shooting rabbits - providing it was done humanely".

She explained: "This is something that encourages children to think of dead animals as fun. Rabbits are pests;* killing them is not fun, it's a necessity. Everyone deserves respect in life and death. If someone threw your grandmother after she died you wouldn't like it."

Pig hunt prez Jo Moriarty defended that Waiau was "a rural, hunting town and no one was worried about their children throwing dead animals".

She did, though, later report: "I have spoken to the other members of the committee and we have decided not to go ahead with it. The publicity will not be good for our community. We will be doing something else for the children, probably a beanbag-throwing competition."

If it's any consolation to the good burghers of Waiau, they're not the only rural community to have their animal-throwing activities curtailed. Manganeses de la Polvorosa, in the Spanish province of Zamora, may or may not enjoy its famous goat-chucking spectacle on 24 January next year.

The powers that be have made repeated attempts to prevent locals lobbing said (live) goat from the 15-metre church tower into, hopefully, a large sheet held by revellers below. The whole thing is supposed to be banned, but indignant townspeople may be planning to go ahead as tradition dictates. ®

Bootnote

*The New Zealand Herald notes that rabbits are a bit of a problem in NZ, as they are in Oz. They were unwisely introduced in the 1880s, and quickly reached "plague proportions", eating their way through the landscape.

Government attempts to stem the tide - including tackling the animals with dedicted hunters and diseases such as myxomatosis - have failed, and the feral rabbit population is currently estimated at around 30 million.

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