Animal news time

The Christmas and the early New Year period is traditionally a slow news period. Industries, sectors and organisations slow right down and close, people take holidays and generally relax.

Consequently there is usually little media to report on and few people to report it. It is not unusual to see page-10 pieces bumped up to page-1 stories.

Sometimes the stories are updated to garner ongoing interest; which is standard process for running, topical articles and current events. But what makes this concept so much more entertaining is when this process applies to stories in metropolitan media that are otherwise throughout the year the domain of regional and community publications.

Full of thought-languid puns, cat news, snake news, platypus news and even alligator news has recently taken the headlines amongst bushfire updates and concerns about abuses in other countries.

But recently Scratchy the cat took seriousness to a new level when the feline held up traffic on the Westgate Bridge until the Police arrived to trap him in a box and take him away. Scratchy didn’t go without a fight and ‘hospitalised’ the two seasoned cops with biting and scratching – hence his name, crafted by The Age, but later dropped. Scratchy was so dangerous that vet staff couldn’t even get close enough to identify this wild cat’s sex or age – or so the update told us the next day.

This story was reported in both Melbourne’s metropolitan newspapers and wider still.

Later in the month two kittens, Noisy and Lazy, were either inadvertently or casually robbed along with household goods by a thief who was later caught. The pair was found with the stolen stash by arresting police. Unlike Scratchy these cats were pets and gratefully repatriated back home. Big metropolitan news again, and this time commercial TV news also made mention of it.

The Platypus born into Healesville Sanctuary was bigger news than the usual Herald Sun page-three animal shot – where he also took centre stage. There was the python who didn’t survive flying on the wing flap mid-air on a Papua New Guinea-bound flight.

And let’s not forget Mr Teeth, a guard-gator ‘employed’ by a Californian drug dealer to protect his stash. He didn’t, and the Police reckoned Mr T was so sick, he needed veterinary attention and later died.

Although this can be a pursuit of cheap sensationalism, any efforts that raise attention to improve the welfare of animals are very important.

Coupled with the fact that many pets find themselves being abandoned or handed into shelters at this time of year by short-sighted humans who are not equipped or responsible enough to look after them, light stories about animals hopefully work to encourage people to care more about animal welfare.

As the year kicks in and people return to their routines, harder news will once again take prominence. If slow news is the price to pay for warmer thoughts and awareness about animals then it has its place.

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