Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beasts terroised Julius Caesar. Now the are back... in Devon

This was the front page headline for The Times April 22, 2009 as I arrived in Liverpool to give a talk on animal incidents at the Animal Revolution symposium at Hope Liverpool.

The article is actually a good political history of cattle. It notes taht the last auroch died in the royal Jaktorow forest in Poland. Heinze Heck conducted Nazi experiments to genetically back-breed modern cattle to the aurock wildness: "The heard has Herman Goering, the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe, to thank for its existence. Goering hoped to recreate a primeval Aryan wilderness in the conquered territories of Eastern Europe" (15).

The Heck cattle were imported into Devon by Derek Gow, a conservationist who also led the fight to re-introduce the beaver into the UK (after several hundered year without the dam animal). He brought them over from a anture reserve near Amsterdam where 600 Heck cattle roam. The animals are particularly fast and a bit agressive. Gow "intends to breed tehm, selecting the more placid animals that are less likely to react to curious pekinese as though it were a maurauding carnivore." Backbreeding to an "original" but breeding out the agression of nature... a curious shifts in standards here for the benefit of humankind.

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