I’m a bit hesitant to voice my thoughts on another media-hyped animal story after the email hammering I copped for my thoughts on ‘Buckley the Dog’ but I can’t help but get a bit bemused by the media attention and the outpouring of public sympathy over the death of ‘Sam the Koala’ this week.
For those who don’t know, Sam became famous world wide after he was filmed, singed and sooty, taking a drink from the water bottle of Firefighter David Tree during the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, Australia. She became the ‘symbol of hope’ in the face of the devastating fires.
Putting the ridiculous media attention aside – leading stories in newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, thousands of obituaries from the public and crazy awards from PETA freaks – the biggest dampener of this story has to be the fact that Sam the Koala has become the ‘symbol of hope’ for a disaster she wasn’t really a part of.
As reported in Media Watch earlier this year, Sam was actually injured in a back-burning operation a week before Black Saturday. This fact was probably glazed over and underreported for more than a few reasons, but here are two I can think of
–the Herald Sun were making a killing (no pun intended) over the story selling copies of the paper and thousands of ‘Sam the Koala’ posters.
–the Koala brings 1.1 billion worth of tourist dollars to Australia (a fact that Deborah Tabart used as an argument against the culling of Koalas at KangarooIsland – “11% of all tourists said we will never return to your shores if you don’t take care of the koalas.”)
I am not species-ist. I don’t like to see animals suffer and believe it or not I was actually moved by the story of Sam the Koala and Mr Tree. But the media are milking the public sympathy now and as the inaccurate reporting of the story proves the main motivation is the $$$moolah.
Lenny the lamb (a nice addition to my dinner plate last night) didn’t get any obituaries that I could find. Kevin the Cow wasn’t mentioned in the Herald Sun once. And I listened to the radio all day but no word on Castrate the Pig. And here’s another quote that puts a bit of persepctive on all this –
It just seems a little Freddy the Fishy to me.
Anyway, please send all abusive emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And just to prove I like animals, here is No. 3 in the My Backyard series:
An Ode to My Ducks
Duck, stop your waddling and listen.