It says an awful lot about our species, when you consider the way we humans sometimes approach problem-solving: If all else fails, we make the problem go away by eating it.
I used to think this was a uniquely American trait - seeing how many people in the U.S. could easily swap out their stomachs for trash-mashers with little discernible difference - but now I am not so sure our nation has exclusive rights to this kind of bad taste.Here in the States we are in the midst of horse-racing season, and the nation is still reeling from a tragedy on the racetrack immediately following the Kentucky Derby, when the lone filly to run (she finished second!!) sustained a fatal injury and was euthanized on site.
So I was horrified to learn of an even worse fate visited upon a first-place Derby winner back in 1986, a big brown horse named Ferdinand, who was ridden to victory by the legendary American jockey Willie Shoemaker. Ferdinand did not experience similar glory as a stud, and he was something of a failure in Japan too, where his American owners shipped him eventually, for a second try at procreation.
Ferdinand posed a problem - he was now too old to race and he did not produce a new bloodline of future champions. So he was taken to the slaughterhouse in Japan and converted into something edible. And that is how a Derby winner, and the 1987 Horse of the Year, met his end.
I think of Ferdinand now as I read of one solution to Britain's unfortunate influx of aggressive eastern grey squirrels - a non-native species that never asked for such immigration status. They are, for the most part, reviled, hunted and killed because they displace the beloved native reds - and the latest solution is to serve them up on the dinner plate, energizing the local economy, bringing a boon to butcher shops and posing a fun challenge to creative home cooks as well.
I'll have none of that, thank you. It turns my stomach to think we humans, for all our cleverness, have chosen to think with our appetites instead of our minds. We are a sentient species and yet, for all of that, the best we can come up to solve various problems is to slaughter a champion horse (one of many to have met such a fate, I've been assured) and a challenge to creative cooks everywhere to fry up some squirrel.
The worse tragedy here, I fear, is that people really believe this is the best we can do. I'd like to think we as a species can do better. At least I hope and pray we can.