BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor
« Previous | Main | Next »

Paper Monitor

12:06 UK time, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Readers' appetite for strange animal tales has been proven by scientists to be essentially bottomless.

So while the front pages may be wall-to-wall fat cats, elsewhere there is ample evidence that animals of the metaphorical variety can't compete with the real thing.

The Daily Express, for instance, has along with many others a full page splash on the friendly fox living in the Eddingtons' one-bedroom flat in Ditchling, East Sussex.

Animals acting like people has long been a favourite and, as long as there are cute pictures, a sure-fire winner.

Miss Snooks, as the fox is called, duly obliges with suitably anthropomorphic images of her sitting on a chair watching TV ("Is Basil Brush on yet?" wonders the Daily Mail), and curled up in a duvet. Aaahhhh!

Paper Monitor would speculate endlessly on why people never tire of these stories but is momentarily distracted by a picture in the Daily Mirror of a man squeezing the nether regions of a lion, nicely illustrating the next category of animal stories - strange man-beast relationships.

This one's between British park ranger Alex Larenty, working in South Africa, and Jamu the lion. The testicle grope is a technique he uses to make friends with his charges. Paper Monitor certainly admires his balls.

But when an animal story turns tragic the papers are not quite sure how to treat it.

Travis the chimp had been brought up for 14 years by his US owner Sandra Herold, as if he was one of her children.

Over the years, he appeared in a number of television adverts, could log in to a computer, dress himself and loved eating steak and watching baseball.

But on Monday Travis went berserk, seriously mauling a family friend who is fighting for her life in hospital. Travis was shot by police and limped back to his cage to die.

Having provided years of curiously human animal tales for the media, suddenly Travis's is a tale which no longer fits the cuddly category.

The tale is treated as a straight news story by the Guardian, which has no accompanying picture.

But the Daily Mail has a couple of pictures of Travis in better times, which reminds readers that animals - especially the most humanised ones - can be mourned just like people.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.