Some of the less-than-polite animals that live in the wild have been victims of a relatively new trend that involves tossing them into the pit of stress – Halloween.
As holiday events go, it’s definitely not a peaceful occasion. The struggle of preparing that first costume can become an existential struggle for the mammal unlucky enough to have to slink into it. Better prepare yourself for a slow pre-bedtime rummage through your closet.
Now, the folks at the Pennsylvania-based wildlife preservation organisation the Nature Conservancy have stepped in to inform you that it’s not just cute little Leprechauns that get mistreated as the occasion approaches, but even some less-cute mammals like bats, foxes and skunks.
It might come as a shock to discover that not all of these creatures suck a ton of fun from your parties. Turns out not every Halloween puts a spin on the pumpkin jack-o’-lantern.
The Nature Conservancy’s Halloween Lanterns campaign involves web videos that are set against sinister piano notes, coke-bottle clinking and scenes featuring a spider and a rotting cat carcass. As the website says, “this is not a children’s film, it’s an action adventure full of high action and dark realities, different from those typically associated with Halloween.”
If your group gets the pre-party nerves, they even provide a video guide to safely handling the various household critters.
The Nature Conservancy and its partners have been monitoring the state of wildlife for more than a century. They published a report on the state of wildlife in Pennsylvania in 2014. It found that the number of reported cases of name-brand murders by lynx jumped 34 per cent between 2009 and 2013, while the tally of masked suspects for skunks also increased, though less sharply.
The Nature Conservancy says it has offered Halloween advice for folks for the last 20 years, but this has become a particularly pressing matter in recent years with the animals’ increasingly prominent Halloween roles.
One key idea is to keep domestic pets in kennels or away from Halloween activities, so they can’t screw with your troop of school-yard gorillas. And that means explaining some context to kids about the misunderstood creatures that add colour to the display with their delicious scents and bizarre shapes.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviewed biologist Robin Bassick about the importance of reminding kids that lots of highly-endangered animals have “no place in Halloween costumes,” especially creatures like lions, tigers and jaguars.
But in some ways, the Nature Conservancy is tackling the sentiment of Halloween, animal rights groups, animal rights advocates and horror movie buffs who insist that spiders just aren’t that scary. Is any of this stuff really that creepy? People have Halloween parties at every single day of the year. We invite children to accompany us to the vet to pick up the phantom limb of our pet dogs or howl at our cats at night. Why shouldn’t we do it with the beasts that, if nothing else, just look spectacular dressed up?
One might expect that most people would probably not bat an eye at Halloween nights like Halloween Nights, when the infamous “Fake Zoozoo at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium” (I have to get a hold of these folks, because the whole thing is ridiculously ridiculous) says hi.
But if not for that commercial pop-culture moment, I’d bet most people would never know about the true meaning of this Thanksgiving-to-Halloween holiday. In my house, our front porch is always decorated in the same exact way, whether we are celebrating Halloween or Thanksgiving.
But Halloween sells all kinds of things. The grotesquery of creating a caged zoo of poisonous snakes in plastic bottles is a pretty nice deal, too. I love the idea of taking a box of chocolates and spraying them with a hose of poison. That’s spooky, Halloween fun, but serious enough to be worthy of being printed on a piece of paper from Macy’s.
None of it is as scary as a leech being thrown out of the window.
I am a creature in the wild, and so are you. So take it from us, do not try to trick or treat me – but instead, enjoy my spooky costumes while you can.