PETA successfully urges Germany to axe the tradition of cockerel beheading

PETA has achieved another success and the world should be thankful to them. The Times reports that the tradition of beheading cockerels at village fairs in parts of western Germany has been stopped after complaints by PETA.

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PETA successfully urges Germany to axe the tradition of cockerel beheading. This image is free to use under an unconditional Creative Common’s licence. It was created by an artificial intelligence computer on my instructions. I therefore own the copyright in my opinion. If you click on the image you will be taken to the original, larger version which you can download by right clicking on it and then following the instructions.

I had never heard of the custom before but apparently it involves blindfolding contestants who have to slash at suspended cockerels with a cutlass. The first contestant to cut the head clean off is crowned the cockerel king.

This traditional fair entertainment is believed to symbolise the banishment of evil spirits. It originates in 16th century Germany. Live birds were originally used but over the past 200 years the suspended cockerels are dead already.

Peter Höffken of PETA Germany said:

“The ban on the bloody ritual is a great success. For decades roosters were killed for the amusement of humans, and their bodies were torn apart in front of onlookers including children. It was long overdue for the authorities to put an end to this sad spectacle.”

The German word for the spectacle is “Hahneköppen”. It is practised in villages and towns in the hills of the Bergisches Land and Eifel regions. It is also practised in the city of Neuss.

A similar blood sport is known as goose pulling in which horse riders try to tear the heads of suspended geese with their hands.

Under German legislation, vertebrate animals can only be killed for a legitimate reason. One such legitimate reason would be to eat the animal.

One prosecution for a violation of that legislation which took place in Wuppertal failed and the action stopped because the defendant organisers of the beheading contest said that the bird was later turned into chicken soup.

Cockerel chopping has been eliminated by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia. A spokesperson for that government said that they had instructed veterinary authorities that the use of animal cadavers for ritual events was not permitted and only dummy birds can be used instead.

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Some information on goose pulling

Goose pulling, also known as Gänsereiten in Germany, is a traditional practice, but with a twist. Originally a brutal sport, it has transformed significantly due to animal welfare concerns.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Historically: A live goose was tied by its legs to a rope stretched across a street. Riders on horseback would gallop and attempt to snatch the goose’s head off. This practice was barbaric and thankfully banned.
  • Modern Twist: Today, thankfully, they use a dead goose or even a dummy goose. The goose is humanely killed by a veterinarian beforehand (if a real goose is used).
  • Celebrations: Goose pulling is still practiced in some parts of Germany as part of Shrove Monday festivities.
  • Controversy: Animal rights activists continue to campaign against the use of even dead geese, advocating for completely dummy-based versions.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Location: Not all of Germany participates in goose pulling. Some towns have completely banned it, while others have adopted the dummy goose approach.
  • Alternative Name: You might also encounter the names Gänsereißer or Gänsekopfrupfen for this tradition.

If you’d like to learn more about the debate surrounding goose pulling in Germany, I can search for some resources about animal rights groups’ perspectives.

Source: Google Gemini.

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