School criticised for dead possum show

2012-08-01 11:00

Wellington - A New Zealand school that staged a morbid fashion show in which children were encouraged to dress possum corpses in colourful costumes has come under fire from animal lovers.

The contest, part of an annual fundraiser for the Uruti School in the North Island, was unacceptable and thoughtless, the New Zealand Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) said.

Children at the school fitted dead possums in a variety of costumes including wedding dresses and bikinis, then arranged them in comedy poses, such as riding a tricycle and painting at an easel.

"It's not something that can be justified, animals deserve respect whether they're wild, domestic or pets," RSPCA spokesperson Jackie Poles-Smith said on Wednesday.

"We encourage empathy to all animals, even when they're dead, and it's a shame that a school is encouraging its children to do this."

The local Taranaki Daily News ran an online gallery of the dead marsupials under the headline "pimped-up possums" reporting an overwhelmingly negative reaction in its comments section, including "sick", "disgusting" and "psycho".

More cash than expected

Uruti School principal Pauline Sutton said she saw nothing wrong with the children dressing up the dead possums, which are regarded as pests in New Zealand.

"Animals aren't the only species who are dressed up after they die, we do it to humans too," she told the newspaper.

She said the fundraiser, the centrepiece of which was a pig hunt, had generated more cash than expected.

Possums are protected in their native Australia but a pest in New Zealand, where the population has exploded to about 70 million since they were introduced in the 19th century in an attempt to start a fur trade.

Another North Island school was criticised in 2010 for holding a possum-throwing contest, in which students swung possum carcasses around their heads and hurled them across the playground.

- To see a video taken at the event click here.

  • crazyjourno - 2012-08-01 11:51

    Send some to SA. We can feed a nation with them...

  • esther.coetzee.50 - 2012-08-01 11:52


  • dave.prinsloo - 2012-08-01 12:31

    \We encourage empathy to all animals, even when they're dead, \ Now that's just ridiculous, and people who think like that should be ridiculed.

      dave.prinsloo - 2012-08-02 00:50

      to have empathy is to feel another's emotions and feelings. Being dead is neither, it's the same as asking me to have empathy with a stone

  • Teuneman - 2012-08-01 12:34

    Some people put dead chickens in the oven and ROAST them. How sick is that!? The possums are better off I'd say. Lol

      phae.rayden - 2012-08-01 12:56

      But we don't encourage kids to have fashion shows with dead ones, still wearing feathers, at schools for fund raisers.

  • Warren - 2012-08-01 12:42

    As someone who has spent a small amount of time in NZ I must defend the intentions that lead to this event- even if not the event its self: the possums in NZ are destroying the Kiwi countryside, their forests in particular. They are hated by the kiwis as such, and their govt spends a fortune trying to control the population. coincidentally the fir is the softest I have felt on any animal, however a dead one smells horrendous, and as such would not make great eating

      jackie.m.dickson - 2012-08-01 14:50

      But thats the point! Now they bleat that they are destroying their forests? Tough! These animals were taken there by PEOPLE!!! Humans think they are clever and start moving animals etc around and cause big problems. Been done for years & while it may treat one problem it creates a host of others. There is no reason for anyone to want to dress up bodies?! Let alone a principal encouraging her pupils to do it! Sick f&*%os

      Bruce - 2012-08-01 15:02

      Jackie, just what I wanted to say. The same stupidity that took unneutered cats to Marion Island, which killed lots of seabirds as well as the rats. A few neutered cats around the bases and rat traps, would have done the job.

      leanne.zwiegers - 2012-08-01 15:51

      People are over populating the earth and killing off everything in their path yet we dont dress up dead people now do we?

  • mulzar - 2012-08-01 12:45

    Oh cry me a river. They are pests that are exterminated and run over - why not have some fun?This is what happens when extreme boon-bat bunny huggers are given the opportunity to run any society concerning animals.

  • phae.rayden - 2012-08-01 12:50

    What's to stop all schools going to the municipal dumps and collecting dead dogs and cats, maybe some fresh road kill, and dressing them up for a fashion show, what fun, and how beneficial for the development of children's perceptions.

  • jackie.m.dickson - 2012-08-01 14:45

    Sis! Teaching children to do things like that? Isnt the world sick enough for you? If people get dressed up when dead then why not put on a show using human bodies? Maybe a few babies or children too? Sure it would be great fun to dress them up & pull them around? Sorry but that principal is nuts! Vermin or not its not right to treat a body in that way. So the possums are vermin because their population is out of control? Shame! That only happened because humans took them to NZ - they arent indigenous!!! But that makes it ok for humans to behave like idiots when its their fault? Disgusting

  • leanne.zwiegers - 2012-08-01 15:51

    People blame video games and movies for violent behaviour. Seeing children have fun dressing dead animals then putting them out on display and reading some of the comments below...I think the blame should go to society itself.

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