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Possum Tossing For Fun?

Possum Tossing For Fun?

A peculiar activity in New Zealand called possum tossing is rightly generating controversy. The game, as the name suggests, involves people holding dead possums by the tail and throwing them as far as they can.

A recent poll shockingly found 60 percent of participants favored the practice. For some, it is seen as recreational. The tossing game was recently encouraged at a school in rural Manawatu.

Does encouraging the practice of possum throwing, teach children that animals exist for human recreation? Possums are killed in New Zealand as pests. But throwing them once they are dead seems to be exploiting something that is entirely defenseless. It appears to be a way of teaching children that controlling, and also degrading, wild animals is okay.

In Western culture, the mental health term called sadistic personality disorder, pertains to people who enjoy inflicting pain. One of the criteria for the disorder is, “is amused by, or takes pleasure in, the psychological or physical suffering of others (including animals).” The particular type of sadism related to animals is zoosadism, and it means the practice of cruelty to animals for pleasure.

The fact that a school encouraged children to participate in possum tossing as a fun activity is both mystifying and shocking. One defense of possum tossing is that it is a cultural practice, and should not be looked down upon in an elitist, judgmental way. However, not all cultural practices are healthy. Unhealthy cultural practices should be discontinued for the damage they cause.

In this case, it seems there is no apparent rational reason to teach children to be cruel to possums. Possum tossing could create a negative perspective towards all animals for children who are taught it is fun. Teaching cruelty to animals to children is the exact opposite of what schools should be teaching. According to a BBC article, an animal welfare group is going to talk to the school.

Image Credit: wollombi

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Read more: Healthy Schools, Pets, Wildlife, , , ,

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8:19AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

Just wrong on all levels. Animals should be respected and appreciated dead or alive..No wonder that animals are brutalized,neglected and ultimately killed in all corners of our world...when there are educators and family applauding and suggesting these atrocities on animals then the future generations will continue with these awful traditions and animals will simply cease to exist. I'm so disappointed with Mankind.

12:43AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

Thanks for the post.

6:16AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Why don't we toss dead human babies and see how the humans feel?

4:00AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

how creapy

3:39AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

That is sick. It shows great disrespect for animals.

3:39PM PST on Dec 17, 2011

I don't care what country a person is from, what culture and practices passed down through the generations, these people should be prosecuted. there should be a universal Animal Rights law like the one for human rights that Eleanor Roosevelt put together and got passed at the U.N. level.......and it should be strictly enforced and this might end......animal cruelty and abuse, or at least be lessened a great deal.

12:37AM PST on Nov 27, 2011

Teaching children animal cruelty is about the worse thing I have read today. What are they thinking?? It's basically teaching them to have no respect for life. Any life! And no respect for the dead, either. So kids grow up with no morals, no standards, no compassion, and these are our future leaders? Just think about that and let it sink in and reflect on those results, this is not the good life we are supposed to strive for, is it?

4:33PM PST on Nov 26, 2011


2:33PM PST on Nov 26, 2011

There is no reason, good or bad, subjecting an animal to this type of abuse, whether dead or alive.

It would be nice if it could be stopped. Perhaps we can send these people a few items made for distance throwing.

7:04AM PST on Nov 26, 2011

Just horrible!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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