I've been thinking about the reported sightings you get from time to time of exotic beasts in unlikely places - panthers and big cats mostly. There are plenty of exotic species now living within these shores - parrots in the London area, escaped wild-boars pretty much anywhere where there's enough woodland and less welcome visitors too - such as non-native crayfish and the blight that's hitting our ash trees.
The wallabies up on The Roaches near Leek appear to have died out, though, it's a good few years since I've heard of any sightings.
It struck me that many of the taller tales tend to appear in the tabloids and the dear old Daily Mail - you know, the Daily Heil or Daily Wail, the paper I wouldn't even use for the most basic of ablutions.
So I've linked that to the paranoia that such papers try to stir up over immigration and asylum-seekers and so on. It's meant to be a bit of a laugh, this one, but I couldn't resist the closing squib ... a bit Ancient Mariner-ish perhaps ...
With a tapir loose on Teeside,
what will the townsfolk do?
There are lemurs loose in Leamington,
a cougar down in Crewe.
There’s a herd of boars in Bolton
and a pack of civet-cats,
strange herbivores along Bexley’s shores
and in Barnstaple, fruit-bats.
With Beasts that prowl on Bodmin,
and wallabies on the Peak,
a giraffe’s been seen on Golder’s Green,
more sightings week by week.
Barn-owls are rare in Bangor
and dormice on the Downs,
but with leopards, minks, exotic lynx,
David Attenborough’s come to town.
He’s filming apes and antelopes,
vast hordes of wildebeest,
a wombat in Wolverhampton,
flamingoes down in Fleet.
There’s a pangolin in Preston,
peccaries in Perth,
no need for foreign travel,
now he’s filming Life On Earth
at the corner of your ring-road,
at your take-away or pub –
a guest orang-u-tan on Tuesdays
at Wistaston Social Club.
So many hints and rumours
it’s hard to find the facts,
(and I’m told there’s now on Fridays
a Johnny Morris Tribute Act).
Across fields so grazed, you’d be amazed
at what animals can be seen,
up in Dunoon, a blue-arsed baboon,
aardvarks in Aberdeen.
With so many fancy creatures
now found across our land,
some think it’s time the Government
should act and take a stand.
That panda up in Prestwick,
that porcupine in Poole,
those camels, lions, cheetahs,
Brighton’s lesser-spotted mule,
should all be rounded up and captured,
imprisoned in a pound,
until our fevered imagination
takes stock and settles down.
Stop writing to The Daily Mail
about footprints, tracks or spores,
putative panthers that pad across our moors.
Let’s take a look around us at such diversity,
let’s help preserve the hedgehog,
let’s help conserve our trees.
Let’s celebrate all living things
that fly or swim or crawl,
make room and space for everything,
life, love and peace for all.