Dutch zoo animals must abjure meat on Ash Wednesday

Really? Catholic lions, tigers and bears? Oh my! Well, that’s the presumption based on the actions of a very foolish zoo in the Netherlands.

Alert Dutch reader Gert sent me an email with the following content:

According to De Volkskrant, a leading Dutch newspaper, next Wednesday the predators in the Zoo at Nuenen (in the Catholic southern part of The Netherlands) won’t get their meal because of the celebration of Ash-Wednesday. It is a Catholic practice to fast on this day.

According to the Google translation (JAC: I have touched this up a bit):

The predators of Animal Kingdom in Nuenen will get nothing to eat next Wednesday. For that day is Ash Wednesday, and, as the zoo reports, the lions, tigers and wolves will be fasting.

The seals will have better luck than the carnivores. They will be served herring, a Catholic tradition on the day after Carnival. But the lions and other carnivores will get nothing.

According to Animal Kingdom, it is definitely not harmful to inflict a day of fasting on predators, for in the wild these animals do not eat every day. According to the zoo, such variation in feeding time helps the animals remain alert.

Well, I’ll be! What kind of mentality would make somebody inflict religiously-based dietary restrictions on animals? And the Dutch: a supposedly enlightened people!

What’s next: wafers and grape juice for every beast on Sunday?

79 Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Hey, no problem. I’m sure it will remind them all of the good old vegetarian days in the Garden of Eden, before the human woman and the talking snake screwed everything up.

  2. Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Are those animals also Catholic? This is absurd.

  3. Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Maybe they’re doing that already. I shutter to think what else they’re doing to those poor animals. I’m not picking on the Dutch, in my province in Canada we still let those idiots run half of our publicly funded schools and hospitals. :(

    • jesse
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      It won’t hurt the big cats at least. I worked in the Big Cat house at a major zoo for a short while, and on Tuesdays the big cats didn’t get fed, as routine. It was an effort to mimic what would happen in the wild; wild animals don’t make a kill every day.
      I do however find the religious reasoning behind this zoo’s behavior quite amusing.

  4. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I wonder if a priest will enter the lions’ den to smear the ashes on their foreheads…

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I’d pay to see that!

      • Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:01 am | Permalink

        As would I. but that brings the question, if the lion eats the ash smearer, would they be breaking the lent rules?

  5. SA Gould
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    See, that’s why I come to this site. Had I read this anywhere else I would have thought it was satire.

  6. Rik Houben
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    what if one of the animals is muslim and they feed it pork?

  7. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    This nonsense about the Dutch being enlightened really has to stop. There are enormous numbers of dedicated god-botherers, Catholics and Protestants alike, living in this country.

    Also the one about tolerance; the Dutch are not tolerant, they simply don’t give a shit about many things which exercise passions in other parts of the world.

    For practical purposes it amounts to the same thing of course.

    • steve oberski
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      they simply don’t give a shit about many things which exercise passions in other parts of the world

      For practical purposes it’s far better.

      Give me “I don’t give a shit” any day of the week over tolerance.

      Tolerance means I’ve already come to some sort of conclusion over how someone else conducts their life but I’ll keep it to myself (or ingroup).

      I don’t give a shit means that I’ll mind my own business and not project my biases and prejudices into the public marketplace of ideas.

      • shazam
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        For the sake of argument (and not semantics) I put it to you that not only are the dutch not (or no longer) accepting of others and others’ points of view, but they are a rather revolting collection of uptight know-it-alls who revel in the suffering and misfortunes of others.

        They treat anyone who doesn’t appear to fit into their own narrow-minded mould disgustingly and do not hesitate to make their distaste of foreigners known.

        So, save your definition of tolerance and have a good long look in the mirror and see the depths to which dutch society has sunk.

        • steve oberski
          Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          Going back to the 17th century, Holland was known for it’s cosmopolitan nature, dating back to the 1579 Union of Utrecht Decree of Toleration, providing refuge to the likes of Baruch Spinoza from religious persecution.

          This tradition continues to the present day, one only need look at the history of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who would have probably never escaped from the Muslim bondage of her childhood without the refuge provided by the Dutch state. (And yes I know about the subsequent disgusting treatment of her by the Dutch government).

          Holland has also been on the forefront of implementing rational, humanistic social policies in the areas of euthanasia, same sex marriage and abortion.

          There is no doubt that there may be “a rather revolting collection of uptight know-it-alls who revel in the suffering and misfortunes of others”, but this hardly makes the Dutch any different from any other sectarian grouping of human beings.

          I have no idea if you are Dutch, and I don’t really give a shit, but I find your behaviour revolting.

          • shazam
            Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            News flash: the Golden Age is long gone. Also, Your historical knowledge of Spinoza is incorrect (it was his ancestors that sought refuge in Amsterdam. Baruch was born there)

            The tradition most certainly does not continue to this present day.

            How dare you bring up Hirsi Ali. As you know so well (you did admit the same), she was the subject of a vicious witch-hunt by the racist Rita Verdonk and her overzealously supportive cabinet. A cabinet who lied and deceived and persecuted her. A cabinet that was elected – ergo, supported by – the dutch people.

            Why does she no longer live in the dutch “paradise”, I wonder? She is still a citizen.

            “…this hardly makes the Dutch any different from any other sectarian grouping of human beings.”

            And that is my point exactly. The dutch no longer deserve the titles of “tolerant” and “egalitarian” etc. that they did so well to earn.

            • steve oberski
              Posted February 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              I don’t see that you actually have a point.

              You certainly have not provided a shred of evidence to back up your position, not that your position seems to be much more than you don’t like Dutch people.

              Your case seems to depend on vitriol, abuse and ranting and if I am to follow what passes for an exercise in logic, the fact that it was Spinoza’s ancestors that were welcomed by the Dutch and not Spinoza himself.

              What you say is simply racism, you are generalizing the behaviour of an entire group based on the actions of a few (and I’m sure in your case very few) of it’s members.

              It’s vile behaviour when applied to women, homosexuals, Muslims, negros etc. and it’s just as vile when applied to to the Dutch.

              You are quite simply a nasty mined bigot.

              • shazam
                Posted February 7, 2013 at 3:57 am | Permalink

                Dutch is not a race so how can I be racist against the sutch?

                If you want to know what racism is all about, my friend, try being black in holland. Or Turkish, or Moroccan or Polish in holland for a day. Just a day.

                You’ll soon realise how the pearly-white and blond dutch population discriminates against you all the time.

                Dutch politics are poisoned with racism and bigotry (geert wilders, anyone?). Newspapers have been filled with xenophobia for years and years. The police are insistent on discriminating in order to “do their jobs” (stop-and-frisk… but only do it to the “darkies”).

                Holland is no less bigoted than Italy. No less chauvinistic than France. No more compassionate than Spain.

                You’ll need to go plenty further than calling me nasty, racist or a bigot to undo the terrible state that the netherlands is in.

                The history of dutch society being enlightened is just that: HISTORY

          • Paulo
            Posted February 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            Someone can correct me but if I’m not mistaken, until after WWII, a protestant couldn’t hire a catholic to work in his factory. There was a high degree of segregation.

        • Marella
          Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          You have obviously had a rather bad experience, but I was in Utrecht last year and the place and the people were all lovely. I had a great time.

    • Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      I just want to apologise to our host for apparently triggering some sort of psychotic episode in one of the commenters. Sorry about that.

      • Larry
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        With more than 16 million people in the Netherlands, about 13 million of them considered “Dutch”, it does seem psychotic to paint them all with the same high-volume, high-pressure spray painting gun. I wouldn’t have ever guessed the Dutch could provoke such emotion.

    • M'thew
      Posted February 7, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      And wouldn’t it be nice if the king-to-be decided not to say “So help me God Almighty” when he’s crowned this coming April 30.

      And I want religion removed from our coins.

  8. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Maybe this practice is kind of a joke at the expense of the faithful — if it is already standard practice not to feed these animals every day, they schedule the fast day on Ash Wednesday as a subtle mockery of the Catholics? Or maybe they do it to give the more pious zookeepers a day off to go flagellate themselves or whatever they do.

    I’ll say this much — a day of fasting would not go over well with the little predator who lives here!

    • josgeluk
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I’m a Dutchman, and this is exactly how I take this: I expect the zoo has been planning to skip a day of meat anyway, and just picked Ash Wednesday as a joke. Also, Ash Wednesday is first and foremost associated with the end of Carnaval, and therefore with hangovers and exhaustion from too much partying. Religion doesn’t come into it.

      • jesse
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        I worked in a zoo and indeed one day a week was “no food day” for the big cats.

        • MAUCH
          Posted February 7, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          Are the Catholics or are they imposters? It’s kind of like people that make demented comments in blogs in the guise of creationists.

  9. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Why stop there? If they have to endure religious hardship, I say, baptise them also, so at least they can go to heaven after all that ‘voluntary’ hunger. And why can’t they become altar boys too!

    • lamacher
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Yeah! Let some pedophile priest try buggering a lion!

      • SA Gould
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        C’mon… you know they’d only go after the really little cubs!

  10. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    While it is perfectly normal to not feed animals in zoos every single day (unless of course they are animals with very fast metabolisms that need it, which is not the case with large feline predators), it’s hilarious that animals are forced to play along with Catholic traditions when, according to that very same doctrine, they have no souls so wont be taking advantage of an afterlife anyway.

  11. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    This is just as ridiculous as labeling children with religious labels, in my opinion.

  12. mordacious1
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Hungry catholic predators? I predict children being stalked near the carnivore cages.

  13. Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    That’s the Catholics for you they can’t help dishing out the misery even to the animals.

  14. James Lee Phelan
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Predators don’t eat everyday in the wild and will not be harmed by this superstitious behavior. On a lighter note in the world of animals, it was announced today that the cat is replacing the iron in the Monopoly game.

  15. The Stolen Dormouse
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Since many of the animals involved are not obligate carnivores (e.g., lions and other felids), the zookeepers should at least give the bears and canids some of the berries and other plant food they would eat as part of their diet in the wild. I know my dog loves green bell peppers, as well as nuts/seeds and certain breakfast cereals. [The nuts and seeds are a no-no, according to our vet, however!]

    • jwthomas
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      We don’t mention d-gs on this site :(

  16. shazam
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    The dutch are no longer enlightened people.

    Their society has gone to waste.

    There is nothing left of the old dutch way.

    They’re like the states. They don’t even respect their own constitution now.

    • josgeluk
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      ?? [citation needed]

      • shazam
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Yet another dutch idiot with his head up his ass.

        If you’re too stupid to see that your society is now no better than any other second rate EU country then I say je bent gewoon een stomme klootzak.

        Here’s your citation.

        http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1012/Nederland/article/detail/3389388/2013/02/06/Politie-sloeg-plank-flink-mis-bij-verwijderen-demonstrante.dhtml

        • Stephen P
          Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          So your evidence is a single incident where both police and mayor consider that a mistake was made. And on the basis of that you conclude “The dutch are no longer enlightened people. Their society has gone to waste.”

          Should someone be in need of an example of someone extrapolating well beyond their data …

          • shazam
            Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            OF COURSE the mayor and the police understand that it was a dumb thing to do. It’s bloody unconstitutional, that’s why!

            But holland is full of dumb things lately (meldpunt oost europeanen, anyone?) an it continues to backslide.

            Well, you can try and wipe this away as a ‘mistake’ but, if you read the article you will notice the money-quote:

            ‘Het gevoel van tolerantie, van respect voor andere meningen, is meer en meer aan het verdwijnen.’

            (The feeling of tolerance and respect for other opinions is disappearing more and more.)

            Ask any (yes, ANY) dutch person one-on-one if their society has deteriorated and continues to deteriorate and they will answer in the affirmative.

            • Elu
              Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

              In one of your posts you say that if someone does not have the same opinion as you related to the Dutch society you consider them a “stomme klootzak.” which means “stupid asshole”.

              Then you quote “The feeling of tolerance and respect for other opinions is disappearing more and more.”

              Perhaps you are part of the problem.

              • Veroxitatis
                Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

                “any other second rate EU country” Pray, which may these be and are there (iyeo) any first or third rate ones?

              • shazam
                Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                What I was basically saying is that, if you cannot see how “The feeling of tolerance and respect for other opinions is disappearing more and more” and request a citation then you’re pretty dense. Yeah.

                The fact that so many dutch people will admit that they have a backsliding, repressive society is ample proof that those who don’t get it are pretty dense indeed.

              • DutchA
                Posted February 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

                Spot on. More words on shazam are a waste of time.

                A zoo in Nuenen? Never even heard of it. It’s also not on http://www.dierentuin.com/dierentuinen.html.

                Sounds like a marketing trick to me.

        • M'thew
          Posted February 7, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          Heej shazam,

          ga ff chillen, jongen.

    • Joris M
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      You might have missed we are traditionally only tolerant for those who don’t rock the boat. And accepting of those who don’t bother us.

      Wilders as a xenophobe is on par for the course, society as a whole works around that.

  17. Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Professor! I found this website and I couldn’t keep it for myself. It IS the website that would convert you back to Christianity and make you drop your dangerous evolution nonsense!
    Click here to believe :)

    http://missinguniversemuseum.com/

    • Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      That site has a dodgy web of trust rating, so probably best to avoid going there.

      • Stephen P
        Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Safe enough if you disable Javascript and plug-ins before visiting. Safe enough for your browser, anyway – having read a few pages I make no promises with respect to your digestive system.

  18. Fastlane
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    We could always just feed a few godbotherers to the lions, couldn’t we?

    Please?? For old times’ sake….

    • Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Starting with #17 Mike? (If he’s not a Poe)

      “…back to Christianity”? Oy vey!

    • Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      I think everybody who would base a captive animal’s diet on religious dogma should be fed to said animal.

      b&

  19. Golkarian
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    It’s absurd. But don’t most feeding regimes have fasting days every week. They probably thought “might as well”.

  20. Leon Cejas
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    If all Americans ate on Sundays were a wafer and thimbleful of grape juice, we would probably all be a lot healthier. Provide the wafer was whole grain!

  21. Ludo
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Come on, this has nothing to do with religiosity. This is carnival – popular culture – and it shows that religious symbols, rituals and so on can be freely used for fun and publicity. And that is, I think, more a symptom of the erosion of religiosity than of its revival.

  22. Eli Siegel
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    During Passover pets in Jewish homes do not
    get food containing proscribed grains.

  23. Alektorophile
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a joke/publicity stunt, akin to feeding christmas trees to elephants or painting ostrich eggs on Easter. As someone kind of pointed out above, ash wednesday has become, in popular culture, a day jokingly dedicated to get over hangovers and the excesses of the carnival season, which ends the day before. I grew up culturally catholic in a predominantly catholic area of Europe, and there wasn’t anything remotely religious about carnival and its aftermath. I vividly remember everybody, including the local parish priest, happily eating meat during lent and on any friday of the year. And funnily enough the very first time I ever came across anyone with a smudge of ash on their forehead on ash wednesday was in… New York, and for the life of me I had no clue what it was all about. That goes to show how religion in many parts of Europe has just become part of the wider cultural background, along with the likes of the Grimm fables and the Smurfs.

  24. Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like an Onion article.

    I wonder about the poor animals that find themselves in zoo run by Orthodox Jews.

  25. Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    So is it animal abuse to label animals as Catholic animals! Let’s wait until they’re able to make their own choice about religion. :-)

    • M'thew
      Posted February 7, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Considering the hullabaloo in the Netherlands last year about a beached whale, I should really not be surprised about anything anymore.

  26. DV
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The lions are just glad the zookeepers are not Islamists or they would be getting lashes for lewdness.

  27. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The reasons are utterly, hilariously absurd. The outcome is perfectly reasonable, for predatory animals who don’t, in nature, get to eat every day.
    I shall remember to ask about this the next time that I’m ambling from “coffee” shop to “coffee” shop along the Penis-strasse of Groningen, doing a bit of “window shopping”. Can’t let those Cloggies get away with the idea that they are completely free from resident idiots.

  28. Sastra
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    For that day is Ash Wednesday, and, as the zoo reports, the lions, tigers and wolves will be fasting.

    And, from the direction of the lion, tiger, and wolf enclosures, you will hear the voices arising in the language of the beast:

    “Let us prey…”

  29. Jim Thomerson
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I viewed polar bears eating carrots at a zoo, and queried one of the keepers. She said they had to work at eating them, something to do, and that the carrots would not make them fat. Food as entertainment!

  30. Pray Hard
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Well, I was in a bad mood already.
    How abysmally silly.

  31. Marella
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s like vegetarians who feed their animals a vegetarian diet. I do hope this is a joke.

  32. Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Sorry this is off topic but worthwhile. You must check it out. http://wimp.com/firstplace/

  33. marcusa1971
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I have heard that zoos try to approximate conditions in the wild for predators in captivity – ie feast and famine – which makes sense. But to do this for religious reasons is of course moronic. This is a good example of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, which defines a lot of religion. Of course the rest of religion is doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, so it pretty much all sucks arse.

    • Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      But to do this for religious reasons is of course moronic.

      Not to be pederastic, but, actually, it’s the Catlickers doing this, not the Morons.

      b&

  34. Richard C
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Why does this make me immediately think of Futurama?

  35. Matt G
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Just when you thought Christians couldn’t get any stupider….

  36. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t the lions just eat a Christian? ;)

  37. madscientist
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    In general the Dutch are very liberal (I’ll just ignore many traditions), but not all are enlightened.

    The carnivores are just being emptied so that they have more space in their stomachs for catholics. After all, it’s a catholic tradition to be fed to the lions – or at least it was before Caesar Octavianus became Augustus.

  38. Filippo
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    “The seals will have better luck than the carnivores. They will get herring.”

    Are seals not carnivores? Are fish not made of meat? Would a large feline turn its nose up at herring? (Pickled herring is great!) What is this fatuous distinction between hooves (and paws) and fins, and between land and ocean? What of an amphibian caught halfway between water and land?

    • Matt G
      Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Pinnipeds belong to Carnivora and are part of the dog side of the order. I have no problem with them getting fed as long as they get a fair herring.

    • M'thew
      Posted February 7, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Ah, Catholics. Where’s the time when beavers were declared to be fish, so the clergy could have beaver-fish on Fridays?

  39. Matt G
    Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Are we misreading this whole business? Perhaps this is a joke at the expense of the Christians to point out the absurdity of taking religiosity to ridiculous extremes.


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