Spotty Logic (spottylogic) wrote,
Spotty Logic

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Little-known facts:

The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) was originally a domestic species, bred in England, specifically Glauchester, for the ancient and respected tradition of the pillbug hunt. The tradition of the pillbug hunt had largely died down under the reign of Duke Edwin "The Gentle," who strongly discouraged trophy hunting during his 15-year tenure.

In the centuries before Edwin's ducal reign, though, the sounds of "Pilly-Ho!" were nearly as common as the call of the wren. Teams of six to eight riders raced through the woodland, a fennec at the lead. The animal's keen ears would pick up the pillbug's rattling cry, and he would flush it out. The hunting party would then pursue their quarry with nets and tongs, and later, muskets.

In the luxurious manor-houses of the well-born, a studio was often set aside for trophies and mounted figures of the various foxes, stags, and isopods brought home from the hunt. As the crush of the rising middle class moved to the cities and spacious rooms became more of a luxury, the small size of the British pillbug led to a brief vogue of traveling trophy exhibits or "pillboxes," some of which were sold in dusty back rooms to let even the gentry participate in the spirit of the hunt.

As Edwin dissolved the hunting lodges, packed away the red coats and shiny carapace-like hats, the question of what to do with the hundreds of well-bred and sturdy British fennec foxes became a subject of heated debate. It was cruel to keep an animal designed for grace and speed locked in a stable. Deprived of their excercise and the chance to groom themselves, their ears, which grow throughout their lives, would threaten to weigh down their heads. Deprived of the opportunity to abraid their ears on rocks and low-growing tree-limbs, the poor creatures, unable to lift their heads, would starve to death.

Thus, in 1750, the fennec population of Great Britian was shipped away to Africa, there to establish the royal colony of Magneria (literally, "land of big ears.")

--Encyclopedia Malarkia, 1986 ed.

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