London 2012: Olympics ceremony animals to be spared the chop
Selection for the Olympics is not normally a matter of life and death – until now. Danny Boyle, who is directing the Opening Ceremony, has said he will "vigorously" ensure that the two goats, three cows, 10 chickens, 10 ducks and 70 sheep due to take part in the show are spared.
He has written to Peta, the animal rights group, insisting that he will "follow up" its suggestion that the ceremony animals be retired to sanctuaries rather than ending up on the nation's dining tables.
Peta has past form. After shooting Babe, about a pig which wants to be a sheepdog, the director Chris Noonan went to considerable effort to ensure that the 48 piglets used in the film were not eaten.
In his letter, Boyle also says that "genuine care will be taken of the animals", including judging how they react to the stadium environment. He says they "will feature only in the very beginning of the show during daylight hours and will leave the stadium shortly after the 9pm start and before any large effects or noisy sequences take place".
Of the hundreds of thousands of athletes, performers, volunteers and others involved in the Games, the animal stars will be among the last to be chosen.
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