Paris, city of love, told to embrace rats

Hawke's Bay Today - - World - France Rory Mul­hol­land in Paris

Rats have feel­ings too, and you should learn to love them, Parisian com­muters have been told by an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign in a city where au­thor­i­ties are wag­ing war to ex­ter­mi­nate the four-mil­lion­strong ro­dent pop­u­la­tion.

“Stop the mas­sacre of rats,” is the slo­gan on posters on the walls of dozens of metro sta­tions.

The posters fea­ture pic­tures of cute rats and de­clare that ro­dents “are sen­si­tive in­di­vid­u­als” that can “feel emo­tions”.

The cam­paign was launched by Paris An­i­maux Zoopo­lis, an an­i­mal rights group that aims to de­fend all an­i­mals whether hu­mans like them or not. The more vis­i­ble pres­ence of rats, caused by flood­ing and in­fras­truc­ture works, first came to pub­lic at­ten­tion in late 2016, with Parisians say­ing they could no longer fre­quent many city parks be­cause of ma­raud­ing ro­dents. Au­thor­i­ties re­acted by clos­ing off a string of parks and gar­dens, lay­ing “en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly” traps and poi­sons and block­ing off sewer en­trances.

Philippe Reigne, the sec­re­tary of Paris An­i­maux Zoopo­lis, said the cam­paign to laud the mer­its of the much-ma­ligned ro­dent may be a world first.

“It is a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage which tar­gets the Paris city hall, the pre­fec­ture of po­lice, and the ex­ter­mi­na­tors [of rats],” he said. “Rats should not be seen as syn­ony­mous with filth.”

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