Monday, March 31, 2008

THE SWISS CAT CONTROVERSY

I couldn't help myself. Yes, we were going on vacation to Europe. But a week before, I stumbled by accident across a piece in the Telegraph in London about a movement to get the Swiss government to outlaw the import, export and trade of cat fur and garments.

It seemed like a perfect piece for the New York Times. And it is! My piece on this odd matter runs in the April 1 editions of both the Times and the International Herald Tribune. And yes, this does make my vacation largely tax deductible. Yay.

In addition to that, I put together a 12-minute video interview as a special edition of The Petcast from our trip to SOS Chats, a 260-cat refuge in the far western mountains of Switzerland where we met Tomi Tomek. She operates the refuge, which is also her home, and has led the movement to get cat fur banned in Switzerland. On the video, Tomi shows us her place, explains the stories behind some of the cats and shows the cat furs she has purchased to prove to the media and politicians that such a trade actually exists.

You can view the video here:


(Sorry, it's too long, evidently, for YouTube. Boo.)

Here are some photos that Miles took while we were up there at the refuge. This is Tomi of SOS Chats...

They have a huge spread for the cats to frolick in...


And the cats have free reign over the outside and the inside...


This is probably my favorite shot. Yes, there's a dog. One dog. And 260 cats. Can you count how many cats are in this photo?


Tomi says she knows the names of each of them and their stories. Here she's being kissed by one as she sits in front of the well-organized medical records for the refuge.


Surprisingly, the place was NOT a stinking mess. It was very sanitary and orderly, probably because they use a LOT of this...


And to give you some idea of where this place was, look at the charming little train depot...


And this is the artsy shot of the village that I took...


In the process of this piece, I also got a tour of the Swiss Parliament in Bern from a prominent lawmaker. Still, there were limits and unauthorized persons, including journalists, can't enter the actual floor of the House chambers. But you can shoot a nice photo through the glass...


Or you can be escorted by a prominent lawmaker into the gallery where you can shoot a photo like this one...


As many readers know, I have a thing for capitals. Mostly state capitals, but I'm starting a national capital collection, too. Bern was the 14th capital I've been to so far. (Others are Sydney, Washington DC, Beijing, Taipei, Bangkok, Singapore, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Seoul.)

So, without further ado, here's the obligatory mug of me outside the capital building...


Peace out. And give a little something while you're at it to SOS Chats. They're performing miracles up there in the Swiss mountainside.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Madame cat lady "purchased" the cat fur to show the trade exists, as she claims, then why is Fluffy still missing!?

Jake said...

That comment makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Nice job, Steve.

Vincent said...

Steve
You geography is a little out.
Canberra is the Capital of Australia and The Hague in the Netherlands.
Though glad to see you have been to our capital London

THE STRIP PODCAST GUYS said...

Aww, shucks. I'm just glad I looked up the capital of Canada before I claimed that one. Thanks for the correction!