The international response to Australia’s bushfire crisis has been heartening, and, at times, heartbreaking. Dozens of North American firefighters have volunteered to supplement emergency response efforts around the nation, losing three compatriots in the process. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had received offers of military and firefighting personnel from regional powers like Singapore, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. Even the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu donated $250,000 to assist bushfire victims, a mark of respect and shared pain which shouldn’t be forgotten.
Then there’s this guy, a TV personality from the British version of The Apprentice, who reckons we should raise money for wildlife rehabilitation by selling the fur of koalas who’ve died in the fires.
Ryan-Mark Parsons appeared on Good Morning Britain yesterday to present his bold pitch, saying he “absolutely” has an eye on the net worth of each koala’s fur and its potential to be repurposed into luxury goods.
“I completely agree what is happening in Australia is utterly devastating, and as a result the koalas have died,” Parsons said.
“But the animals are dead. And if we can use the fur to raise money to save the other animals, I don’t see why that’s an issue.”
His mercenary idea was shut down by everyone else on the panel. Animal rights campaigner Wendy-Turner Webster diagnosed fire-roasted koala-skin goods as “fundamentally wrong”, saying there are countless ways to help that don’t stimulate the dire fur industry. Co-host Ben Shephard also pointed out that flaunting koala fur products as a luxury good could stimulate poaching – which is the last thing those gumleaf-munching goofs need right now.
Parsons was insistent, though. “It’s about memorialising the animals,” he said, saying a scarf made of marsupial hide would be a fitting tribute to the estimated 1 billion animals to have perished in the recent blazes.
While breakfast TV is hardly a place for debating in good faith (Good Morning Britain recently hosted Australian MP Craig Kelly for the apparent purpose of calling him a dunce), Parsons deserved to have his idea patently stupid idea dismantled on national television. If you feel like getting worked up over an argument which Parsons probably doesn’t believe in himself, watch the clip below – and then chuck some money to your local wildlife rehab charity, who won’t hawk koala corpses for ‘charity’.