Lock up your livestock, Rebecca Loos may have been ‘bothering’ farm animals again.
The French cockerel is now an endangered species, according to articles published by the BBC and the Telegraph (the latter I don’t read, I hasten to add) on Monday. Thanks to Céline for bringing this to my attention.
Le coq has long been a semi-official emblem of the French nation, originally adopted because the Latin word ‘Gallus’ meant both ‘Gaulois’ (note for non Astérix readers: the Romans called France ‘Gaul’) and cockerel. The French people adopted the rooster as their emblem, appropriate as it rather conveniently symbolised qualities like vigilance, courage and fighting spirit. The Telegraph also mentions arrogance, but unsurprisingly that particular character trait is not alluded to on French government websites. A popular symbol during the French Revolution, the bird fell out of favour temporarily during the reign of Napoléon, who wasn’t convinced that a farmyard animal constituted a regal enough emblem and replaced it with an eagle. The bird has featured on coins, stamps, the flags and uniform buttons of the Garde nationale and can be seen on the entrance gate to the Elysée presidential palace. And, last but not least, it adorns my lovely coq sportif trainers.
The recent discovery that only two hundred of the brightly coloured French roosters remain prompted measures which would not have been out of place in a science fiction film. French scientists have cryogenically frozen sperm samples from the most handsome of the remaining birds so that should the breed be wiped out by avian flu, for example, it would be possible to ressurrect le coq by inseminating ‘normal’ hens and cross-breeding their offspring.
Does that mean coq au vin is definitely off the menu?