Greenwich’s Ticking Obesity Time Bomb


Meet the next candidate for a lurid Channel 4 ‘documentary’ about the spiralling epidemic of obesity in inner city areas. The Fattest Squirrel in England, the trailer will gloat, cycling footage of firemen winching him out of his tree so he can visit the animal hospital for his diabetic jab.

I’m wagering this chap hasn’t been feeding solely on a diet of slimline acorns. Just click on the image and check out that wobbly belly; that podgy neckline.  I promise you this photo has not been ‘shopped.

I found him lurking around the bins in the upper part of the park where I suspect he has been indulging in that age-old pan-handling wheeze of posing for photos in return for fast food scraps. Being a cold-hearted Phantom I didn’t crack despite some ‘big-eyes’ acting and his waddling up the path after me  looking hard-done-by. The ‘poor, starving wildlife’ routine loses something when your tummy, however cutely fluffy, gets in the way of walking, let alone scampering.

But it did get me to thinking about how the wildlife of our park is changing. You can’t take a walk through – well any area of Greenwich, now – without hearing the squeaking (and seeing flashes of green) of parakeets, and urban foxes serenade our sleepless nights with mating cries that sound like small children being murdered. A few decades ago a distant sighting of either of these creatures would be a talking point. Now it’s everyday. And much of it is down to us.

I found the entire remains of a chicken carcass + orange all-purpose fast food packaging outside the back door the other day. I don’t eat the stuff, so I can only assume that a fox found it in a bin or, worse, just dumped on the street, and brought over to Phantom Towers for a midnight picnic.

Not that humans feeding rubbish to animals, wittingly or otherwise, is a totally new thing. In the early years of the last century deer roamed freely throughout the park, and had done so since at least 1510. It was mainly to stop day-trippers feeding them a diet of gooseberry tart, orange peel, cloth, paper and mutton bones that they lost their liberty.

There’s no way Tubby Tufty here is going to get fenced in, but it’s just possible that if we keep either directly feeding him and his mates or leaving leftover KFC crap in the bins for him to find, one day, after that final, fateful waffer-thin French fry, Greenwich might boast the world’s first Squirrel Creosote.


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Fat Squirrel
Fat Squirrel

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