|The following article first appeared in The International Harpoon, No.5, 1994, published by the High North Alliance, and is reproduced with the author's permission.
Not One Penis More!
"It's Enough to Make You Cry" Says IFAW
Inspired perhaps by the enormous attention that focused on the plight of John Wayne Bobbit, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has come up with a novel way to milk its sacred cash-cow, the Newfoundland harp seal.
This year the Newfoundland sealers have a quota of 50,000 from a population estimated to be growing by 300,000 to 400,000 a year. According to IFAW founder and chief beneficiary Brian Davies, that translates into 60,000 (sic) seal penises destined for the bars of Shanghai to perk up the peckers of flagging Chinamen.
With fingers (and legs?) crossed, Davies launched a fundraising campaign this February purporting to have uncovered a Chinese syndicate "looking to buy 60,000 seals and hack off their penises for aphrodisiacs. It's enough to make you cry."
IFAW then fed a motion to British MPs condemning the deal to provide "50,000 seal penises and other products" to Shanghai, asserting that "the slaughter of seals primarily to provide an alleged aphrodisiac is as obscene as it is absurd," and calling on the Canadian government to put a stop to it.
What happened to the extra 10,000 penises Davies threw in for good measure is a mystery. But 116 MPs signed anyway - an even better reason to cry.
Reporter Adam Nicolson of the Sunday Telegraph then set off to Newfoundland to do what the MPs should have done - check the facts.
Dr. Cosmos Ho
The IFAW fabrication, as Nicolson reports it (Mar. 27), is based ever so loosely on a deal between Dr. Cosmos Ho, a general practitioner and fish processor for 20 years in St. John's, and the Shanghai General Fish Corp. owned by the Chinese government.
Following the collapse of Newfoundland fish stocks so hard on the heels of the seal pelt markets in Europe and the US (IFAW's doing), Ho turned to the Far East to stay in business, making contact with Shanghai through family connections in Hong Kong.
Chinese people already consume a lot of fish oil capsules to ward off heart disease, so Ho offered to supply seal oil which is supposed to do the same job even better. It also contains a substance found in human milk called DPA, which may be beneficial to babies born prematurely. Ho would also supply Shanghai with pelts to be made into clothing. But penises?
Ho is quoted as almost shouting, "They were never even mentioned. Shanghai does not buy a single penis!"
Ho also explained that it would be impossible to obtain 50,000 penises (let alone 60,000) from 50,000 seals, as seals can't be sexed from a distance, and only the "old dogs" are sufficiently well hung (six inches plus) to make it worthwhile swinging the knife. Ho predicted a haul of just 7,000 marketable penises this year, which would be sold "to anyone who wants to buy them".
Nicolson then spoke to Garry Troake of the Canadian Sealers' Association. "We've always sold them," he said. "My father and grandfather ... sold them to the people in the Chinese laundries in St. John's. They said they used them for starch - but they didn't say what they were planning to stiffen."
Nicolson slams the book shut on the organ trade: "The 7,000 or so seal penises will be sold to the large Canadian Chinese communities in Toronto and on the west coast, where they will powder them and sprinkle them in tea."
He also asks his readers to close the book on IFAW: "At best the IFAW, seeing that seal products were to be sold to the Chinese, jumped to some wrong conclusions and then gently led the British MPs by the nose. But if that is the charitable conclusion, it is probably the wrong one. The IFAW has been concerned with sealing for more than 20 years. It would be extraordinary if it did not already know that the old dogs' organs were regularly sold to the Canadian Chinese."
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