In an interesting post on the Rain Forest (3:08 PM today, if the precise link doesn't work), No Watermelons Allowed writes:
If you want to save a species, make sure it has commercial value. Nobody is worried about cattle, hogs, chickens, rice, corn or wheat going extinct.
The quotation doesn't seem to be available on the web, but I believe it was James FitzJames Stephen who said "if all the world were Jews, there would be no pigs at all". This is only a slight exaggeration of the truth. Celebes (Sulawesi) and neighboring Indonesian islands are home to the babirusa, a species of wild pig that is remarkably ugly even by pig standards -- uglier than a warthog. The aptly-named and very impressive Ultimate Ungulate site has pictures. There are only 4000 babirusas in the wild, although (or because) the locals, being Muslims, are (I assume) not allowed to eat them.
There have been suggestions that the babirusa might be kosher, since it has horns, cloven hooves, and a multi-chambered stomach like a ruminant. But the horns are actually bizarrely-formed teeth and it does not seem to chew its cud, so it is not in fact kosher, and (I imagine) not halal either. This is too bad, since, as I read years ago in (I think) The Wall Street Journal, pigs are more efficient than other domesticated mammals when it comes to turning small amounts of vegetables and garbage into large amounts of high-quality meat: a kosher/halal pig would therefore be a very good thing for impoverished Muslim or Jewish areas, assuming the locals could be convinced to eat them. Perhaps such a beast could be genetically engineered.
No word on why the scientific name is spelled Babyrousa babyrussa: was the beast discovered and named by an illiterate taxonomist, or is this some kind of joke?
In researching the babirusa, I ran across a few amusing web-texts:
1. Zoo Torah tells us that the babirusa is not kosher, but the giraffe is, and adds:
Incidentally, it is a myth that giraffes are not eaten because we do not know where on the neck to slaughter them. You can slaughter them anywhere you want. The reason why we do not eat giraffes is mainly that they are extremely expensive.
Not to mention rather large. I don't imagine it would be easy to cook a giraffe on a spit or in an oven, either all at once or piece by piece.
2. Star-K gives an equally practical and no-nonsense answer to another question:
Q. Are genetically engineered tomatoes kosher?
A. If it looks like a tomato, smells like a tomato, feels like a tomato and tastes like a tomato, it's a tomato and it's kosher.
I suppose a tomacco would not qualify, even if it were edible, which has not yet been tested.Posted by Dr. Weevil at January 09, 2004 08:07 PM