Times are changing for animals, and nothing makes that more clear than the nixing of an old New Year's Eve tradition in one small North Carolina town.
For the past 21 years, it has been a New Year's Eve tradition in Brasstown, North Carolina that a live opossum is dropped off a building to simulate the ball drop in New York City's Times Square. The event is not quite as gruesome as it sounds; the opossum is first trapped than encased in a plexiglass box and lowered 40 feet where it is released later in the night. However, the surrounding sights and sounds, including fireworks, live music and bright lights leave the opossum, a nocturnal animal, absolutely terrified. Some opossums simply 'play dead' (scientifically known as capture myopathy) after the affair, as that is their natural response to times of great stress, but numerous veterinarians have stated that if the stress is too great, they will actually die during the process.
Leading up to the New Year's Eve event, animal advocates including PETA lead the charge against the tradition. Thanks to online petitions and social media, they helped end the process once and hopefully for all. There was no opossum present at this year's New Year's Eve celebration in Brasstown, but there is still no law against preventing the use of opossum or any wild animal in public celebrations, although they did break the state law that states that parties must have a permit to use wild animals. Organizer of the event and owner of the shop it is dropped from, Clay Logan, seeks to renew the tradition in 2015 by obtaining the proper permit from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, but locals and animal advocates are already letting the ink dry on petitions to the commission to not allow him one.