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Brasstown, North Carolina, rings in the new year with its annual "Possum Drop" -- much to the dismay of animal rights activists who sued to stop the marsupial spectacle. But thanks to a local judge, the show will go on.
The tradition involves a New Year's Eve ball drop -- oh, except the ball is actually a live opossum in a box. Not surprisingly, PETA protested the event for years, culminating in a full-blown Possum Drop lawsuit.
On Monday, a court ruled in favor of the living ball drop. But why?
Wake County Superior Judge Allen Baddour heard arguments from attorneys for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and state wildlife regulators who issued Clay Logan, the Possum Drop's organizer, a captivity permit for an opossum late last week, reports the News & Observer.
PETA argued that the practice constitutes animal cruelty. They argued dangling a live opossum above a stage amid fireworks and raucous crowds is cruel and causes stress that is likely to kill the naturally shy and timid animal days or weeks after the event.
Baddour issued a decision allowing Logan to capture and keep a an opossum for the event, as the use does not violate the state's animal cruelty laws. The decision isn't terribly surprising, considering North Carolina has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation.
Though the permit allows Logan to lower the opossum in a box to ring in the new year, he must comply with a number of conditions.
The captivity permit issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission requires that the opossum be kept in a box 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. It must be properly ventilated and cleaned regularly, reports the Observer.
Also, the animal must be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian and its diet must be akin to that of a wild opossum. Logan said he would feed it apples, oranges, cat food and water; after the Possum Drop, the opossum is set free.
This year's not-so-lucky opossum winner should hope to be reborn a turkey who gets a presidential pardon. And its New Year's resolution may be to stay far, far away from Brasstown.
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