Society Diary: This rat has done some truly lifesaving charity work

25 Sep 2020 Voices

Magawa - a true hero of our times

Welcome to autumn readers. The weather is gloomy, Christmas is cancelled and the news is, well, a lot right now. 

Fortunately, Diary is here to brighten your week with important animal updates. 

Finally, Danny K’s report is out – but has anyone outside of charity land seen it? 

It’s been a big week for one of the charity sector’s favourite backbench Tory MPs, Danny Kruger, as his big (and by big we mean long) report on how very important charities are was published. 

Sadly he missed out on the hoopla of a televised press launch, marching band and firework display, as everyone had been hoping for. Instead he had to settle for whacking the report up on his own website along with a a supportive (if non-committal) letter from the prime minister. 

Even more unfortunately for Danny K, if you were to Google his name this week, there’s very little about his Very Important Report, and instead a lot about how he had to apologise for forgetting to wear a facemask while travelling on a train to London. 

Now all credit to Danny K, he did hold his hands up fairly quickly and say “sorry” – a rare trait in a politician. Maybe he could write a 50-page report for Boris Johnson about the importance of an apology when you break the law and endanger yourself and those around you?   

Cuddly rat news 

Six months into a pandemic, we all need our weekly dose of heart-warming animal content.

(And a gallon of extra-strong coffee. And a week at the Bahamas. Although alas, reader, Diary is no travel agent and can only help with our usual rigorous and fearless reporting. Apologies – we’re all having to do a lot of expectation management these days.)

This week, rather than fluffy dogs or classy cats, we bring you the most extraordinary, most inspiring beastly content in charity land: a rat story. Yes, really.

Animal charity PDSA has awarded Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, with the PDSA Gold Medal – the animal equivalent of the George Cross – to recognise his “life-saving bravery and devotion to duty”.

Despite a seemingly ordinary appearance, Magawa has discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance in his career as a landmine detection rat in Cambodia. This life-saving work earned him the medal as well as the title of HeroRAT.

He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history to receive a PDSA Medal, joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

Jan McLoughlin, director general of PDSA, celebrated HeroRAT Magawa’s work and his “dedication, skill and bravery”, and said the charity is “thrilled” to award him the PDSA Gold Medal.

Yes, you can clap now.

*Civil Society journalists have all gone into hiding to rethink their career choices after learning that there are rats who have made a bigger contribution to society than themselves. Diary will for the foreseeable future be in charge of the website as they sort themselves out with the help of a couple of G&Ts*

Even cuddlier koala news 

Press officers across the land will tell you that a good email subject can be vital in catching a journalist’s attention, and when Diary was met with a cheery “g-day” by one such missive this week, our interest was instantly piqued. 

“This must be something from Australia!” Diary thought. (That’s how they talk over there.)

The content of the press release did not disappoint either. If you’re on the fence about whether rats are actually cute or not, then let’s try some koalas for size.

Yes, the Australian Koala Foundation teamed up with Facebook Messenger this morning to launch the world’s first Koala Messenger Room. Finally koalas will have will have the chance to share their thoughts with each other via one of the most popular messaging platforms. 

It’s strange that it has taken so long really – after all, koalas were instrumental in popularising MySpace all those years ago.

…OK, so the Koalas weren’t actually messaging each other, which is what we initially hoped. Instead, zookeepers from Symbio Wildlife Park in New South Wales introduced their cuddly koalas Imogen, Ellie, Johnny, Grace and Baby Kev.

Owing to regional time differences, the session already took place at midnight last night, but you can still head over and watch the recording, if you want to spend some koala-ty time with the little furry ones. Anyone can join, with no Facebook account or koala-fications required.

(Diary does recall being told by the Big Boss recently that puns aren’t really that funny, but these ones came with the press release and therefore have been faithfully reproduced. And anyway, what does he know.)

The Foundation’s press release promised that the koalas would be “eating their diet of eucalyptus leaves, sleeping, and of course cuddling”, and although Diary hasn’t yet watched the full recording, it sounds plausible. And even if you don’t feel you got everything that was promised, koala populations are declining so consider making a donation.

Eucalyptus (you can let us) know what you thought of the koalas via the usual address. 

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