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A Swiss airline Airbus 330 was recently on a flight from Boston to Zurich and amongst the cargo was a container of two laboratory mice. The mice were it seems, from Mexico. Now I have no idea why the Swiss are importing Mexican mice for laboratory experiments, perhaps Swiss mice aren't up to the job or won't do certain things on moral grounds or perhaps Mexican mice will work for less than minimum wage.

Anyway one mouse decided that he didn't fancy the job and gnawed its way to freedom. (The other one presumably, felt obliged to stay and work its contract.)

Now apparently having a mouse wandering willy-nilly aboard a passenger airplane is not generally considered a 'good thing'. People worry about the little rodent gnawing its way through some vital cables and generally getting up to mischief. So the plane was grounded for thirty six hours, forcing the cancellation of two transatlantic flights, whilst airline staff dealt with the problem of the missing mouse.

The solution was applied with typical Swiss efficiency, they gassed the little blighter. Or to be specific they pumped carbon dioxide through the hold of the plane thereby asphyxiating the poor mouse. (I hope they gave it a decent burial afterwards.)

A spokesman for the airline was quoted as saying that using cheese or a cat to retrieve the mouse would have taken much more time. You can see their point. The cat would probably have found a nice little cubby hole and gone to sleep, they'd have sent in a dog that would have got lost, then a bigger dog ad infinitum.

But the Swiss have had previous experience in dealing with freedom loving mice; two years ago another flight from the Dominican Republic to Zurich was similarly grounded after a mouse was spotted on board. What it is with mice and Zurich aiport I don't know, but personally I have decided to steer clear of Switzerland in general and Zurich in particular in future.



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