Berlin, and the world, was pleasantly enlivened by social media images of a nude sunbather chasing after a wild boar who had stolen his laptop bag.
Yet the laughing mood was dampened when Berlin’s forestry service announced last week that the boar and its two youngsters could be part of an annual cull in order to keep the species’ numbers down and protect people from diseases they might carry.
Berliners have now protested – and on Sunday organised a “demo against the shooting of the wild boar family from the Teufelssee”.
An online petition was also set up under the title “Save the cheeky but peaceful sow from the Teufelssee,” and collected almost 10,000 signatures at the time of writing.
About a dozen people showed up to Sunday’s protest in front of Berlin’s Forestry Office in Grunewald.
They kept their distance, wore masks, and held up signs that read “Have a heart for this wild boar family”.
“The animals did not harm anyone and the laptop also came back to its owner,” wrote protest organisers. “There is no reason to kill the animals.”
The boar family is apparently known to bathers, and even made an appearance at the lake in Berlin's Grunewald in the week following its social media fame.
Adele Landauer, the Berlin-based life coach who originally took the pictures and shared with the man’s permission, spotted the boar family again on August 9th, and wrote that the creatures did not do any harm to those around them.
“No one really cared much because they all felt comfortable with each other,” she wrote.
Wild boar babies playing around in Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA
However, Berlin state forestry office spokesman Marc Franusch told AFP the boar and her babies could be culled when the hunting season begins in October.
They would not be shot immediately because it is the wrong time of year, Franusch said – but the agency will be keeping an eye on them.
“If there are special dangers for humans or animals in places such as the bathing area at Teufelssee (lake), appropriate measures must be taken to avert these dangers,” he said.
Wild boars are regularly culled by licensed hunters in Berlin and the rest of Germany to keep numbers down and to fend off diseases such as African swine fever.
Every year, 1,000 to 2,000 wild boars are shot in Berlin.
The population in Berlin alone is estimated to hover around 3,000, with sightings are becoming more common.
They often venture into residential areas looking for food, as appeared to be the case during the incident last week, and have been known to attack humans.
“Many of us were scared but the wild boars seemed to be peaceful,” Landauer, the Berlin-based life coach, wrote as she shared photos of the animals on Instagram two weeks ago.
“After they ate a pizza from a backpack of a man who was taking a swim in the lake they were looking for a dessert. They found this yellow bag and decided to take it away.”
Franusch urged people visiting the lake to avoid leaving food or rubbish behind, as this would only encourage the creatures.
With reporting from AFP.