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Letters: Alligator Farm, Human-Sized Hamster Wheel

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Robert Siegel reads emails form listeners about an alligator farm and a man who tried to cross the Irish Sea in a human-sized hamster wheel.


Now to your letters, first about a story we aired Monday set on an alligator farm in Georgia. It's one of the largest in the country. The alligators, about 100,000 of them, are raised for their hides and their meat. And they spend their entire lives indoors in semidarkness to keep them from fighting. Mark Glass, who runs the farm, told us fighting is bad for business.

MARK GLASS: The industry that we're selling the alligator hides into - the Louis Vuittons, the Hermes, the Gucci, Prada, Channels - they want perfect premium skins, no scars, no blemishes, no scratches.

SIEGEL: Well, several of you wrote in to tell us that you were offended by what you heard. Kim Curtis(ph), of Germantown, Maryland, writes this: Your story never questions the fact that every natural habit or instinct of these animals is curbed for the sake of premium fashion.

And Lori Gershick(ph), of Mesa, Arizona, says: Living your life in a dark barn in filthy ponds, and then slaughtered for someone rich enough to afford alligator watch bands or purses, is cruel. Shame on you, NPR, for promoting such practices, and reporting them as if the lives of other living creatures are meaningless.

On a lighter note.


SPIKE MILLIGAN: (Singing) I'm walking backwards for Christmas, across the Irish Sea...

SIEGEL: Yesterday, we brought you the story of Chris Todd. This past weekend, the English engineer failed in his attempt to cross the Irish Sea in a giant hamster wheel. Well, a couple of you wrote in not about the story but about the song, sung here by British comedian Spike Milligan, that we played at the end of the story.


MILLIGAN: (Singing) I'm walking backwards for Christmas...

SIEGEL: You made my day, writes Graham Thomas(ph) of State College, Pennsylvania.

And the song struck a personal chord with Sara Bernstein(ph) of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. She writes this: My mother was fond of singing this song with very little provocation. But I have no idea if I've ever heard a professional rendition. At the very least, I know I have not heard it sung by anyone since my mother died. Thank you so much for bringing it back into my life today.

Well, thank you for letting us know and please keep the letters coming. Just go to and click on Contact Us.


MILLIGAN: (Singing) And sadly he dreamed or at least that's the way it seemed, buddy, that an angel choir for him, that angel choir did sing.

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