German magazine Der Spiegel's English-language Web site has an interesting story today about how the McDonald's fast-food chain changed the design of its McFlurry dessert container in order to make it hedgehog-friendly. And I couldn't resist doing a blog item on the topic today, since I'd never seen a hedgehog before. Check the link for a neat photo of one of the little guys. The story is a bit puzzling. The premise is that McDonald's redesigned the convex plastic lids to make them safe for hedgehogs. The story notes that a group called Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), touted as the nation's largest environmental group, has received reports of between 50 and 100 hedgehogs getting trapped in McFlurry packaging during the last two years alone.
"There hasn't been a scientific study on the matter, but anyone who has driven down the autobahn and seen all the litter can understand why these discarded McFlurry cups would be a hazard for Hedgehogs," Rolf Bahrens, who works for BUND in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "People have called us, reporting many cases where they found a hedgehog that had crawled into one of these cups and died of starvation."In the end, though, McDonald's solved the problem by introducing a new hedgehog-friendly package to its outlets in Germany -- one it had already developed in the United Kingdom, where it ran into exactly the same problem back in 2006! McDonald's said the new small-mouthed lids should be available throughout Germany soon. Wouldn't it have made sense to roll out this new package design everywhere hedgehogs are found, rather than waiting for someone to complain?