Threats to kill a boar who stole a nude bather’s laptop sparks protests

A wild boar that has become a frequent visitor at a lakeside bathing resort in Berlin is attracting a growing band of supporters following authorities’ suggestion that it could have to be killed.

The animal, nicknamed Elsa, has earned something akin to celebrity status after a series of photos of it and its piglets stealing a nude bather’s laptop at Teufelssee lake in west Berlin went viral this month.

The owner of the laptop was captured in bare-bottomed pursuit of the boar, which later abandoned its booty, presumably having discovered it was not edible.

Subsequent sightings of the creatures rifling through bathers’ picnic baskets and rucksacks and apparently showing no timidity have prompted Berlin foresters to label them a danger to humans.

“This wild sow and her two young is a frequent visitor at Teufelssee,” Katja Kammer, the head of the forestry office in the district of Grunewald told the broadcaster RBB. “They phlegmatically forage in broad daylight over the grass looking for food wherever there are bathers. They have lost all sense of shyness.”

As a result, she said, they would have to be “withdrawn as a matter of priority” – a bureaucratic euphemism for killing them.

Kammer’s remarks prompted the campaign group Action Fair Play to call a demonstration to save the beast. Around a dozen protesters gathered at the forestry office on Sunday.

“A few days ago pictures appeared in the media of a man in the nudist section of Teufelssee chasing a female wild boar which had run off with his laptop in a bag,” the organisers said in a statement. “These pictures delighted people around the world. Only the forestry office appeared to get no pleasure from them, deciding instead to shoot the sow and her young.”

The group said the animals had done no harm “and the owner even got his laptop back”. It said there was no need to kill the wild boar.

A petition on calling for the rescue of the “cheeky but peaceful sow from Teufelssee” had collected more than 5,300 signatures by Monday afternoon.

Its organisers said that in contrast to other wild boar, which can pose considerable danger to humans and dogs, this female had built a reputation “over years” of being friendly towards bathers.

“There has been absolutely no account taken for the fact that this sow has peacefully shared her living space with bathers for years,” they said, adding that the creature’s very friendliness was in danger of leading to its downfall. “This wild boar has earned the right to live,” they said.

Marc Franusch, a spokesman for Berlin’s forestry commission, said it remained uncertain whether and when the wild boar would be shot. “It is the wrong time of year,” he told local media. “Due to the age of young, it is forbidden to shoot them right now.”