July 25, 2024

When a Dutch Airline Fed 440 Squirrels Into a Massive Shredder

Image: KLM

It seems to have been quite common for Europeans to acquire imported squirrels from China and North America as pets in the distant past of April 1999. The squirrel business was booming. A significant number of squirrels transported by KLM Royal Dutch airlines from China was intercepted at Schiphol airport while en route to an alleged squirrel enthusiast in Athens, Greece. The squirrels reportedly lacked proper documentation upon arrival and did not have a return address in China, leading to the airline’s inability to find a new home for them. The furry creatures, along with numerous other turtles and birds, were humanely disposed of by being hand-fed into a large shredder.

Reports indicate that KLM placed all these animals into an industrial meat processing machine, citing compliance with health laws and regulations regarding the disposal of improperly imported live animals. A spokesperson for the airline claimed at the time that despite the seemingly harsh method of disposal, it was the most humane way to adhere to legal requirements. The public’s backlash against the animal shredding was so significant that the Dutch parliament had to convene an emergency session to revise the laws.

Allegedly, the regulation was crafted under the assumption that imported animals would arrive in small quantities, with no consideration given to the possibility of needing to shred hundreds of live animals simultaneously. In a recent interview discussing the concept of “accountability sinks,” Dan Davies told Bloomberg the story of the squirrels, summarizing it as follows:

…When you build a system, you are always building a model of the world, and if something happens which doesn’t fit into your model in the world, your system might do something awful.

Perhaps, before resorting to shredding a multitude of squirrels, it would be wise to pause and reconsider the broader implications.


Q: How many squirrels were put into the shredder by KLM?

A: KLM reportedly disposed of 440 squirrels in the shredder.

Q: Did the Dutch parliament take any action in response to the incident?

A: Yes, the Dutch parliament held an emergency meeting to amend laws following public outrage over the animal shredding.


The unfortunate incident involving the disposal of 440 squirrels in a shredder by KLM serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of inadequate regulations and oversight. It highlights the importance of considering the ethical implications of our actions and ensuring that humane practices are upheld, even in challenging circumstances.

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