Following last month’s scenes in Texas, when a South Padre Island conference centre opened its doors to assist in the rescue of thousands of sea turtles Edinburgh is dealing with an uncannily similar ecological emergency, along with a heart-warming response.
Thousands of haggis suffering from serious shock, stunned by the yesterday’s cold snap, were brought into the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) for emergency care by teams of volunteers overnight.
“These are harrowing scenes” says Aaron, one of dozens of volunteers operating in the conference venue, “usually at this time of year we expect to see these wee creatures cavorting around Arthur’s seat, or the Pentlands. I’ve never seen so many in such distress.”
Haggis is a species endemic to Scotland and beloved the world over. The typically wet and windy Scottish spring is the ideal time for their mating season as the wind helps to cool their oddly shaped bodies, while the rain keeps them hydrated. This spring, however, has seen several days completely rain free and temperatures reaching 10 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.
Euan McSwean from the British Haggis Preservation Society (BHPS): “We have never seen devastation on this scale. This year saw record numbers of haggis hunted ahead of Burns night. We worry that without a successful mating season the timorous beastie might be pushed towards endangerment. Although stocks in the central belt of Scotland remain high, unpredictable weather such as that we have seen over the past few months could prove a real challenge for the Haggis population going forward.”
The EICC, currently the site of an NHS mass vaccination facility, was quick to respond by opening its doors to volunteers and conservationists.
TheStrathblane Hall, usually home to registration desks, poster boards, five-star cuisine, and networking delegates, gave itself over to hundreds of plastic trays. Once brought on-site, the poorly wee haggis are assigned a tray and carefully treated depending on their condition in a process called Haggis Triage.
Aaron added: “Usually they are a bit dehydrated, so we bring them here to be given water and food. After they have perked up, usually a few hours to a day, they are taken back off site and carefully released.”
It is unclear just when the current hardships facing the Haggis will end, but a forecast of rain and wind in the coming weeks will provide some relief to conservationists and Haggis enthusiasts alike. Whatever the weather, “the EICC stands ready to help in any way we can”, said the EICC’s CEO, Marshall Dallas.