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Elegant British rodents prefer food to freedom

The mink, raw material for opulent fur coats, looks cute but has a reputation for being a fierce little fellow capable of dispatching good-sized cats and dogs , not to mention chickens and ducks.

So when members of Britain's self-styled Animal Liberation Front entered a mink farm and gave 200 of the rodents their freedom, there was alarm in the County of Essex.

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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was up in arms warning that lifting the latch on mink created dangers for other adorable creatures.

Parents living in the vicinity of the mink farm were warned to keep their children safe lest a rampant rodent prove itself no respecter of tiny persons.

But no one need have worried. The alarmists, as well as the Animal Liberation Front, had not reckoned with the views of the minks.

Instead of fanning out across Britain, breeding and rampaging by turns, the inmates of the New World Mink Ranch, Canewdon, near Southend, turned out to be pampered darlings without initiative.

Within 24 hours of their release the fierce denizens of the fur farm came creeping back home - hungry. Mink, it seems, prefer regular meals to freedom.

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