Taffy's travel plans lose executive status
BRITISH civil servants have pulled the red carpet out from under Taffy the goat's hooves - instead of flying back to the UK in VIP style, he has been locked up and labelled a ''common farmyard animal''.
The Royal Regiment of Wales' mascot was due to be given top treatment courtesy of Cathay Pacific as he departed from Kai Tak with the remaining members of the regiment's 1st Battalion, who have just finished their two-year tour of duty at Stanley Fort.
Airline officials had planned to give Taffy a taste of executive class travel, but Whitehall's Ministry of Agriculture said the 11-year-old billy goat had to obey the UK's strict quarantine rules for farmyard animals.
So instead of being pampered with the jet-set, Taffy has been locked up in solitary confinement until February.
The army hoped that the veteran of more than 800 public engagements in the territory would be classed as a special case, but the men from the ministry would have none of it.
''It is sad, but unavoidable,'' said an army spokesman. ''We were told that because Taffy is a farmyard animal he has to have a month's quarantine here and then another month in the UK before he can rejoin the regiment.'' A Ministry of Agriculture spokesman said: ''We would like to make an exception but can't. Goats can carry diseases such as foot and mouth and we have to protect British livestock. That is more important than when and how the goat comes back.'' Officials from Hongkong's Agriculture and Fisheries Department will also be monitoring Taffy while he serves his quarantine.
The special in-flight treatment is now also out as the regulations say Taffy must be treated like other animals and transported in a special animal crate for the journey to London.
Until then he will remain in isolation and without the rest of the regiment, who all leave Hongkong in the next few days. He is being looked after by the Royal Regiment of Wales' replacements, the Black Watch.
''I suppose it could be worse for him,'' said one Black Watch soldier. ''We could have handed him over to the Gurkhas who are partial to some goat meat now and again!''