If you watch Nihon TV’s Zip! morning show, you probably recognize the dog in the picture above. It’s Zippei (ジッペイ), a cute and fluffy Samoyed dog that travels around Japan as the television show’s mascot.
Every day, Zippei visits a different area, interacting with locals and spreading awareness about the show. The clip below shows a typical Zippei segment:
As you can see, Zippei is extremely well-behaved and never seems to make any noise. This bizarrely unnatural lack of barking gave rise to internet rumors that the Zippei had undergone surgery to remove his vocal cords. Some netizens who claim to have attended Zippei events said they saw the dog trying to bark, but not making any actual bark sounds.
The Asahi Shimbun is now reporting that the internet rumors were true: Zippei had a vocal cordectomy. The procedure took place before Zippei appeared on TV. It was supposedly not a pre-condition for the dog’s participation on the program. NTV is not commenting on whether it approves or disapproves of such surgical procedures .
According to Wikipedia, some people in the United States and Europe consider it cruel. It has even been outlawed in some areas:
The procedure is outlawed as a form of mutilation in the United Kingdom and all countries that have signed the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. In the United States, devocalization is illegal by state law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and by city ordinance in Warwick, Rhode Island. Efforts to ban devocalization are underway in other states.
If the 2channel comments picked up by Itai News are any indication, it seems that quite a few Japanese people also strongly disapprove of de-barking surgery and are disgusted by NTV [むごい話だ / 動物虐待じゃん / ひどいね / 日テレは動物をオモチャにするのが好きだな ] .