Animals were executed for other reasons as well—reasons that hint more explicitly at the strict religious attitudes of the time. In 1474 in Switzerland, Evans writes, a rooster was put to death “for the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg.” When hatched by a snake or toad, rooster’s eggs were thought to birth cockatrices or basilisks—mythical reptilian beasts capable of killing a man with a single look. Today, we might suggest that the cock was killed for the fluidity of his gender, which would put him in the same category as Jacques Ferron’s donkey or the unchaste sparrow: animals that committed “crimes” of sexuality.
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