Livening up a Christmas nativity scene with live animals had unforeseen
consequences for a group of Italian monks when an animal liberation group
stole two of their most prized charges -- a pair of much-loved rabbits named
Cip and Ciop.
Elaborate nativity scenes are a staple of the
festive season in Italy, but the Franciscan monks in Grosseto, in Tuscany,
decided to go one better by placing guinea pigs, hamsters, chickens and
rabbits among the more traditional plaster cast statues of Mary, Joseph, the
baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men, in the church adjoining their convent.
While the live animals, which were kept in wire cages, were appreciated
by local children, they provoked outrage among the members of Animal