The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says the confrontation between the University of Texas Bevo longhorn steer mascot and the University of Georgia's Uga bulldog mascot demonstrate why using live animals as college sports team mascots is cruel and should be abolished, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
In an incident before Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl, Bevo appeared to charge at Uga when both were being positioned for photo ops, leading Bevo's handlers to scramble to retrain the steer. A U.T. spokesman later said Bevo 'only wanted to say hi.' A photographer was scratched on the back by Bevo's horn but no serious injuries were reported.
PETA, in a statement, called the incident a 'near tragedy,' and said Uga or even one of the humans on the scene could have been seriously hurt or even killed.
"This frightening near-tragedy is yet another example of the reason most colleges and professional sports teams retired their live-animal mascots decades ago—and the handful who haven’t yet should quickly follow suit," PETA said.
Some Texas colleges are taking steps to rein in the use of live animal mascots. Baylor, while still keeping its famous bear in a shelter on campus, made the decision several seasons ago to no longer take the bear to sporting events.
PETA said the incident may have been caused by Bevo "was simply scared by the noise, lights, and chaos in the stadium and tried to flee from the confines of his makeshift pen. But that doesn’t change the fact that Uga or any of the humans standing nearby could easily have been trampled and killed."
PETA called on U.T. supporters and alumni to contact the university and urge that the tradition of using a live steer as a mascot come to an end, and that 'willing human participants,' perhaps dressed in steer costumes, be used instead.