After a close call between two live animal mascots at Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is renewing its call for the retirement of all live animal mascots.
Before the game between the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Georgia, both teams brought their mascots onto the field for a photo op: Bevo XV, a 1,600-lb. steer represented the Texas Longhorns, and Uga X, the 62-lb. English bulldog represented the Georgia Bulldogs. The animals were separated on the field by metal barriers, but the boundaries weren’t enough to hold back Bevo XV, who charged through the barriers at Uga X. Thankfully, no mascots or humans were injured during the frightening incident.
However, PETA says the situation could’ve easily ended with Uga X and/or the humans standing near the dog getting trampled or killed.
“It’s no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging, and PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident, retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team,” PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement.
As the roman numerals in their names suggest, Bevo XV and Uga X are preceded by a long line of live mascots for their respective schools, but this history is not reason enough for PETA to accept the practice of using live animals as mascots. To reinforce the point, the animal rights organization sent a letter to each school’s president.
“As a UGA alumna, I’m proud of my alma mater for many reasons, but this is not one of them,” PETA’s Emily R. Trunnell, Ph.D., wrote to University of Georgia president Jere W. Morehead. “Dogs deserve better than to be shuffled from game to game as if they were sporting equipment. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and frightening noises is stressful — even terrifying — for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home with their loving guardians.”
PETA’s letter to University of Texas at Austin president Gregory L. Fenves echoed the same sentiment, adding that Bevo XV “deserves to spend his days grazing with his herdmates.”
The group says that many schools have retired their live animal mascots over the past decades, but some have still hung on to the practice including Baylor University, North Alabama University, Louisiana State University and more.
On its website, PETA is urging animal lovers who feel the same way about live animal mascots to “send a polite e-mail to its fundraising or community-outreach committee urging it to use willing human participants instead.”