As I was watching the scene unfold New Year’s Day evening, I turned to my wife and said, “you watch PETA shove itself into this at some point.” Sadly, that thought process proved accurate.
Prior to Tuesday’s Georgia-Texas Sugar Bowl matchup, there was an attempt by both schools to get their famed live-animal mascots, Uga the bulldog and Bevo the longhorn steer, together for a pregame photo opp. Suffice to say, Bevo wasn’t having any of it.
In the aftermath of that dustup, PETA, as it has in the past when it comes to LSU’s Mike the Tiger among others, issued a statement in which it called for both Georgia and Texas to end their use of live-animal mascots.
Below is the organization’s statement, for better or worse, in its entirety:
After the Georgia Bulldogs’ mascot, Uga X, was nearly trampled by the Texas Longhorns’ steer, Bevo XV, in Tuesday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl, PETA is renewing its call for both schools to end their use of live-animal mascots. The frightening encounter, in which Bevo broke free of the metal barricades he was caged within and ran in Uga’s direction, aired live just before the game.
Bevo’s handlers were quick to say that the steer is “as docile as a lamb” and that “[h]e was just going to say hi,” and that may be true. Steers, like all animals, are individuals with unique personalities. It’s quite possible that 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.
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.
Live animals used as mascots, such as Baylor University’s bears and the University of North Alabama’s lions, are held in captivity and often denied the opportunity to fulfill many of their most basic instincts. They’re frequently carted around to sporting events and public appearances, which are confusing and frightening for them. Human mascots can engage with sports fans, pose for pictures, lead cheers, and pump up their teams and fans much better than a terrified animal can. They’re also much less expensive for schools, and some universities offer scholarships for student mascots.
If your favorite team is still forcing live animals to serve as mascots, please send a polite e-mail to its fundraising or community-outreach committee urging it to use willing human participants instead.