PETA renewed its call for UGA and Texas to stop using live-animal mascots after a confrontation before the Sugar Bowl.
“Bevo” is the University of Texas mascot that is an 1,800-pound longhorn steer, while “Uga” is Georgia’s famous mascot that is a much smaller English bulldog.
Before the kickoff of Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl while photographers were snapping pictures of both mascots in a close vicinity, Bevo suddenly charged at Uga. The confrontation was captured in several videos that went viral. Fortunately, neither animal nor any nearby persons were injured — other than some scratches on a photographer’s back, via Bevo.
PETA, which stands for People Ethical Treatment of Animals, issued a statement on its website. Here’s part of it:
“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.”
The Uga mascot line started in 1956, and the canine attends all UGA home games, many away games, and other school-related events.