The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, called for both Texas and Georgia to retire their live mascots on Wednesday following an incident on the field ahead of the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday.
The viral incident occurred before No. 14 Texas’ 28-21 win against No. 5 Georgia at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans when Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga, went to “meet” Texas’ longhorn mascot, Bevo, for a photoshoot.
Bevo, though, got angry and briefly charged. He broke through the metal barricades on the field, sending people — and Uga — scrambling before he was calmed down and led back into his pen.
Nobody, thankfully, was seriously hurt.
PETA, though, called out both universities on Wednesday — urging them to retire their live mascots in letters sent to the schools.
“It’s indefensible to subject animals to the stress of being packed up, carted from state to state and paraded in front of a stadium full of screaming fans,” PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange said in a statement, via CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee. “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.”
There are several live mascots across the college sports world, and the practice is a longstanding tradition at many schools, too. Some are more exotic, larger or dangerous animals, like Bevo or LSU’s live tiger, Mike. Others are simply household pets, like Georgia’s bulldog or Washington’s husky, Dubs.
While mascots like Uga or Dubs don’t often draw much criticism, others have. Earlier this season, a petition garnered nearly 70,000 signatures urging LSU to stop using Mike as its mascot.
PETA, though, wants the practice shut down entirely, and even urged people to contact schools themselves to ask for them to quit using animal mascots.
“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,” PETA said in a blog post on its website. “But that doesn’t change the fact that Uga or any of the humans standing nearby could easily have been trampled and killed.
“[Animal mascots are] frequently carted around to sporting events and public appearances, which are confusing and frightening for them … 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.”
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