People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to end the use of live mascots after an incident before their Sugar Bowl matchup on Tuesday.
Bevo, the Texas Longhorns’ steer mascot, charged Uga, the Georgia Bulldogs’ dog mascot, before the game, creating a brief moment of chaos for the people around the animals. The pre-game kerfuffle caught the attention of the animal rights organization.
“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 Wednesday. “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”
In letters sent to both schools, PETA officials expressed their disappointment that live animals would still be dragged to sporting events.
“Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and frightening noises is stressful—even terrifying—for sensitive, intelligent animals like longhorns, and this stress could cause Bevo to react in ways that might result in injury to himself or others, as we saw this week,” Neel Parekh, a PETA official and University of Texas alumnus wrote to the school.
“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,” Emily R. Trunnell, a PETA official and University of Georgia alumnus wrote to the school.
Neither universities have responded to PETA’s request.
Oklahoma University, the University of Colorado and the University of Tennessee are among the schools who still use live mascots.