For the Texas Longhorns, the fans cheer wildly during every game, not only for their football players but for the beloved mascot as well – Bevo the steer.
The hype music is blasted over the speakers and the fans go wild as a cloud of fake smoke billows out from Bevo as he runs onto the field. His handlers then parade him around while the cheers get louder and louder. This is the normal routine for the live animal mascot.
Bevo has performed this routine probably hundreds of times, but recently, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Bevo strayed from the choreographed trot with his handlers and decided to let instinct take over – and it could have been tragic.
During this particular game, there was a bulldog on the field – the opposing team’s live mascot. Bevo got the sudden urge to charge.
In a video posted by Danny Davis on Twitter (below), it shows the bulldog walking through a crowd of reporters, coaches, and event staff. People were snapping photos of the cute live mascot as he makes his way through the crowd.
All of the sudden, as seen in the video below, Bevo comes charging into the crowd. People began screaming and running away as fast as they could, the handlers trying their best to restrain the strong and powerful animal.
Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the chaotic ordeal but animal advocates are now up in arms.
Animal advocacy groups are now calling on the University of Texas to put an end to its live mascot program. They believe that it is dangerous for Bevo but also the fans as well. An online petition was recently started addressed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, so far, it has received over 70,000 signatures in its support.
From Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, the executive director, Renee King, has a very strong opinion about the use of live mascots. She’s certain that all of the constant traveling, loud noises, and stunts can take a serious toll on animals. In this case, due to Bevo’s stress, he could have accidentally killed someone.
King wants Bevo to have the life of a normal steer, with his herd, in a relaxed and stress-free environment.
“This is a 1,700-pound animal,” King told The Dodo. “They put him on a leash, but basically if that steer wants to go, a lead is not going to stop him. It’s very dangerous to put an animal of that size and magnitude out there and expect them to act like a dog. It’s just irrational.”
Helping steer like Bevo is in King’s blood. Rowdy Girl Sanctuary was once a cattle ranch, but now, she provides a home to lots of rescued animals – including a steer named Frosty. King knows that horns like Frosty and Bevo’s, with a span of nearly 5-feet, can pose a serious danger to humans if the animal gets spooked.
“He’s not mean at all, but he knows he can get his way with those huge horns,” King said. “He’ll push his friends out of the way to get food because he knows they’ll get out of the way… With Bevo having such big horns, this situation could have been really bad. They were handling him by holding onto his horns, actually gripping and pulling the end of his horns to restrain him. I could never imagine grabbing our longhorn [Frosty] and trying to restrain him. That is so wrong.”
People like King, along with groups such as PETA, want the use of live animals mascots to completely come to an end.
Not all universities, however, use live mascots due to welfare concerns and costs, but the ones that do still have them may want to reconsider. Texas State University has used a longhorn as their mascot since 1916 and Louisiana State University houses a live tiger near their sports stadium.
King is concerned that if they continue to use Bevo in games, he’s going to become more and more anxious which could result in harm or tragedy – for either a person or Bevo himself.
“I could tell Bevo was not happy at all to be there,” King said. “The mentality his handlers seem to have toward him is really horrible. He’s being treated as a commodity instead of a living being.”
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— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) January 2, 2019
Source: The Dodo