New Year, New Mascot? PETA Seeks Uga’s Retirement

Call for End to University's Live-Mascot Program Comes After Dangerous Incident at Sugar Bowl

For Immediate Release:
January 3, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Athens, Ga. – After Bevo XV, a steer used as a mascot by the University of Texas at Austin, charged Uga X, a dog used as a mascot by the University of Georgia, at the Sugar Bowl, PETA has sent letters urging both schools to end their use of live-animal mascots.

“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,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “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.”

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead follows.

January 2, 2019

Jere W. Morehead, President

University of Georgia

Dear President Morehead,

In light of the close call at yesterday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl—in which Bevo the longhorn steer apparently broke out of his enclosure and charged at Uga, nearly trampling him—I urge you to retire Uga and pledge not to use live-animal mascots in the future.

As a UGA alumna, I’m proud of my alma mater for many reasons, but this is not one of them.

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.

Bulldogs like Uga are also predisposed to many congenital ailments because of inbreeding and being bred for distorted physical features. Many of these dogs struggle with severe breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and, as shown in the Uga lineage, heart disorders. Poor ventilation and hot or humid weather can be deadly for bulldogs, and traveling—as Uga is forced to do frequently—is especially taxing on these dogs.

The public doesn’t want to see animals used as props or forced to perform—as evidenced by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ closure and SeaWorld’s decision to end its orca-breeding program. Many schools have retired their animal mascots.

Most universities and professional sports teams use costumed human mascots instead of real animals. Not only is this humane, it also means that the mascots can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team—all things that a frightened animal can’t do. Please, in light of Tuesday’s near-miss, won’t you join them and bring UGA into the future by retiring Uga and pledging not to use real animals as mascots?

Sincerely,

Emily R. Trunnell, Ph.D.

UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Class of 2010

UGA Biomedical & Health Sciences Institute, Neuroscience, Class of 2016

Research Associate

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind