PETA renews call for universities to end use of live animal mascots following Sugar Bowl incident

By Christopher Brito

/ CBS News

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is renewing its call for universities to stop using live animals as mascots after the Texas football program's large longhorn steer, Bevo, nearly trampled Georgia's signature bulldog, Uga, and members of the media before the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

PETA urged the Universities of Texas and Georgia to put their live animal mascots out to pasture, saying it's "indefensible to subject animals to the stress" of screaming fans in a packed stadium.

"It's no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging," PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange said Thursday in a statement. "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."

Uga, an English bulldog wearing a bright red Georgia sweater, was quickly pulled out of harm's way, but Bevo's head and horns appeared to make contact with several people, including a couple of photographers, who scampered out of the way or were knocked down. Bevo was quickly restrained and there were no reported injuries.

The incident, about an hour before kickoff, was caught on video and quickly became a sensation on social media.

MASCOT SHOWDOWN: The Texas Longhorns' mascot Bevo the steer charged Georgia's mascot Uga the bulldog before the 2019 Sugar Bowl Tuesday in a shocking moment captured on video. https://t.co/xzvRC2otxO pic.twitter.com/vDIoBykMws

— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 3, 2019

While it appeared to many that Bevo was advancing aggressively toward Uga, the steer's chief handler disputed that version of events. Silver Spur alumni association executive director Ricky Brennes, who is in charge of handling the 1,700-pound steer, said Bevo was simply agitated because he wanted to walk and was being restrained.

Neel Parekh, a PETA official and University of Texas alumnus, voiced his concerns about Bevo's well-being in an open letter to the school's president.

"Bevo deserves to spend his days grazing with his herdmates, not being shuffled from game to game like a piece of sporting equipment. 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," he wrote,

Similarly, Emily R. Trunnell, a PETA official and University of Georgia alum, wrote to her school about Uga.

"Dogs deserve better than to be shuffled from game to game as if they were sporting equipment," she said in a letter.

CBS News reached out to both universities to see if they would comment on the letters, but they did not immediately respond.

For years, PETA has been calling on universities to cease the use of live animals as mascots, citing professional teams that have abandoned the practice. Currently, Louisiana State University, Baylor University, University of North Alabama and University of Memphis are among the schools that still use live animals as mascots, according to PETA.

First published on January 3, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PETA calls for teams to retire live animal mascots

PETA called on Texas and Georgia to retire their live animal mascots, saying it's "indefensible to subject animals to the stress" of screaming fans in a packed stadium

updated 8M ago

This week on "Sunday Morning" (January 6)

A look at the features for this week's broadcast of the #1 Sunday morning news program

updated 30M ago

President Trump makes surprise appearance in briefing room

The last White House briefing occurred on Dec. 18, prior to the partial government shutdown that has stretched on for 13 days

updated 4M ago

White House says it's up to Pelosi to end shutdown

The partial government shutdown reached its 13th day on Thursday, when the new congressional class was seated

updated 14M ago

New Congress seated: Democratic members sworn in, Pelosi elected speaker — live updates

Democrats are taking the majority in the House of Representatives after eight years out of power

updated 7M ago

President Trump makes surprise appearance in briefing room

The last White House briefing occurred on Dec. 18, prior to the partial government shutdown that has stretched on for 13 days

updated 4M ago

White House says it's up to Pelosi to end shutdown

The partial government shutdown reached its 13th day on Thursday, when the new congressional class was seated

updated 14M ago

New Congress seated: Democratic members sworn in, Pelosi elected speaker — live updates

Democrats are taking the majority in the House of Representatives after eight years out of power

updated 7M ago

Trump defends Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but avoids facts

During a lengthy cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump endorsed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

1H ago

Mitt Romney says he will strive to build a "trusting relationship" with Trump, despite differences

Earlier in the week, the incoming senator from Utah penned a scathing editorial and questioned the president's character

4H ago

U.S. urges "increased caution in China" in travel advisory

The advisory says authorities in China "have asserted broad authority" to prevent Americans from leaving the country by using "exit bans"

updated 7M ago

Indian state paralyzed amid protests over women's entry into temple

Hindu hard-liners shut shops and businesses and clashed with police

4H ago

Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon

The unmanned spacecraft, the Chang'e 4, touched down at 10:26 a.m., China Central Television said in a brief announcement

5H ago

Rescued baby boy recovering after Russia collapse kills 39 others

Hundreds of rescuers complete sweep of concrete rubble of building that partially collapsed in the city of Magnitogorsk

6H ago

Sailor's yacht found 8 years after her ill-fated round-the-world bid

Abby Sunderland, who tried to circle the globe alone at just 16, says her "heart skipped a beat" at news her boat was found

7H ago

Daryl Dragon, "Captain" of The Captain and Tennille, dies at 76

"Love Will Keep Us Together," the title track from his debut album with his then-wife, Toni Tennille, reached the top of the Billboard chart in July 1975

3H ago

"Bird Box" Challenge: Blindfolded copycats post risky stunts inspired by film

Netflix is warning fans about the risks of a new social media challenge inspired by its film, "Bird Box"

4H ago

Coachella 2019 headliners include Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino

Just-announced lineup also includes Tame Impala, Janelle Monae, DJ Snake, Diplo, Solange and Weezer

12H ago

How to watch the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

Hollywood's 2019 awards season kicks off Sunday night with the 76th annual Golden Globes

1H ago

Bob Einstein, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" actor, dead at 76

Einstein was also known for his stuntman character, Super Dave Osborne

Jan 2

Apple's "darkest day" raises doubts about iPhone's future

Waning demand for the tech giant's flagship product has some analysts asking where the company goes from here

1H ago

First meteor shower of 2019 peaks Thursday

It's the first meteor shower of 2019 – and it's not the only astronomical phenomenon taking place this month

4H ago

Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon

The unmanned spacecraft, the Chang'e 4, touched down at 10:26 a.m., China Central Television said in a brief announcement

5H ago

Does artificial intelligence put our power grid at risk?

"There's more risk than we have ever had before," says cybersecurity expert Rob Lee

7H ago

Earthquake warning app, first of its kind, being offered in L.A.

ShakeAlertLA works on Android and iPhones in Los Angeles County and is designed to give residents precious seconds to take precautions

12H ago

Do sugar-free sweeteners really help you lose weight?

Researchers reviewed more than 50 studies and found little evidence of any health benefits

2H ago

"Sicker, Fatter, Poorer": The cost of hormone-disrupting chemicals

"We found that these exposures cost the United States $340 billion a year. That's 2.3 percent of our gross domestic product," says Dr. Leonardo Trasande

1H ago

Sunflower butter recalled after customer finds listeria

Oskri Organics said it was informed by a customer that they "randomly" sent its product in for testing

5H ago

The best overall diets for 2019

If getting healthy is one of your New Year's resolutions, check out this ranking of the top overall diets for 2019

22H ago

Big Pharma raises prices of more than 1,000 drugs

Consumers may have to pay more for a range of medications in 2019 as drugmakers boost their costs

22H ago

Burger King accused of reneging on lifetime meals to man stuck in bathroom

An Oregon man is suing, claiming he was promised endless burgers after enduring a foul-smelling experience

1H ago

Apple not the only one hurting from U.S. trade war with China

Analysts say both countries are suffering, pointing to signs of a manufacturing slowdown in the U.S.

1H ago

Apple's "darkest day" raises doubts about iPhone's future

Waning demand for the tech giant's flagship product has some analysts asking where the company goes from here

1H ago

Stocks tumble after Apple's warning leave investors jittery

Apple pointed to China's economic slowdown as a cause of its shortfall, adding to fears about a global economic hit

updated 53M ago

Tesla's price cuts could signal waning demand

The electric-car maker said it moved to help offset a shrinking tax credit, but analysts see an inventory problem

8H ago

Boy charged with murder after egg prank leads to woman's death

Harris County Sheriff's Office says SUV was filled with teens who were throwing eggs at other cars when another driver began chasing them

8H ago

LAPD arrest man who allegedly stole millions from celebrities

Police are calling it one of the most brazen and sophisticated string of burglaries they've ever seen

8H ago

Driver of bus that flipped over, injuring 22, charged with DUI

Greyhound bus overturned on entrance ramp to interstate in Mississippi

10H ago

Many departments report decline in murders in 2018 — but not these cities

Many of the country's most populous cities saw murders decline from 2017 to 2018, with a few key exceptions

5H ago

McDonald's customer-worker fight over straw caught on video

New Year's Eve encounter lands customer under arrest

1H ago  Original Article