Animal Emotions

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Green Mountain Oxen: Bill Lives, Lou Dies

Lou, one of two oxen condemned to death at a Vermont college, is killed.

Bill and Lou, two oxen who worked selflessly for Green Mountain College (GMC) and who were condemned to death because they could no longer work, have attracted worldwide attention because of their unique story. I've written about Bill and Lou previously and it's easy to see why Bill and Lou should have been sent to a sanctuary that offered them free care, and not be killed and turned into 1,000 pounds of oxenburger for students at GMC to consume. An interview I recently did about this horrific situation can be found here at time marker 4:08 and the interview begins around time marker 4:50.

Lou is dead. It's been announced that Lou has indeed been euthanized "after a recurring injury to his hind leg continued to deteriorate." Now, many people are worried about the fate of his friend Bill because GMC has repeatedly said they will kill them both, because Bill could not possibly live without his very best friend, Lou. Bill surely would be miserable so he too should be killed according to GMC and served up as oxenburgers.

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After Lou was killed, "The college said Lou's work partner, Bill, would not (my emphasis) be sent to a sanctuary and instead would stay at the school farm and receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practices."

This is an ominous statement at best and I hope I'm wrong, but there seems little doubt that Bill will also be killed. However, this will not be euthanasia, but rather wanton slaughter, because Bill could easily be given a good life in the absence of his friend. We don't kill dogs when their best friends die and neither should Bill be killed.

We must do all we can do to save, rather than to slaughter, sentient beings—in this case, Bill. Please write to Bill Throop, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, at throopw@greenmtn.edu and copy your letter to Kenneth Mulder, Farm Manager, Research Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at mulderk@greenmtn.edu.

You can also read more about Bill and Lou and post comments here (from which the teaser image also has been taken). 

Note: This was just posted as a comment by Patrice Jones:

"We know that Lou was alive and well at 2 or 3 in the afternoon of what would be his last day. Given that data, the late-night timing of the so-called "euthanasia," and the absence of his body on campus, I have grave concerns about the manner of his death. While VINE's official statement will be forthcoming, I urge people to join me in demanding that the college produce a statement from a veterinarian, attesting that he or she recommended and implemented euthanasia for humane reasons and by humane methods. Otherwise, the college must explain to the students and neighbors of the college who loved Lou exactly why and how he died."

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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