Bull in a temple: cyber-campaign to save it from slaughter
May 15, 2007 - 10:43:32 AM

London, May 15 - The campaign to save Shambo, a bull in a Hindu temple in Wales that has tested positive for tuberculosis, has reached cyberspace - monks at the temple have set up a webcam called MooTube so that supporters can keep an eye on it.

The matter has reached the House of Commons with MP Andrew Dismore tabling a motion urging the government to use its discretion to spare the animal considered sacred in Hinduism. Thousands have signed an online petition supporting Shambo.

The motion tabled by Dismore, MP for Hendon, stated: 'That this house expresses concern at the decision of DEFRA inspectors, that Shambo the bull, -, must be slaughtered; recognised this to be a matter of utmost importance to the Hindu community, with some 90,000 pilgrims visiting Skanda Vale from around the country who regard such slaughter as an act of desecration; and urges the government to use its discretion under section 34 animal health act 1981 to reprieve Shambo.'

Hindu groups in Britain have threatened to form a human chain comprising thousands of Hindus from all over the country to prevent the animal's slaughter by May 21. A notice of the intended slaughter has been issued according to Welsh assembly rules.

An assembly government spokesman said: 'Wales, in common with many other countries, implements a control policy, based on testing and the slaughter of animals believed to be infected, in order to protect both human and animal health.

'We fully understand that this can be distressing for the owners, but these measures are in place to protect public health and animal health and prevent the further spread of the disease.'

Farmers in Wales say they have sympathy for the six-year-old animal - in the Skanda Vale Temple in Carmarthenshire but insist that it needs to be slaughtered to prevent the infection from spreading to other livestock.

The National Farmers' Union - Cymru said exceptions could not be made. Its president, Dai Davies, who is a dairy farmer in nearby Whitland, said the case was 'a difficult one'.

He said: 'There is always sympathy to anyone who has livestock slaughtered. But it is a crippling disease and the only strategy from the assembly government at the moment is the slaughter of infected cattle. If you have an infected animal, it's a reservoir of infection.'

A spokesman for the Skanda Vale temple at Llanpumpsaint, near Carmarthen, said: 'People all around the world are praying for Shambo. We have had calls from India, Japan, Canada and New Zealand - everyone wants Shambo to be saved. The webcam will give people the chance to see what a lovely animal he is. We are calling it MooTube.'

As the countdown to Shambo's execution began, monks urged lawyers to apply for an injunction to stop him being killed. The black bull, garlanded with flowers, is being kept in a shrine at the temple.

Government veterinary doctor Christianne Glossop visited the temple. Monks at the temple claimed that they had written confirmation from the vet that Shambo was in excellent health and showed no clinical signs of TB.

Meanwhile, Jay Lakhani, director of the London-based Vivekananda Centre, urged sections of the Hindu community not to blow the issue out of proportion. He said that the controversy was 'making a mockery of Hinduism' and also ignored the serious health issues at stake.

Lakhani said: 'If there is even the slightest risk of the disease spreading to other animals or even humans, then the way forward would be to put down the animal. The life of the bull is sacred but so are the lives of other livestock or humans who may - even accidentally - come in contact with this bull.'

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