Sacred bull should be slaughtered

The decision to slaughter a bull revered as sacred by his Hindu caretakers is justified, a British court ruled Monday.

The ruling could spell the end for Shambo, a 6-year-old Friesian bull, whose life has been in jeopardy since he tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in April.

Local regulations stipulate that cattle suspected of carrying the disease be slaughtered, but Shambo's caretakers at the Skanda Vale monastery in southwestern Wales have mounted a determined campaign to save the beast. Hindus consider cattle sacred, and lawyers for the monastery argued that slaughtering the bull would interfere with their religious rights.

The monastery also took its case before the public, creating an Internet petition, a blog containing Shambo's "daily thoughts," and even a Webcast called "Moo Tube" that tracks the bull's movements around its hay-filled shrine.

Last week, a judge in Wales ordered local authorities to reconsider their decision to slaughter the bull. But on Monday the Court of Appeal in London reversed the decision, ruling that Shambo's slaughter was justified considering the risk posed by bovine tuberculosis.

The disease can spread to other cattle and deer, and in rare cases to other animals and to humans, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The monastery said it was devastated by the news.

"This decision seriously disregards the principal tenets of Hindu Dharma (divine law)," Skanda Vale said in a statement, adding that Shambo should receive medical attention rather than be executed. "We don't cull infected humans, we treat them," the temple said.

It added that the temple's monks should not be expected to participate in any move to have Shambo killed, something Sanjay Mistry, a spokesman for the temple, said was likely to happen within the next few weeks.

Mistry said the monastery was still trying to determine whether or not it could appeal the decision.

Shambo is one of a herd of cattle kept on the monastery's 115-acre (47-hectare) spread.