CHITTENDEN, VERMONT-After 10 years of dedicated service, a small rural college in the northeastern state of Vermont have announced their plans to slaughter a beloved pair of oxen named Bill and Lou.
Green Mountain College, known for its courses in sustainable living, plans to serve the oxen meat in its dining hall.
For the last 10 years, Bill and Lou have been a daily sight working the campus's Cerridwen Farm; But Lou has difficulty walking these days after stepped in a gopher hole earlier this year, and injured his leg.
Ben Dube, a member of the farm staff and a graduate of the college, stated, “Lou's injury hasn't gotten better. And since oxen work as a team, the 11-year-old pair was retired.”
Because of their massive size, gentle nature and their dedication to teamwork, they have become celebrity mascots on campus and beyond.
"These two individuals have become veritable mascots for the school. They are the profile picture on the farm's Facebook page," says Miriam Jones, cofounder of Vine, an animal sanctuary in Springfield, Vt.
Vine offered to take the oxen to live at its farm for free. Vine’s Pattrice Jones says they were stunned when the college declined, citing sustainability as one of its reasons.
“We do not believe that the way to conserve resources is to kill the elderly and disabled to prevent them from using up resources because they’re not useful anymore," Jones says. "We just ethically find that repugnant.”
Philip Ackerman-Leist heads Green Mountain College’s Farm and Food project.
“We have been very clear from the beginning that this is not a petting zoo," he says. "It was going to be a sustainable farm operation.”
Philosophy professor Steve Fesmire teaches classes on animal and environmental ethics at the college.
“Sending Bill and Lou to sanctuary can legitimately be regarded as avoiding the issue," he says.
Fesmire believes the controversy over Bill and Lou has forced an important discussion on campus and beyond - namely how we feel about the 10 billion other animals that are slaughtered in the United States every year - and how they’re treated.
Jone is not the only one that is questioning Fesmire's philosophy as an ethics teacher. His status-quo approach to Bill and Lou’s situation leaves little room for teaching the students the lesson called compassion.
Links to the Save Bill and Lou’s campaign:
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