It is a bull otherwise destined for the abattoir, especially because it is afflicted with bovine TB. For a country slowly recovering from the mad cow disease that took a heavy toll of the country's economy and prestige, sending the six-year-old Freisian bull to the slaughterhouse is but a logical step.
But the "devout" Hindus of Carmarthenshire, a tiny hamlet in Wales in Great Britain, are not impressed by the reasoning of the Wales health authorities. The bull is sacred for us. It is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Don't touch it, they say.
AdvertisementAt the moment the government is not giving in. But one has to wait and see how the drama is played out.
A routine bovine TB test of Shambo, the bull lazing around in Skanda Vale Temple, situated at Llanpumsaint, in Carmarthenshire proved positive and so the government issued notice to the temple authorities saying the animal would have to be "put down."
The temple has come up on a 115-acre site, which is also known as the Many Names of God temple, has three Hindu shrines which attract upwards of 90,000 pilgrims every year.
The Hindu Forum of Britain is outraged and is threatening "serious international repurcusssions."
Shambo's keepers have claimed he is not proven to be a carrier of TB and said that even if it did develop "he can be expected to make a full recovery given appropriate care".
Monks at the temple say that there is no possibility of Shambo entering the human food chain and have isolated him from the rest of their herd of 55 cattle. They claim that the test shows only that there is a "statistical possibility" he could develop TB and their own vet has declared Shambo "thoroughly healthy".
The matter then 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 and a video stream broadcasts live from Shambo's pen in the temple.
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.
It is also supported by all three Welsh assembly opposition parties who have called for the slaughter of a "sacred" bullock.
After much deliberation the Welsh Assembly said that it had provisionally decided to give vets the go-ahead to slaughter Shambo, at the Skanda Vale community in Llanpumsiant, in west Wales, in order to protect animal and human health.
In addition, Jane Davidson, the assembly's Sustainability Minister, said that further tests at the start of this month had revealed that at least two other cattle in the Skanda Vale community may also have the disease. Tests are continuing, but if found to be infected these cattle are also likely to be slaughtered.
The monks have threatened to take direct action, including forming a human chain around Shambo, should vets move in to slaughter him - and have set up a webcam where viewers can watch Shambo all day long.