Target: Vaughn Williams, Director of Athletics, Kennesaw State University
Goal: Ban use of live animals as mascots at university sporting events
Last year Kennesaw State University, located in Georgia, acquired a Eurasian eagle owl named Sturgis and began using it as a performing mascot during school sporting events. The use of this owl for entertainment purposes at the expense of its safety and innate animal rights is reprehensible. KSU must release Sturgis and discontinue all use of live animals as mascots.
All wild animals have rights, and those rights need to be respected. Eurasian eagle owls are not stuffed animals. They have their own unique requirements and interests as well as the right to dwell instinctually in their natural habitats. Instinct would have an owl roosting peacefully with a mate during daylight hours instead of being terrorized by the screams of thousands of stadium fans. Instinct would have an owl hunting for mice after dusk instead of being terrorized by bright arena lights, hundreds of flashing cameras, and more screaming. Birds instilled with this kind of terror can panic, which may result in serious injury. KSU’s gross violation of Sturgis’ basic animal rights, therefore, also serves as a form of animal abuse.
In recent years birds similar to Sturgis have been harmed while being forced to perform in front of large crowds. At Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, a bald eagle crashed violently into a window, and, at a hockey match, a condor smashed into the Plexiglass surrounding the ice after escaping its handler. No matter how well-trained Sturgis may be and no matter what, if any, precautions are put into place, KSU cannot guarantee Sturgis’ safety and well-being while performing as a mascot. When you consider the fact that live animals are not necessary for collegiate sporting events to take place, any injury or death experienced by a mascot would seem especially senseless and cruel.
Kennesaw State University may have had the best of intentions in adopting the use of a live owl as a mascot, but they need to rethink their position. The use of live animals as school mascots is blatant animal exploitation and abuse of animal rights. KSU can set an example for other universities to follow: animal exploitation and abuse is not the best way to represent an institution dedicated to higher learning. By signing the petition below you will demand that Kennesaw State University implement an institutional policy that bans all use of live animals as school mascots.
Dear Mr. Williams, Director of Athletics, Kennesaw State University,
I was disheartened to hear that Kennesaw State University had begun using a live Eurasian eagle owl as a performing mascot during some of its sporting events. Although you may have had the best of intentions in acquiring the use of Sturgis, I beg you to reconsider your position; using live animals for entertainment is a blatant violation of their basic animal rights and a form of animal abuse.
Wild animals are meant to roam within their natural habitats, engaging their own unique animal instincts. This is their right. Owls, especially, are not meant to inhabit crowded arenas and be assailed and terrorized by screaming fans and flashing lights. No matter how well-trained Sturgis may be, such an unnatural and frightful scene may cause him to panic and injure himself. Similar birds have recently undergone such incidents. At Oral Roberts University, a bald eagle crashed violently into a window and, at a hockey match, a condor smashed into the Plexiglass surrounding the ice after escaping its handler.
Please do the right thing and release Sturgis and do everything within your power to get Kennesaw State University to implement an institutional policy that bans the use of live animals as mascots. Find a more humane way to represent yourselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Maurice van Bruggen at Wikimedia Commons