If this was pigeon no one would be making a fuss.
Plenty of sports teams have a live animal that represents their school as their team’s mascot. The University of Georgia has a bulldog named Uga, who patrols the sidelines on a leash during games. The University of Texas has Bevo the longhorn, who’s tied securely.
It’s very common for these mascots to be considered a good luck charm. However there is a major issue with having a living animal on the sideline: What if it escapes?
On Sunday, during a soccer match in Barranquilla, Colombia, a team’s owl mascot landed on the field of play and was accidentally struck by the ball. After players realized what had happened, the referee stopped by to inspect the bird that was laying on it’s back with wings spread. But before the bird could be helped off the field, Luis Moreno, a defender for the opposing team, decided to move the process along a bit.
In a moment that he surely regrets, Moreno nonchalantly kicked the bird roughly three yards off the pitch, during a nationally televised game during a stoppage of play. The crowd reigned down boos and chants proclaiming Moreno to be a murderer.
In the post-game interview Moreno claims to have had no idea that the owl represented the Athletico Junior’s mascot and that he kicked the bird to “see if the owl could fly.”
This may be true, but as you can see in the video below the kick was far greater than a nudge to see it the bird could fly. And since this is Colombia we’re talking about, Moreno’s momentary lapse in judgment has led to death threats, and he now fears for his life.
The owl died over thirty hours after Sunday’s incident due to injuries suffered by the accidental strike of the ball, along with Moreno’s unnecessary and forceful dispatching.
In American culture owls are simply birds, winged guardians of the night looking for rodents to snack on. They tend to be considered wise and always know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop. However we rarely encounter them, so at the end of they day they are still birds, nothing more nothing less.
We aren’t fanatical about owls, but we find them fascinating enough to make movies about them in IMAX 3D. And judging by our love of pets and anything with fur or feathers, Moreno would have faced harsh criticism here as well, and most likely would have received some Michael Vick-esque treatment from animal rights groups.
Other countries and cultures have quite a higher opinion of owls. Some consider them to creatures of mystical powers, others use them in religious rituals, and some even use owls to deliver mail. These beautiful beasts are beloved by millions, so it would be advisable to not kill one on national television.
Or you might end up like Moreno, who received a two game suspension along with a lofty $560 fine.