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Sick bull's slaughter is justified, court rules

LONDON -- The decision to slaughter a bull revered as sacred by his Hindu caretakers is justified, a British court ruled yesterday, overturning a decision by a lower court last week.

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 campaign to save the beast. Hindus consider cattle sacred, and lawyers for the monastery contended that slaughtering the bull would interfere with their religious rights.

The monastery also took its case to 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 yesterday, 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 deer and other cattle, and in rare cases to humans, according to the Department for Environment, Food , and Rural Affairs.