English kids send Marcus the lamb to slaughter

Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:32am EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A group of English schoolchildren who reared a lamb from birth and named it Marcus has overridden objections by parents and rights activists and voted to send the animal to slaughter.

Marcus the six-month-old lamb has now been culled, the head teacher of the primary school in Kent, southeast England, confirmed on Monday, after the school's council -- a 14-member group of children aged 6 to 11 -- voted 13-1 to have him killed.

The decision has provoked fury among animal-loving celebrities, animal and human rights campaigners and the parents of some of the children, and led to threats against Lydd primary school and its teachers, according to a member of staff.

Around 250 children at the school take part in a program designed to teach them about rearing and breeding animals.

The educational farm was started this year, with Marcus being hand-fed by the children. The children also look after ducks, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

The intention had been to buy pigs with the money raised from slaughtering Marcus, but those plans have been put on hold following the furor created by the lamb's culling. The school said the program may now have to be stopped.

"It's all up in the air," said a member of staff. "There's been so much pressure on us as a result of all this."

Despite that, the school said there had been overwhelming support among the children, the staff and most of the parents to have Marcus -- a castrated male who could not have been used for breeding -- sent to the slaughterhouse.

But opponents branded it heartless and cruel, with animal rights campaigners asking why Marcus could not have been used to teach the children about wool, and human rights campaigners worried about the emotional impact of Marcus's death on the children.   Continued...