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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Top vet's visit to 'sacred' bull
Shambo the bull
Slaughtering Shambo would 'violate' tradition, says the Hindu forum
Wales' leading vet says she is trying to be "sensitive and understanding" about a "sacred" bull facing slaughter.

As she visited its temple home, Christianne Glossop would not be drawn on Shambo's fate, but said she wanted to see how it was being kept and gain a "better understanding" of the issues.

It has tested positive for tuberculosis and is due to be killed within 10 days.

But monks at the Skanda Vale Temple in Carmarthenshire plan a human chain to prevent it being taken away.

Nearly 4,000 people have signed an online petition to save Shambo.

There has also been parliamentary support for the animal. On Friday a Commons motion asking the UK Government to grant Shambo a reprieve was tabled by the Labour MP for Hendon, Andrew Dismore.

Skanda Vale Temple, known as the Community of the Many Names of God, is a multi-denominational monastic centre, which embraces all religious faiths and includes three Hindu shrines.

Following a routine screening, veterinary officials are scheduled to slaughter Shambo after the monks were given notification on 5 May.

Dr Christianne Glossop
I assure you that we are trying to be as sensitive and understanding as we can
Dr Christianne Glossop, Welsh Assembly Government

The final decision on the British Friesian bull's fate rests with the Welsh Assembly Government.

Dr Glossop, the Welsh Assembly Government's senior veterinary officer, said: "Today's visit was to try and understand how the animal is being kept and to consider the animal's health and welfare.

"TB is a big problem across south west Wales and we have a programme of testing animals regularly to look for signs of infection.

"We are now looking at how we take the next step - we have to take this a step at a time - but I assure you that we are trying to be as sensitive and understanding as we can."

She said monks at the temple had made "huge efforts" to keep Shambo away from other wildlife to try to stop the disease spreading.

Dr Christianne Glossop (centre) with some of the brothers at Skanda Vale
Dr Christianne Glossop (centre) on her visit to the temple

But she added: "It's impossible to have perfect bio-security - that's impossible for any animal anywhere.

"There is still a potential risk for anyone who comes into contact with an animal that has tested positive for bovine TB that that person could possibly catch infection."

Members of the temple said they hoped a compromise could still be made.

Brother Alex said if not they would continue their bid to save the animal.

"We are committed to peaceful means - there is no way we would ever advocate any sort of violence or any sort of confrontation," he said.

"If there is any sort of direct action then it will be in the form of a mass prayer meeting.

"We certainly hope that the necessity for that sort of action will not arise but it has to be understood unless the worldwide Hindu community has some sort of feeling that the strength of feeling has been registered by the government then the strength of that feeling can only escalate."

"Everybody seems to be taking an interest in this"

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