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Hindu monks pray for sacred bull infected with tuberculosis

As veterinary officials planned on slaughtering a sacred bull infected with tuberculosis, Hindu monks chanted and prayed for a miracle Thursday at a monastery in rural Wales.

The plight of Shambo has been shown unfolding on an Internet Webcast, called Moo Tube, tracking the movements of the flower-garlanded bull in his hay-filled shrine at the Skanda Vale monastery in southwest Wales.

The monastery also launched an Internet campaign to save Shambo's life, and last week a Welsh judge ordered local authorities to reconsider their decision to kill the bull, considered sacred in the Hindu faith.

But the Court of Appeal in London reversed that decision Monday, ruling that killing him would be justified to prevent the disease's spread.

On Thursday morning, a veterinary official and two police officers arrived at Skanda Vale to take the bull away, but were met at the monastery's locked gates by monks who demanded that they show a court warrant. The officials left to obtain the paperwork.

Monks warned that removing the bull would be difficult even if the officials get the proper documents.

"They will have to physically desecrate a temple to get him," said Brother Michael, one of the monks. "He's locked here and we will be having an act of worship in front of where he is."

Regulations stipulate that cattle suspected of carrying bovine tuberculosis be slaughtered; the disease can be spread to other cattle, to deer and in rare cases to humans.

But Hindus revere cattle, and argued that killing Shambo would violate their religious rights.

"This is about the freedom of human beings to express their religious values," said another monk, Brother Alex. "We can't be party to the destruction of life."

The monastery suggested it could keep Shambo isolated to prevent the TB spreading. Brother Michael also said a charity in India had offered to take Shambo, but that authorities had declined permission.

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