(RNS): Hindus in London are trying to prevent the slaughter of a sacred bull which has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and which, according to government regulations, must be euthanized.
The bull, called Shambo, is one of a herd of 35 cattle owned by a Hindu temple in Wales, the Community of the Many Names of God. The temple also has about 15 water buffalo and an elephant -- believed to be the only Hindu temple elephant in the West, and a gift from the Sri Lankan government.
The cattle and water buffalo had their routine TB test in mid-February. Shambo's test was inconclusive, but when he was retested on April 24, the result was positive.
"This doesn't mean he has TB," the temple's Brother Michael said. "It merely means he is suspected of having TB." Brother Michael said the test sometimes throws up many false positives.
But according to Graham Brooks, president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, the standard test produces "very few" false positives, between 3 and 5 percent. The problem, he said, is that the test also produces false negatives.
Shambo is now being kept in strict isolation in a specially constructed shrine. He was seen on Tuesday (May 8) by the temple's veterinarian, who declared him to be in excellent health with no clinical signs of disease, Brother Michael said.
On May 3, the temple received official notice of intended slaughter. The temple's lawyers are investigating what legal remedies are available, and plan to hold talks with government officials about the case.
Hindus say they are scandalized by the idea of Shambo being killed.
"If we were to permit (the government) to kill Shambo, it would be an appalling desecration of life, the sanctity of our temple, and Hinduism as a whole," said Brother Michael.
If necessary, supporters plan to form a human chain around Shambo's shrine to prevent his being taken away for slaughter.
The temple also has the support of the Hindu Forum of Britain, which acts on behalf of Britain's 700,000 Hindus. "Killing a sacred temple cow or bull is considered to be highly sacrilegious," the Forum said in a statement.