Controversy and outrage can be heard across Lubbock after the American Museum of Agriculture had two mules euthanized for a local exhibit.
Museum board members released a statement on Monday saying the mules will be part of the McCormick reaper display. "After an exhaustive but fruitless search for preserved, exhibit-quality animals, one of our board members learned that an area horse and mule trader had purchased a pair of mules that would fit our needs. According to the owner, the animals had reached the advanced ages of about 28 and 32, respectively, and were no longer sound or strong enough for normal use."
The statement continued: "Had the Museum not purchased these animals, the next option for the trader would have been to sell them to be transported into Mexico for slaughter for dog food. Instead, the mules were humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian and will become excellent educational exhibits for years and years to come."
However many are questioning the museum's decision and just how humane it really was.
"I said please don't do this, you know there's got to be a better way. I can give them a home," Ramona Foxworth said. Since 2003 Ramona has been rescuing animals, and when she heard about the museum's decision to euthanize the mules she joined the fight against it.
All Monday morning Ramona tried begging board members to change their minds, but she was too late – the mules had already been put down.
"I just believe with all my heart this is the wrong thing to do. I think it's absolutely abhorrent, and disgusting and so archaic. I'm horrified by it," she said. "First of all they're going to want something that's nice and healthy and filled, and if they've been looking so long and hard I doubt they're going to settle on a really decrepit, old broken down couple of mules."
"Many that came to me would have given them a great home. They could have lived out the end of their days under an apple tree which is probably what they deserved anyway," Ramona said.
Many like Ramona are wondering why the museum did not go with other options like fiber-glass replicas of mules. In the board members statements it addresses that question: "Our board did consider the use of fiberglass replicas but were advised that the impact of the exhibit would be substantially diminished. Mr. Phil Paramore of Museum Arts said, "The reason that you use a real animal is to most accurately show the way the activity was done at the time. A fiberglass replica just doesn't convey the same message."
Despite the criticism and harsh backlash, the museum board members stood by their decision as stated in their release: "When we can find animals that were scheduled to be destroyed anyway and then immortalize them in an exhibit we can really show their importance in the development of agriculture."
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