The steer that made headlines last month by bolting across the University of Kentucky campus and leading would-be captors on a 3-mile chase up and down Cooper Drive is posing a new dilemma for the college: what to do with him?
The full-grown black Angus mix had been part of a nutrition study and was on the way to slaughter when it escaped from the college of agriculture.
Now, the steer is drastically different from the other cattle in the study and might skew the results, said Nancy Cox, agriculture college dean.
"He's off the experiment," she said.
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The steer can't, at least for now, be processed for meat and sold in the butcher shop that the college has on campus because of a tranquilizer administered during the two-hour ordeal.
Besides that, last week the steer was a little off color.
"Honestly, he's still not feeling all that well," Cox said. "His legs seem sore, and he's not eating like we'd like him to."
The steer is in a pen, under observation and receiving veterinary care.
"We'd never put an injured animal, suffering from inflammation, into the food chain," Cox said. "Right now, we just want him to feel better. ... There's not a lot of literature on exercise physiology on cattle. Not a body of work on stress-induced injury."
Looking down the road, the college is considering all options, including whether there might be a future role for the steer outside of a hamburger bun.
Is there a way to capitalize on the 15 minutes of fame? After all, it isn't often that farm animals become Twitter celebrities.
Richard Coffey, chairman of the department of animal and food sciences, said it would be nice to find a use for the steer in promoting the department.
"What that would look like, I'm not sure," Coffey said. "He did get a lot of publicity. If there were some way to help bring good publicity to the program ... Anything we can do to help better educate the public on where their food comes from, in a way that promotes animal care and well-being, would be good. ... That's the message we would want to get out."
Coffey said that as we get several generations removed from the farm, "people don't necessarily understand the connection between animals raised for food production and what they buy in Kroger."
But using a "spokes-steer" could be tricky: the steer won't, for instance, be making public appearances.
The steer probably isn't a good candidate for a petting zoo, Coffey said.
"Most of these animals aren't," he said. "They are not necessarily unfriendly, but they've not been raised in an environment that makes them super 'pet friendly.'"
And there's the size factor, he said.
"He's a 1,400-, 1,500-pound steer," Coffey said. "If he were to get excited, he could potentially hurt somebody."
Adam Menker, the UK rodeo team member who finally roped the steer on Cooper Drive that day, said that he can attest to that.
"I was nervous, and he had a reputation for charging by that time," Menker said Saturday.
At one point, when Menker was right in front of the steer, he was between a tree and a truck.
"I thought for sure I was going to be stuck right in the middle. He came at me, but then he just stopped," Menker said.
Menker said it's tough to see a way to capitalize on the steer's fleeting fame.
"If they don't do it soon, the story's gone," he said.
Of the many e-mails and comments about the situation, Cox said, some said the steer should be allowed to live, but most said "he'd make a good barbecue."
For now, the steer is at UK's 600-acre farm in Woodford County, resting comfortably.
The college is considering letting the steer be adopted by a private party, Cox said. The difficulty is finding a suitable home for what might best be described as a pasture ornament.
"We're not in a hurry, we have room for him," Cox said. "We just want him to feel better."