An image has been removed from the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) upcoming 2020 calendar – after a number of complaints.
The offending image features seven male naked veterinary students holding up sheep to cover their genitals.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, the Veterinary Vegan Network (VVN) reportedly branded the image ‘deeply disturbing’.
The RVC says some of its students received ‘obscene, threatening and illegal’ threats – which will be reported to the authorities – following the VNN’s post.
Many of the complaints appear to revolve around the use of the animals in the image, with one Twitter user writing: “Vets are supposed to care for and save animals….not abuse them for a photo opportunity.”
The British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) has waded into the row, arguing that the way the men are holding the sheep is standard practice.
“This is widely recognized as being safe and pain-free for the animals. As such, the BCVA feel that singling this image and these students out for attention is grossly unfair. Some of the vitriol spread in their direction from members of the same profession…is both grossly unfair, unfounded and should be condemned,” added the BCVA.
But the RVC published a statement about the image, saying: “We have taken action to explain to our students why this behavior is inappropriate and have asked them to remove the calendar and its photographs from distribution with immediate effect.”
Principal Stuart Reid accepted responsibility, adding: “To those who have taken offense at the calendar, I apologize. It may have fallen short of the standards some expect in terms of animal welfare, but that responsibility is mine. The complaints and attacks should be directed to me and me alone.”
The RVC Students’ Union blasted college management, saying its statement had ‘given credence to the negative response from a minority group online who now feel emboldened to target individual students with personal threats’.
The calendar – minus the image of the naked students and sheep – will be published on a date yet to be announced.