PASO ROBLES, Calif. - A happy ending for Panda, the steer burned and tortured last year in Paso Robles.
NewsChannel 3 has learned that Marcy Christmas, a resident of Camarillo, has paid $10,000 to buy Panda's freedom; The steer will live out its life at the Animal Place, an animal sanctuary in Grass Valley.
The deal was finalized Tuesday afternoon in Paso Robles.
The steer was corralled as part of an FFA program at Paso Robles High School when Garrett Evan Kaplan allegedly poured flammable liquid on the calf and set fire to it last November. The 23-year-old was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.
The calf was five months old at the time and suffered burns across its head and back.
Panda was slated to go on the auction block this week at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles and destined for slaughter.
The steer's owner, Dylan Wilkinson, issued a statement that reads in part: "This has been a very troubling experience these last few months and I have made the final decision to pull my steer "Panda" from the 2014 California Mid-State Fair..I did not want to risk someone being harmed or harassed due to my decision to take "Panda" to the fair..No, this was not because of the money, this was because the huge toll this has taken on my family and others involved."
Wilskinson wrote that he plans to put Christmas' "extremely generous offer" toward his future education, hopefully at Oklahoma State University.