It was just another match between Panamanian club Pereira and Columbia’s Atletico Juniors (Barranquilla) — that is until Pereira defender Luis Moreno decided to kick an injured, defenseless owl that had landed on the pitch.
After the owl was struck and apparently dazed by an attempted Pereira clearance, the referee stopped play to attend to the injured bird. Unfortunately, before help could arrive, the owl suffered the further misfortune of taking Moreno’s boot to the face — a horrific gesture that eventually led to the bird’s death.
Making matters worse, it turns out this owl just happened to be Barranquilla’s mascot of sorts, and even lived in the stadium. Not surprising, then, that Moreno was instantly jeered with taunts of “murderer, murderer!” from the home team’s supporters, and eventually had to be escorted out under police guard at the end of the match.
Judicial authorities in Colombia have hinted at the possibility that charges will be brought against Moreno, and current animal protection laws in the South American country could bring a jail sentence of one to three months and/or a fine between $2.60 and $26.00…
This is assuming, of course, that vigilante justice doesn’t reach Moreno first. According to ColumbiaReports.com, Luis has reportedly received multiple death threats due to the fatal incident, prompting Moreno’s own mother to appear on Colombian television to express her concern:
I am his mother. I am very worried. I know my son did that [kicking the owl], but not with the intention to kill the animal.
Conversely, Moreno’s daughter hasn’t been quite as diplomatic, making her feelings known via her Facebook page:
Those f***king Colombians threw the animal [on to the field] to mess, but it bit them in the ass. Leave my dad in peace
In Moreno’s defense, he has issued an official apology, and claims he had no idea the owl was Barranquilla’s mascot/good luck charm. So I guess that just makes him a heartless, cruel, owl-hating S.O.B.