Liberal Studies: Beloved Hong Kong bull Billy found dead with stomach full of plastic bags [February 20, 2019]

Compiled by Ben Pang

Officials say being fed by visitors led Billy to associate plastic bags with food

Compiled by Ben Pang |

Latest Articles

Online learning to continue as Hong Kong struggles with third wave of Covid-19

Opinion: Cancelling the China and Hong Kong Fulbright programme is a short-sighted approach

HK teen creates NGO to support students with special needs

‘Folklore’ is a surprising shift for Taylor Swift that fans will love

Billy, a bull who lived in Pui O on Lantau Island, was found dead in November. His stomach and intestinal tract were blocked with enough plastic bags to fill two rubbish bins.

Issue 2

The opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has worsened the problem of feral cattle consuming human food and plastic bags. More visitors are joining local residents in feeding the animals in a tourist area near the link’s checkpoint on Lantau Island, say activists.

Referring to the death of Billy the bull, Greenpeace campaigner Chan Hall-sion said: “I believe this tragedy happened partly because people were leaving behind their trash after going to the beach or to the countryside.” She added that beaches were high-risk areas, as single-use plastics thrown into bins could easily be blown back out into the surrounding area. “Don’t think that you’ve already done your part by throwing rubbish into the bin,” Chan said.

We need to take responsibility for our consumerism and how that impacts wildlife

Kathy Daxon, who chairs the Tai O Community Cattle Group, said locals and tourists continued to feed cattle in Ngong Ping, a tourist area housing the famed Big Buddha and a cable car. “The problem got worse after the bridge opened,” Daxon said, referring to the rise in the number of people visiting Ngong Ping following the opening of the mega cross-border bridge to traffic on October 24.

According to Ngong Ping 360, which operates the cable car linking Po Lin Monastery and Tung Chung, the number  of riders increased by 20 per cent in November last year, after the bridge opened. Daxon said people should not feed the cattle as they graze on grass and leaves in the area. “People do not realise that if a cow gets sick, it might be put down,” she added.

Two porpoise carcasses found on HK shores bring number of cases this year to 15 - a worrying trend, green group says

Without proper signs at Ngong Ping,  Daxon said visitors and locals feed cattle human food such as apples, bread, cake, sausages and chicken meat, all of which may endanger the animals’ health. In some cases, she said people might drop a bag of food when cattle approached, leaving the animals to eat both the plastic bag and its contents.

Though volunteers had tried to stop people feeding the cattle, Daxon said it was not always effective as some were reluctant to do so. Daxon said that visitors and locals should be educated and learn not to feed the cows. Should the problem continue, Daxon said, more cattle will suffer the same fate as Billy.

Question prompts: 

- Why do you think Billy’s stomach and intestinal tract were blocked by plastic bags?

- Do you think feeding animals is an act of kindness?

Edited by M.J. Premaratne

Read Issue 1 here

Read Issue 3 here