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Merry Christmas for Benjy the gay bull as he arrives at animal sanctuary

Benjy the gay bull looks set to have a very merry Christmas as he arrives at his new home having been saved from the slaughterhouse.

The bull, from Co Mayo in the Irish Republic, was set to be slaughtered due to his sexual orientation.

 However, he was saved after his plight attracted global attention thanks to animal rights groups and donations from around the world, including co-creator of The Simpsons, Sam Simon.

Benjy was being fattened for the butcher after his farmer owner complained he was not sexually interested in cows.

Now he is set for a happier life at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in near the Norfolk village of Frettenham.

After launching a fundraising drive to save Benjy, Sam Simon, the Hollywood producer behind The Simpsons and other hit comedy series such as Cheers and Taxi, stumped up the €6,250 needed to buy the bull.

Mr Simon, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, has vowed to use his $100 million (€80 million) fortune to help animal causes before he dies.

"I believe in compassion and empathy for all living beings, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or species. That's why when PETA told me about 'Benjy, the gay bull', I felt compelled to help," said Simon.

"All animals have a dire destiny in the meat and dairy industries, but for Benjy to have been killed because of his sexual orientation would have been a double tragedy."

He added: "My health won't allow me to travel to the UK to see Benjy in his new home, but it thrills me to know that his fate is a sanctuary rather than a sandwich, and I know the folks at PETA and ARAN will keep me updated on his progress."

Simon also hopes Benjy's story will inspire others to help animals.

"While it will be a happy holiday season for Benjy, it won't be for the millions of other animals on farms living in their own filth, denied everything that is natural and important to them," he said.

"I'd encourage anyone moved by Benjy's plight to help other animals like him by choosing to leave all animals off their plates and opt for a vegan Christmas dinner."

More than 250 others also contributed towards the cause through a crowd-funding scheme set up by Irish animal protection group Aran and TheGayUK.com.

John Carmody, of Aran, said: "What could be better than to present Benjy with a Christmas gift that will literally last a lifetime, by giving him a one-way ticket to freedom."

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