PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have sent a letter to the Portuguese football club offering to buy an eagle costume for a human mascot to replace the use of the birds at the stadium.

“Because eagles, solitary animals, do not deserve a stressful and noisy stadium environment, PETA has sent a letter asking Benfica football club to remove Vitória, Gloriosa and any other live mascot eagles to be taken to a sanctuary, while offering to buy an eagle costume for a human mascot that can take their place”.

“Simply put, eagles don't belong at sporting events,” writes PETA Vice President Mimi Bekhechi. “In the wild, these magnificent birds roam vast territories, spend most of their time above trees, roam freely and hunt in wide spaces. Those used only for show are denied the opportunity to engage in their natural behaviour, which leads to extreme frustration and stress.

“If Your Excellency agrees to move the birds to a sanctuary, PETA will cover the costs and replace them with a fabulous eagle costume that is sure to be a hit with Benfica fans,” continues Bekhechi. “Please join other clubs that show compassion for animals in pledging not to use live animals as pets.”

Vitória, a bald eagle, is the primary mascot of Benfica and before each match at the Estádio da Luz, it flies around the stadium and then lands above the crest of the club. Gloriosa is another eagle that also flies at the stadium, carrying red and white ribbons.

The Portugal News contacted Benfica football club for a comment, but at the time of going to press they had not provided a reply.