NEW YORK — The four one-horned creatures being billed by a circus as unicorns are actually goats, a federal veterinarian declared today, but he said he personally had no objections to calling them unicorns.
By whatever name, they are being well treated by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, said Dr. Gerald Toms, the state's chief veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The animals, being touted as "living unicorns," have prompted protests from humane society officials since the circus hit Madison Square Garden last week.
Toms said he conducted a surprise inspection at the circus Tuesday night and found that "genetically they're goats. But if you want to surrender to whimsy, then they're unicorns."
Toms said his inspectors believe that as kids, the goats had their natural horn buds moved from the sides of their heads to the middle in a simple bud graft and that what has since grown is the animals' fused, natural horn.