The 11-year-old ox, named Lou, was put down after a recurring injury to his hind leg continued to deteriorate, Green Mountain College in Poultney said.
Lou and another ox were retired this summer from the college's working farm. The school planned to turn them into beef products to be served in the college dining hall as it has done with other livestock and in keeping with the school's emphasis on sustainable agriculture.
That decision drew fire from animal rights activists who wanted the oxen spared and had found a sanctuary for them.
In a statement, the college said it decided to euthanize Lou after veterinarians agreed his condition would worsen.
"The arrival of cold temperatures and icy conditions are certain to increase his suffering, and we have concurred with our veterinarians' judgment that it was not humane for him to suffer further," the statement said.
The college said Lou's work partner, Bill, would not be sent to a sanctuary and instead would stay at the school farm and receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practices.
Following the school's decision to have Bill and Lou slaughtered, critics signed online petitions and sent thousands of emails from around the world.
Even area slaughterhouses were threatened, preventing the small liberal arts college from finding a place to butcher them, school officials said.
The uproar began after VINE Sanctuary, based in Springfield, Vt., offered a home for the animals and urged followers to contact Green Mountain College asking it to reconsider its decision.
VINE Sanctuary's coordinator, Miriam Jones, said she was saddened to hear of Lou's death.
"We're deeply saddened and we hope Bill can live out the rest of his years in a happy, healthy environment," she said.
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