Benjy the 'gay' bull: Simpsons' Sam Simon co-funds Hillside Animal Sanctuary home

Benjy the gay bull at Hillside Animal Sanctuary
Image caption Benjy arrived at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk on Sunday after more than 10 hours of travelling

A gay bull saved after a campaign backed by Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon appears to have found romance within minutes of arriving at his new home.

Benjy, from County Mayo, Ireland, was destined for the abattoir after showing more interest in breeding with other bulls than cows.

He arrived at Norfolk's Hillside Animal Sanctuary on Sunday where he befriended Alex, a one-year-old bullock.

"He's a handsome little lad, so you can't blame him," said a spokeswoman.

Mr Simon said it "thrills" him to have helped Benjy.

Image caption One-year-old Alex helped calm Benjy who was slightly "stressed" after his long trip
Image caption Benjy arrived to a gathering of the media ready to capture the two-year-old's arrival in Norfolk. His plight was championed by the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) in Ireland

Stefanie Leary, yard manager at Hillside, said: "Benjy's here because he's gay and is of no use to the farming industry. This has happened to have saved his life.

"Today has gone reasonably well. He's travelled a long distance and is stressed, but he's coping with it well."

Image caption Benjy will spend a few days in isolation, but within sight of Alex and others for company

Gay and animal rights campaigners launched a joint online appeal to save the two-year-old Charolais bull.

It raised £10,000 in weeks, helped by a £5,000 donation from Mr Simon. The money will be used to fund Benjy's keep and welfare.

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Media captionBenjy quickly settled into his new Norfolk home

The Simpson's producer, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, was alerted to the bull's plight by animal rights campaigners PETA.

"I believe in compassion and empathy for all living beings - regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or species," he said.

It thrills me to know that his fate is a sanctuary rather than a sandwich

Sam Simon
Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Sam Simon co-created The Simpsons and is now helping animal welfare projects worldwide

"I felt compelled to help. 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.

"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."

Since being diagnosed with cancer, Mr Simon has donated millions of dollars, earned through creating TV cartoon The Simpsons, to various animal welfare projects around the world.

He said helping animals is "like a therapy".

Image caption Alex, who lives in the next pen, seemed to catch Benjy's eye upon his arrival at Hillside
Image caption Benjy was transported by ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard and then 360 miles (579km) by road to Norfolk

Benjy will be castrated as the sanctuary, near Norwich, has a primary role to care for rescued animals not breed their own stock.

"We put any animal arriving with us into quarantine to access their personality and requirements," said Hillside's John Watson.

"Cows have real personalities so depending on what Benjy is like we'll then place him with a herd to which he's best suited.

"Once we've found him a herd he'll be with them for life as animals form very strong bonds with each other so we would never split them up."

Image caption Benjy gave yard staff the run around when he temporarily escaped from his isolation pen

The sanctuary cares for more than 2,000 animals, including 300 cattle, the majority of which have been saved from the farming industry.

As for Benjy's early interest in Alex, Ms Leary said: "He's a handsome little lad, so you can't blame him - but it might be just Benjy's interest in cows in general - but you never know, watch this space as they say."

Homosexual behaviour has been observed in 1,500 animal species with bats widely thought to be the animals with the highest rate of homosexuality among their male population.

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