San Francisco police and Animal Care and Control were called out to Lake Merced on Tuesday morning to clean up the scene of what appeared to be an animal sacrifice, officials said.
Police were contacted about 11 a.m. regarding two dead animals seemingly sacrificed in the area of John Muir Drive and Lake Merced Boulevard, Officer Gordon Shyy said. Police then forwarded the call to the Animal Care and Control department.
Once there, ACC officers determined that the two animals were chukars, a type of partridge, which can generally be found at live food markets sold as game birds, spokeswoman Deb Campbell said.
Animal Care and Control receives several calls a year about similar incidents, she said, adding that the site of the sacrifice is typically surrounded by candles and chalk symbols. A picture of the scene tweeted by David Stevenson of KTVU (Ch. 2) shows the animals atop two blankets, one red and one black.
The sacrifices are thought to be part of a Santeria ritual, Campbell said. The animals sacrificed are typically livestock animals, such as fowl or game birds.
However, a recent story in the SF Weekly quoted a source knowledgeable with Santeria as saying animal sacrifices are taken much more seriously than what was displayed at the sites, and that leaving a sacrifice out in the open would disrespect the animal.
Santeria is an African-based religion originating out of Cuba and Brazil, which combines the worship of Yoruba deities and Roman Catholic saints. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that animal cruelty laws targeted toward Yoruba religions were unconstitutional.
Anyone who sees what they think is animal cruelty is encouraged to call Animal Care and Control at (415) 554-9400.