BROOKLYN — He saved a lamb from the slaughter, but it was the wrong one.
After reading about a sheep slated to be butchered for a Muslim holiday that briefly escaped from the Al Noor Halal Meat Market Tuesday, animal rights activist Mike Stura was determined to rescue it.
He drove from New Jersey to Brooklyn Tuesday night with his wife in hope to shepherd the sheep to an Upstate sanctuary.
Stura called Mohammed Aldeen, the owner of the market, over the phone on his way into the city and convinced him to hand over the sheep for free as an act of good will.
But when he got there it was jammed with people picking up their lambs for the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha.
In the confusion, the animal lover was given the wrong sheep, a spotted brown ewe.
"I realized immediately [it was the wrong lamb]," said Stura, 47, who could tell by pictures of the runaway that he got a different one.
He said he didn't cause a fuss at the time because, "I just wanted to get that girl home, out of that situation and to make sure she was safe."
He named the sheep he was able to save "Aysha," which Stura explained means "life" in Arabic, and drove it up to an animal sanctuary in Watkins Glen Wednesday afternoon.
"She will have a great life. She'll have a big pasture," said Stura, who started rescuing animals about three and a half years ago after becoming vegan.
Stura, who cares for four dogs, three parrots, two chickens and two ducks at his home, doesn't feel he was purposely duped, but that Aldeen honestly did not know exactly which sheep had run away.
Still, after mulling over his actions all night he decided to go back to Al Noor Wednesday morning and see if he could save the runaway lamb, but by the time he got there it was too late. There were no sheep left.
Eid Al-Adha, which honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God, is a busy time for Halal markets. The lambs are slaughtered and divided into thirds to be shared by family and those who are less fortunate.
Aldeen was apologetic.
"I checked again and I didn't find it," he said. "At least we saved one."
He hopes saving Aysha could lead to other animals being spared.
"Hopefully, she'll help advocate for other's like her just by her story being told," he said.