MEXICO — Billy the Mexico goat gets to stay home and keep his friends.
Supporters of the "Free Billy" movement pooled their money to buy the footloose, Boar/Nubian goat for $2,500 at the auction held Thursday afternoon. The money will go to the Mexico/Audrain Animal Shelter.
Two donkeys, temporarily named Donkey and Donkey, who had been pen-mates with Billy, were also purchased by the group for $150 each.
"They kept him company and kept him calm," said Nikki Leach, the woman behind the campaign to make Billy the city mascot and one of his biggest supporters. She helped design the "Free Billy" T-shirts, more than 700 of which have been sold already.
Billy appears to be headed for the good life, as he will be housed at a Mexico-area farm owned by Bobette and Warren Wilson. Although he may not become the official city mascot, the group plans to make him a goodwill ambassador.
"I really thought that he should stay in Mexico because of what he's done, brought people out like this," Bobette Wilson said, sporting a T-shirt saying 'Got Goat? Mexico, Missouri does!'
Pat Schindler, another member of the informal group, agrees. "Our town has needed something like this," Schindler said. "At least we're not known as 'the town where that murder was' — we're known for something fun."
The bid for Billy was a community effort. Although the group had set aside some money to buy Billy, people came forward right before the auction and kicked in more than $1,100.
The two donkeys were more of an impulse buy for the group.
"They wanted the three amigos to be together," said Charles Heller, who represented the group at the auction.
Amanda Schrock, the wife of Mervin Beechy, who lassoed Billy into captivity and hid him in the days leading up to the auction, said she is happy with how things turned out.
"It was fun while it lasted," Schrock said. "But we're just glad it's over."