GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) – A steer named Panda is now recovering at an animal sanctuary after being doused in kerosene and set on fire.

Panda could have easily lost his life after what he went through, but his injuries have left scars that will stay with him for life.

It almost sounds like the steer is breathing a sigh of relief now that he’s at his new home at the Animal Place Sanctuary in Grass Valley.

Marji Beach, the education director at Animal Place had little to say about the person behind the cruel crime.

“Just a sick individual who wanted to harm a baby calf,” she said.

Panda was set on fire while in the care of a Future Farmers of America program at a high school in Paso Robles. The black-and-white steer suffered severe burns across his back and head.

“Parts of his ears have been burned off and he has some injury to one of his eyes,” said Beach.

And after only a few months of recovery and everything he went through, Panda was still slated to go on the auction block at the Mid State Fair.

“He was going to be sent to the auction next week where he would have basically just gone straight to the slaughter house,” said Beach. “We kind of felt like that was the ultimate betrayal.”

Beach says a donor stepped in and paid to send Panda somewhere he would be safe.

“This is the first time he’s been in a pasture this large, so he has really been taking advantage of that,” said Beach. “He’s like a dog! He follows you; he loves his back being scratched; he knows his name.”

An animal that’s been almost killed twice is now getting yet another chance to live.

“I think Panda is showing us the extent of forgiveness an animal can have for humans who can inflict cruelty on them,” said Beach. “He still loves people. He loves to be touched and he loves interacting with people.

The man who allegedly set him on fire will face felony animal cruelty charges tomorrow in San Luis Obispo.

Vets at the Animal Place are still trying to determine if Panda’s hearing and sight were affected by the incident.

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