A runaway cow who escaped the slaughterhouse found an unlikely family who took her in. Born in an upstate New York farm, 4-month old Bonnie the calf saw the other cows being herded and rounded up to be taken away to be slaughtered and somehow managed to escape, running for the woods. The young cow’s story spread around the town and many had different ideas of what should happen to the animal.
Some wanted to make sure she was safe and protected in an animal sanctuary and others believed she should be hunted.
Bonnie managed to stay hidden until she was discovered by wildlife cameras set up by hunters, where she was seen laying on hay with a family of deer, who had protected the calf while she was on the run.
A local neighbor began visiting Bonnie to bring her food and care for her and, once she gained the animal’s trust, called an animal sanctuary who came and transported her to their location.
Meredith Turner-Smith, media relations specialist for Farm Sanctuary in Ithaca, NY who took in Bonnie, told The Dodo: “Venturing out of the safety of the forest only for occasional sightings, Bonnie quickly became a local celebrity, dividing the Holland community into two groups: those who were ‘Team Bonnie’ and rooted for her to survive, and those who were determined to shoot and eat her.”
Turner-Smith added: “Both groups searched for her in the woods — which stayed buried under 3 feet of snow all winter — but aside from quick glimpses, the ‘babe in the woods’ remained hidden. That is, until hunters started picking her up on wildlife cameras. And what they saw truly amazed them.”
Bonnie was welcomed into a family of deer, as Turner-Smith noted: “Since she had lost her first family (and cattle are herd animals), the deer helped Bonnie survive and accepted her as their own — eating, sleeping and running together!”
“Like a deer, this ‘bovine Bambi’ would disappear into the forest whenever people appeared,” she added.
The neighbor who assisted the cow was definitely “Team Bonnie,” as Turner-Smith explained: “A kind neighbor knew the woods were no place for a cow, and helped her survive the winter by trekking through the snow each day, bringing food, water and fresh bedding to her on a sled. And after slowly winning Bonnie’s trust, she called Farm Sanctuary for help.”
Bonnie had to be convinced about leaving her new family since she had spent eight months with them! It took two weeks and several attempts to get Bonnie to come to the sanctuary, as Turner-Smith explained: “Since it was too risky to try catching her in the woods, we built a corral around her eating space, patiently waiting to close her in.”
Eventually, they were able to tempt her with food in the corral and gave her a sedative so she could be transported to the sanctuary. Turner-Smith explained just how remarkable Bonnie’s journey was, noting: “Bonnie beat the odds. Here, our resilient new friend will spend her life in peace, surrounded by caring humans and a loving herd of her fellow rescued cattle.”