Are we out of the woods yet?
If you’re Bonnie the cow, then yes! This adorable brown and white cow now lives at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, but it was a long, scary and sometimes magical road to get there.
At 4 months old the calf fled from her home in Holland, New York, which was a farm that raised cattle for slaughter, reports Farm Sanctuary. What made Bonnie run was the desperate cries of her bovine family, who were being rounded up to be sold to a slaughterhouse. With her owners busy loading a trailer with confused cows, Bonnie seized the moment and galloped off into the nearby forest.
Word of Bonnie’s escape quickly spread through the neighborhood, and though those wandering through the woods would catch glimpses of the cow, none were able to capture her. Weeks passed, and Bonnie remained at large. Many marveled at how the cow was able to survive on her own in the woods during the winter. They soon found the farm animal wasn’t alone.
Cameras set up in the forest by hunters started picking up footage of Bonnie surrounded by a herd of deer. Based on what the cameras were capturing, it appeared that Bonnie had found solace with the herd and that the herd, in turn, had accepted her. The cow traveled, ate and rested with the forest creatures. This herd animal, though a different species, was accepted into a new group after losing her original family.
While Bonnie appeared to be surviving in the woods, animal lover Becky Bartels knew this would not always be the case. Bonnie was a domesticated animal facing a cruel northeastern winter. After spotting Bonnie on a camera she had set up, Bartels, who owns the land that Bonnie was frolicking on with her deer friends, started approaching the cow. Throughout the winter, every day, Bartels would trek through the snow, pulling a sled carrying food and bedding for Bonnie. Eventually, the cow, who was terrified of humans after her last encounter, warmed up to Bartels and began approaching her for pats and snacks.
It sounds like a fairy tale, but Bartels knew it couldn’t last, especially with neighbors who threatened to kill the cow if she wandered onto their property. So Bartels reached out to Farm Sanctuary for help. Farm Sanctuary is a non-profit dedicated to rescuing and caring for abused, neglected and abandoned farm animals, providing them with a loving lifetime home where they can relax and not worry about being seen as food.
Farm Sanctuary sent out a rescue crew to move Bonnie out of the woods to her new home. It took a few tries, but after safely corralling and sedating Bonnie, they were able to move her onto a truck that took her to Farm Sanctuary.
After eight months out in the wild with her deer friends, Bonnie has adjusted well to her new digs at Farm Sanctuary. Here, she has made new friends and is constantly showered with the care and affection she desires.
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If you would like to learn more about Bonnie and how to help her and other animals like her, visit Farm Sanctuary’s website.