Bonnie’s life was turned upside down when she was just four months old and barely left her mother’s side.
A farm in upstate New York had given birth to the calf. However, when the farm’s owner died, the cows on the property were scheduled to be sold. Bonnie and her mother, like so many other cows, were doomed to be separated.
Bonnie’s herd was being put into the truck one day last summer when she decided to make a break for it and flee into the woods.
Bonnie’s escape became something of a legend among the locals.
The minutes ticked away. The temperature dropped. Despite this, no one had been able to apprehend the calf. People, though, were aware that she was still present.
Some sightings were from eyewitnesses who saw her going across their property, while others came from images taken by local hunters using wildlife cameras placed up around Holland, New York. And there were a lot of differing viewpoints on what should be done with the fugitive cow.
“By occasionally venturing out of the safety of the forest, 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,” Farm Sanctuary media relations specialist Meredith Turner-Smith told The Dodo. “Both groups looked for her in the woods, which had been buried beneath three feet of snow for the whole winter, but the ‘babe in the woods’ remained concealed. That is until she was discovered on wildlife cams by hunters. And what they saw astounded them.”
Bonnie the mythological bovine fugitive may have been separated from her family, but she was not alone.
Bonnie had found herself in the company of a herd of wild deer that seemed to adopt her as one of their own.
“Because Bonnie had lost her original family (and cattle are herd animals), the deer assisted her in surviving and welcomed her as one of their own, eating, sleeping, and running with her!” Turner-Smith stated the following. “Whenever people appeared, this ‘bovine Bambi’ would vanish into the forest like a deer.”
Despite the fact that Bonnie had found love and comfort in the woods, those who followed her story realized that Bonnie, as a domesticated animal unsuited to the harsh winter woods of upstate New York, couldn’t stay with her new herd indefinitely if she was to grow up to be a strong, healthy cow.
Fortunately, someone was keeping an eye on Bonnie: Becky, a neighbor, determined to assist Bonnie in surviving the winter.
“A compassionate neighbor recognized that the woods were no place for a cow, and he assisted her in surviving the winter by traveling through the snow each day on a sled, bringing food, drink, and fresh bedding to her,” Turner-Smith added. “After gradually gaining Bonnie’s trust, she sought assistance from Farm Sanctuary.”
Farm Sanctuary’s staff underestimated how tough it would be to persuade Bonnie to give up her wild lifestyle, even if it was for her own welfare. Bonnie spent eight months in the woods with her deer family, which appeared to convince her that this was the only life she could live – albeit a difficult one.
Rescuers had to make three tries over the course of two weeks to finally convince Bonnie to come to the refuge.
“Because catching her in the woods was too dangerous, we created a corral around her eating area, patiently waiting to close her in,” Turner-Smith explained. “Bonnie, on the other hand, was apprehensive of our presence; she only allowed Becky touch her and would flee if anyone else got too close.”
Bonnie’s rescuers had to make three attempts over the course of two weeks to persuade her to come to the sanctuary.
“Because catching her in the woods would be too risky,” Turner-Smith continued, “we built a corral around her eating spot and waited patiently to close her in.” “Bonnie, on the other hand, was wary of our presence, allowing only Becky to touch her and threatening to escape if anyone else came near.”
While Bonnie had to leave her deer family behind, she immediately made new pals – this time of her own kind.
Turner-Smith wrote, “Bonnie beat the odds.” “Our brave new buddy will live out her days in peace here, surrounded by loving humans and a herd of her fellow rescued cattle.”