Living her best life.
A young Limousin cow escaped her pasture in November near the Bialowieza Forest in Poland. The cow was later seen accompanying a wild herd of bison, surprising anyone who saw the mismatched herd wandering around the area.
Ornithologist Adam Zbyryt took this photo in the fall that initially got everyone's attention.
Naturalists in the area expected she would return to her herd, but she never did.
And she was recently spotted again by bison expert Rafal Kowalczyk at the Mammal Research Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences, surviving the winter months with the bison herd. He describes this situation as "exceptional."
The reddish-brown cow looks to be in good health, meaning she has been foraging along with the herd successfully. The Limousin breed has thick fur and is built for harsh conditions which has likely also helped her survive in the wild. Eastern Poland has also seen a more mild winter than usual which has also contributed to her survival.
And, although people love the story of a cow running away from a farm to join a wild herd of bison, it is not good for the survival of the endangered European bison species. The cow is too young right now to mate but if she gets pregnant, the hybrid calf would likely kill her during birth since it would be much bigger than a normal cow calf. A bison and domesticated cow hybrid offsping (beefalo) would also dilute the bison gene pool, threatening the small wild bison population which already went extinct during World War I.
Scientists are planning to remove the rogue cow from the bison herd by summer, but it won't be easy. Kowalczyk said:
"The more time she spends in the herd, the riskier it will be."
In the meantime we can all believe in the inspirational story of a little cow returning to her wild roots by joining a wild bison herd. As one Facebook user posted:
"Next time when I think that something stops me from fulfilling my dreams, I will remember the cow who became a bison."
What do you think of this story? Tell us in the comments below.
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