When faced with scary or unknown situations, animals like cows have a tendency to flee in order to preserve their own safety. Usually farmers keep their cattle in line by keeping them in groups, or herding them together. However, that doesn’t always work to ease their frazzled nerves.
When Bonnie the cow was forced to leave the home she was raised in, she took a chance and ran far away, into the woods, presumably never to be seen by her human owners again. No human was fast enough to catch her. However, another pack of animals was…
Bonnie the baby cow lived a relatively normal life until she was four months old. She was born in upstate New York and spent her days joined at the hip with her mother. But one day, something awful happened: the owner of the farm died, and Bonnie’s future became very uncertain.
Bonnie’s life changed over night. She and the other cows who lived on the farm were scheduled to be rounded up and sold. To make matters worse, Bonnie and her mother would be separated.
When the time finally came for Bonnie to be loaded into a truck that would take her away from the farm, she did something no one expected: she made a break for it! Even though she was small, Bonnie boldly raced away from the truck and fled to the nearby forest.
Although Bonnie’s farm family searched high and low, they couldn’t find her. Months passed and there was still no sign of her. Among the people who lived near the farm, the story of Bonnie, the cow who lived in the woods, became almost local lore.
At first, people believed that the little calf was dead, but then the sightings started. Some people saw Bonnie walking through their backyards. She also appeared in footage taken by wildlife cameras set up in the area.
“Venturing out of the safety of the forest only for occasional sightings, Bonnie quickly became a local celebrity, dividing the 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,” reported one local.
Even Bonnie’s “enemies” knew that the cow didn’t stand much of a chance of surviving in the three feet of snow that covered the forest. But no matter how hard they looked, Bonnie continued to evade them.
No one could understand how Bonnie was managing to stay alive until the day a trail camera snapped a serendipitous and quite surprising image: It was Bonnie, surrounded by a group of deer!
While Bonnie may have been separated from her birth mother, she wasn’t hurting for family in the least. A group of wild deer had apparently found the sweet calf and made her part of their family!
“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,” said a representative from a local animal shelter.
While Bonnie clearly made a family all her own in the forest, no matter how happy she might have been in the moment, she was going to need human attention if she would ever grow up into a happy cow.
Luckily, one local woman was up to the task. Her name was Becky, and every day during the long winter she would bring food, water, and fresh bedding out to Bonnie in the woods.
Eventually, she managed to earn the cow’s trust, and at that point, Becky reached out to the people at the Farm Sanctuary, who had extensive experience with cows like Bonnie, in hopes they would be able to help out her bovine buddy.
The folks at Farm Sanctuary knew that it might be challenging to convince Bonnie to leave the woods, but they weren’t ready for just how hard it would be! She’d spent eight months in the woods, and while life was rough, it was the one she was used to and she was loath to give it up.
It took three different attempts before the team retrieved Bonnie. “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,” said a representative of the sanctuary. “Bonnie was very wary of our presence, however; she only let Becky touch her, and would run away if anyone else got too close.”
Finally, the sanctuary was able to coax Bonnie to them with the use of a tempting array of snacks… and a mild sedative. When she woke up in her new home she was initially confused, but pretty quickly she started to realize just how much her new life was going to be.
While she might have missed her friends in the woods, Bonnie didn’t waste any time at all befriending some of the other animals who lived alongside her at the animal sanctuary.
The people at the sanctuary couldn’t be happier with how things worked out. “Bonnie beat the odds,” they said. “Here, our resilient new friend will spend her life in peace, surrounded by caring humans and a loving herd of her fellow rescued cattle.”
When Becky started going outside to feed the cow who lived in the woods, many people thought she was crazy. But she ignored them and continued to do what she knew in her heart was the right thing.
While Bonnie’s story is an unusual one, it teaches a lot of valuable lessons! Family doesn’t always look the way you expect it to look, and sometimes the help we need the most is the help we are the least inclined to embrace.
What a sweet story! It’s amazing to think that Bonnie lasted so long out there in the woods. Clearly, her adopted deer family had something to do with that.
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