The ‘lonely’ runaway cow is captured after straying on to a farmer’s land to befriend his herd. She escaped shortly before being sent to slaughter after years of loyal service as dairy cow. Many Germans captivated by the story, siding with Yvonne.
- guardian.co.uk, Friday 2 September 2011 14.18 BST
She was wooed by a bull with a “deep baritone moo”, teased with the promise of being reunited her son, and telepathically contacted by a Swiss animal whisperer, but Yvonne the cow was finally brought back to captivity by much more prosaic means: an anaesthetic shot.
The Scarlet Pimpernel of the bovine world grabbed the German imagination when she escaped from her Bavarian farm after apparently sensing that she was about to be slaughtered in May. With a price of €10,000 on her head, she managed three months on the run before a farmer reported seeing her on his land.
Konrad Gutmann, 46, claimed the €10,000 reward offered by the German tabloid Bild after the seemingly lonely animal wandered into his meadows to befriend his cows. “It was just luck really. I was out taking a tour of my electric fence with my daughter Melanie at about 6pm when I saw Yvonne on the other side staring at the young cows. She seemed lonely,” Gutmann told the Daily Mail. “She went back into the woods when she saw us. I got up behind her and my daughter gathered the cows in one area of the field.” The cow was finally herded into the field. “She was very nervous,’ added the farmer. “You could see the stress of the past days and weeks had taken its toll on her.”
The Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary, which now owns Yvonne after buying her for €600 to prevent her slaughter, confirmed that the cow had been moved to her new home. They were able to identify the animal by the tag on her ear, they said.
In keeping with the bullish nature that has preserved her freedom until now, Yvonne did not go quietly. Pictures reveal she put up a significant fight before being tranquillised on Friday morning and transported to the sanctuary at Deggendorf.
It is a dramatic end to a story that has gripped Germany for much of the summer, with one newspaper saying the cow had become “a kind of freedom fighter for the animal-loving German republic”.
The six-year-old brown dairy managed to breach an electric fence to escape her field in the village of Zangberg, 50 miles north-east of Munich, on 24 May. She sought sanctuary in a nearby forest, surviving among the fir trees.
After a brush with the police – when she was almost involved in a collision after wandering on to a road – the hunt to find the errant cow intensified. Local hunters were given carte blanche to shoot Yvonne on sight to prevent a traffic accident, an order that was rescinded after pressure from animal rights protesters.
Friends of Yvonne tried a range of desperate means to ensnare the cow. The founder of the Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary, Michael Aufhauser, enlisted the help of Ernst, a virile bull with “a deep baritone moo” to lure her home. “He is the George Clooney of bulls,” said Aufhauser.
But with Yvonne seemingly blind to Ernst’s charms, an animal psychic was called in to communicate with Yvonne from afar. Franziska Matti, an animal communication expert from Berne in Switzerland, said she had managed to contact Yvonne using telepathy. “I spoke to her and she said that she was fine but didn’t feel ready to come out of hiding,” said Matti last month. “She said she knew that Ernst had been waiting for her but that she was scared. She said she thought that humans would lock her up and she would no longer be free.”
Aufhauser had hoped that Yvonne’s two-year-old son, Friesi, who was previously believed dead but turned up alive at a local farm, might persuade her to return to civilisation. That also proved futile, but Yvonne will now be reunited with Friesi and her sister Waltraud in her new pasture at Gut Aiderbichl. The sanctuary promises that Yvonne will remain comfortable and undisturbed, if captive, for the remainder of her days.
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