A Domestic Cow Chose Freedom With a Wild Bison Family


Somewhere near Poland’s Bialowieza Forest, a cow wanders free amongst the wild bison. Though centuries of breeding have attempted to domesticate her impulse to run with her chosen herd, she will not willingly return to pasture.

The BBC reports that this shero was first spotted by ornithologist Adam Zbyryt, who was out minding his business and staring at some birds. But then he noticed amongst a group of 50 bison that one animal that seemed out of place:

He made the news in November when he told TVN24: “it’s not unusual to see bison near the Bialowieza Forest, but one animal caught my eye. It was a completely different light-brown shade from the rest of the herd. Bison are chestnut or dark brown”.

After peeping through his binoculars, Zbybrt recognized the interloper as a French breed of bovine called a Limousin cow, which are popular in Poland. A fun story, and one it was assumed would end when winter set in and the cow realized the price of freedom was cold hooves. Not so.

Biologist Rafal Kowalczyk saw her again just this week, still looking in fine fettle and still trying to fit in with the bison. Cow behavior is a bit different than bisons according to Kowalczyk, who said that they “act like one organism and she stands out.” However, her proximity to the group likely saved her from predators like wolves.

It’s hard to picture a happy ending for the cow, who may pose a danger to the herd if she successfully mates with one of their members. Bialowieza bison are a vulnerable population, so mixing up their genetics with domestic cows is a bad idea for bison longevity.

The cow is currently too young to breed, but the threat of her recapture looms. For now, she lives in local legend at the cow who “chose freedom,’ despite the dangers in her unconventional path. We salute your conviction, free cow. May you find what you’re looking for.

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