BERLIN // Yvonne, the runaway cow who refused to be turned into mincemeat and became an international star by outwitting her pursuers for almost 100 days, has finally been captured and reunited with her son, Friesi, in an animal sanctuary that has promised to let her live out her days in peace and luxury.
"We've finally got her, thank God," said Britta Freitag, a spokeswoman for Gut Aiderbichl, a charity for neglected animals.
"She's calmed down and is with her son Friesi in the stable, they've got their heads close together, it's quite delightful to see."
The six-year-old cow was being fattened up for the abattoir when she burst out of her enclosure at a farm in the village of Aschau, Bavaria, in May. Her adventures got blow-by-blow media coverage in Germany and abroad and gained her a global community of fans.
Hindu leaders joined calls for her to be rescued, and a local band has composed a folk song, Yvonne You Wild Cow, which is expected to become a hit at the Munich Oktoberfest this month.
She escaped expert trackers armed with tranquilliser guns, dodged a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking camera and ignored the attentions of a handsome ox brought in to lure her out of her hiding place in a forest some 15 kilometres from her farm. Every attempt to catch her made her cleverer.
She learnt to run away whenever she heard telltale sounds such a walkie-talkies and car doors, and evened seemed to know the shifts of her trackers, staying away when they had finished their lunch.
Frustrated and worn down by their lack of success, her pursuers gave up the hunt last weekend, and the local authority revoked its permission to shoot her, ruling that she didn't pose a traffic hazard while she roamed around the Bavarian woods.
In the end, loneliness seems to have got the better of Yvonne. A local farmer spotted her staring wistfully at his cattle from the edge of a field near the village of Eigelsberg, and remembered that Germany's best-selling newspaper, Bild, had offered €10,000 (Dh52,200) for her safe capture.
Helped by his 13-year-old daughter, the farmer, named only as Konrad G, gingerly opened the gate to the meadow and crept up behind her. "I walked very slowly and gradually drove her into the field," he told Bild. "You could tell the stress she had been under. She was very nervous."
All this happened on Tuesday, unknown to the German public. Animal experts from Gut Aiderbichl arrived yesterday to tranquillise her and transport her to their sanctuary in Deggendorf, Bavaria. It was not an easy task.
"She put up quite a bit of resistance at first because she was afraid she was being hauled off to the slaughterhouse, and we couldn't explain to her where she was going," Ms Freitag said. A specialist armed with a blowpipe fired a tranquilliser dart, but it didn't work at first because her adrenalin levels were so high, and he had to up the dosage.
She was finally put to sleep and laden onto a trailer for the two-hour ride to her new home.
Gut Aiderbichl, which runs a number of sanctuaries accommodating all kinds of animals including 400 cattle, had purchased Yvonne from her former owner, and had been leading the hunt for her in a bid to prevent her being shot dead. It also managed to track down her son, Friesi, and her sister Waltraud, who will live with her now.
Her fans will be relieved to hear that a bright future awaits her.
"Our animals live in the best conditions you can imagine. They get all kinds of delicacies to eat, can spend all day on large meadows and can even spend the night outside in the summer, and they live with other cattle," said Ms Freitag. "We try to do all we can to give our animals the best life possible."