x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Calculating cattle

For the cow that captured the hearts of a nation, a happy ending of sorts. But let's not read too much into the cunning saga of how one heifer outsmarted many humans.

If this cow had wings or a cape, there would never have been any question about its super abilities. As it happened, Germans only now realise that there is something special about the bovine known affectionately as Yvonne, which has since captured the hearts of a nation.

Better late than steaks, some might say.

On the run since May, Yvonne the celebrity cow was spared from the butcher's block after breaking free from a Bavarian farm. In the dragnet that followed, hunters sent out heat-seeking helicopters and professional trackers who had, for a time at least, shoot-on-sight permission. There was even a peculiar sort of honey trap, with a "handsome" bull sent to pasture to play on Yvonne's softer sentiments.

In fact, the case of the cow that eluded the best efforts of its pursuers has raised questions about the intellect lurking behind those bovine eyes. Did Yvonne really learn to outmanoeuvre humans? Was the beast the master of this cat and mouse game? Then again, how smart are the humans who would send a helicopter out after a cow?

In the end, Yvonne was undone by loneliness, and lured into a corral with others of her kind. Now destined for a livestock sanctuary, there is a happy ending of sorts. But does this show that, deep down, cows have a fire in their four bellies for freedom just like humans? Perhaps we would rather not know.