UPDATE: This runaway cow's bid for freedom proved all-too short. According to the Associated Press, she died Feb. 22 after a team that included a veterinarian tried to transport her to a farm. You can read about the more uplifting aspects of her tale in the story below.
There's an island in the middle of a Polish lake, where, for a few strange weeks, one cow ruled supreme. And woe to anyone who tried to set foot on that island.
You see, this cow had fought hard — reportedly braving tranquilizer guns, iron fences and even breaking a few human bones — to get there.
But in the end, it wasn't the animal’s ornery disposition that that allowed her to stay on this "Isle of Cow." It was the incredible story of how she got there — and how it sparked outcry and compassion across the nation.
A month earlier, as reported in The Independent, the cow had been living at a nearby farm. But when workers opened her pen to transport her to the slaughterhouse, the animal made a daring and spectacular break for it.
According to Polish news station Wiadomosci, she broke free from her handlers and repeatedly rammed a metal fence until it burst open.
Then she went fugitive.
The cow made it to the edge of nearby Lake Nysa, where she was at last cornered by the farmers. But not so fast. The animal managed to break the arm of one of her handlers before plunging into the icy waters.
"I saw him [sic] diving underwater," one of the farmers told Wiadomosci.
A short time later, the cow appeared on the shores of one of the lake’s islands. And the farmer, hoping to keep her alive, left food for her there every day.
But plans were afoot to draw this surreal saga to a close. After the local fire department failed in its bid to bring the cow back by boat — she refused to let anyone get near — the farmer mulled shooting the animal.
Fortunately, by this time, the cow had found an unlikely, yet equally fierce ally. After hearing of her exploits, Polish politician and former singer Paweł Kukiz offered to buy the determined cow and let her live out her years in peace.
"I am not a vegetarian, but fortitude and the will to fight for this cow's life is invaluable," he wrote in a Facebook post. "Therefore, I decided to do everything to cause the cow to be delivered to a safe place and in the second stage, as a reward for her attitude, give her a guarantee of a long-term retirement and natural death."
Just a few days later, in another post, Kukiz announced that media attention — radio and television outlets had joined the chorus to save the cow — had convinced the farmer to spare the cow.
Kukiz received assurances, he noted, that the cow would enjoy a "peaceful pension without the prospect of butcher knife."
But an island is no place for a cow. Not even this fiery bovine empress. On Thursday, a team that included a veterinarian visited the island in an effort to bring her to a farm, where she could get proper care.
The bovine bucked. She was tranquilized. Officials say she died on the truck. From stress.
While her end brings this saga to a sorry close. This brave bovine's story may yet live on, as a rallying cry for us all: Freedom is worth fighting for.