Cows have been with us since the early Neolithic period, occupying an important role in our development as a society and culture. Let’s take a look at some of history’s more recent cows with fame to their names, including some with a more mythological bent.
This is one of the world’s most famous (and most frequently-photographed) representatives of the bovine brigade. “Charging Bull,” created by sculptor Arturo Di Modica, spends his time in Bowling Green Park, close to the heart of Manhattan’s stock exchange. He’s so well-known that he’s become a symbol of Wall Street and commerce in New York City, showing up in locations like news broadcasts, political cartoons, and vacation photos. Incidentally, Di Modica has crafted similar sculptures for installation in other regions of the world, in a nod to international commerce and trade.
2. Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow
One of history’s more maligned cows, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow is popularly blamed for causing the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 by kicking over a lantern in her stable. In fact, while the fire did start in the O’Leary’s barn, investigators never determined the true cause, and the cow story was made up to sell newspapers, trading on the anti-Irish sentiment that ran high in the city at the time. Mrs. O’Leary (and her cow) were posthumously exonerated in 1997.
3. Babe the Blue Ox
A mythical giant lumberjack needs a companion of equally impressive stature. Babe the Blue Ox accompanies Paul Bunyan, a figure seen across the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, in his adventures through the forests of the United States and Canada. Bunyan is allegedly a lumberjack of unusual skill, while Babe is extremely strong and powerful. Travelers through their stomping grounds may encounter a number of statues erected in their honor, as well as festivals celebrating Paul and Babe.
4. Charlene Mooken
This elegant Charolais cow, also known as Cincinnati Freedom, was slated for doom at an Ohio slaughterhouse in 2002 when she hopped the fence, evading pursuers for almost two weeks. After that show of spirit and dedication, she was given a stay of execution and allowed to live out her days at an animal welfare sanctuary. She lost a battle with spinal cancer in 2008, but her memory lives on, along with that of other cows who’ve escaped the slaughterhouse.
5. Yvonne the Dairy Cow
Speaking of escapees, Yvonne eluded capture for three months in Germany after she wandered out of her familiar pasture and into the woods. She even took up with a herd of deer for a while, and she went down fighting when she was finally captured; a double dose of tranquilizers was required to sedate her. She’s also living out her days in an animal sanctuary.
6. The Stars of CowParade
When it comes to public art, cows think big. CowParade is a project of international scope with scores of participating cities (and copycow projects). Each participant receives a cow sculpture that is decorated by an artist, displayed for a set period of time and then sold to benefit a charitable cause. Keepsakes in a more modest size are available for those who want a little piece of the parade for their own pastures.
Maudine Ormsby was elected Homecoming Queen at Ohio State University in 1926 despite not being enrolled as a student, thanks to irregularities in the election process. The most irregular situation about the election, though, was the identity of the winner: Maudine was a cow. And yes, she was crowned and attended the homecoming parade, although she declined to step out for the dance; instead, runnerup Rosalind Morrison Snapp hoofed it on the dance floor.
8. Hi Cow
This steer is a friendly and gracious host to anyone who pops by his pasture, but that’s not what saved him from the freezer. Instead, it’s the startling and distinctive marking on his side, which clearly reads “hi.” With a sign like that, it’s easy to argue a clear case for mercy.
9. The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon
One of the most famous cows in history sadly has no name; in “Hey Diddle Diddle,” a rhyme from Mother Goose, this cow jumps over the moon, no mean feat. Along with the other characters in this classic nursery rhyme, the cow may have no name, but she’s still embedded in the minds of millions of English-speaking children who heard all about her in their formative years.
10. Pauline Wayne
Think a White House vegetable garden is impressive? Many prior residents of the White House also maintained some livestock on the premises, like Pauline Wayne, who supplied President Taft with milk from 1910-1913 when previous First Cow Mooley Wooly wasn’t up to the task anymore. Pauline was allowed to freely roam the White House grounds and became a common sight and press favorite; notably, she was the last official White House cow, although we think that tradition should be revived!
What’s with all the cow content? One wily Care2 member, Bessie the Holstein, decided cows were underrepresented and started a petition. She officially staged a successful takeover of our offices, and has redubbed us “CareMoo.”
Image credit: Leo ViŽtor