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.
Image credit: Leo Viëtor
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