Yvonne the Cow to Become Hollywood Star

Film company wants to make an animated movie about her adventures.

ByDavid Crossland, SPIEGEL
December 21, 2011, 8:52 AM

Dec. 24, 2011— -- It was only a matter of time before Hollywood milked the story of Yvonne the runaway cow, who became a celebrity for escaping the abattoir this year. A film company wants to make an animated movie about her adventures, say officials at the wildlife sanctuary where she is living a life of luxury.

This story has everything. It's a tear-jerking biopic, and an action thriller with chase scenes that could almost rival Steve McQueen's motorbike ride in "The Great Escape." Only this time the star is a cow.

Yvonne made international headlines this year by escaping slaughter and eluding her pursuers for three months. Now the adventures of this unusually temperamental cow, who outwitted expert trackers equipped with a helicopter and heat-seeking equipment, are to be turned into an animated film, the Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary, where she is currently living in the lap of bovine luxury, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

"An international company based in Hollywood has approached us. They want to make an animated film about her adventures for 2013," said Britta Freitag, a spokeswoman for the charity that offers a home to neglected animals including 400 cows.

"We would have never thought of making a film about her. We were only ever interested in her welfare as a cow," Freitag added.

But Yvonne's story is perfect blockbuster material. The pain of separation from her children, the threat of death, the yearning for a life of freedom in the wild, the dramatic escape, the hunt, the capture, being reunited with her family, and of course the happy ever after ending to her story.

Here's a potted version of Yvonne's script that would make any movie mogul's mouth water. Born in 2005, she spent an unhappy life on an Austrian farm where she couldn't get used to the boring existence of a cow. She made her feelings known through obstreperous bucking and kicking, and was often tethered to a post as a result.

Fate struck early this year when she was torn away from her calves Friesi and Orky and sold to a Bavarian farmer who planned to fatten her up for slaughter.

Braveheart Meets Bambi

What follows merges elements of "Rambo," "Braveheart," "The Great Escape," "Robin Hood" and "Bambi," minus the unhappy endings.

On May 24, she decided she had had enough and made a break for freedom, smashing through the 8,000 volt electric fence of the farm near Aschau, Bavaria. Galloping down a road, she almost collided with a police car, prompting authorities to give permission for her to be killed because she was a hazard to traffic.

But by this time Yvonne was fast gaining friends and fans on Facebook and in the media, and public protests led police to suspend the kill order. In the dramatic weeks that followed, her resourcefulness and intelligence astounded the police, hunters and animal-rights activists chasing her.

She sought shelter in a forest some 16 kilometers (around 10 miles) from Aschau and learned to recognize the sounds and even the work schedules of her pursuers. The slamming of a car door, or the whooshing of helicopter rotor blades would send her running for cover.

What Yvonne didn't realize was that her trackers had been hired by Gut Aiderbichl to rescue her and take her to a cow heaven on earth -- juicy fields for her to roam in peace, free from the threat of being turned into steak.

Yvonne even ignored the attentions of a black ox called Ernst, so good-looking that he was dubbed a "George Clooney among cattle." He was brought to the forest to lure her out, and his sonorous baritone echoed around the trees, but she stayed away.

As the weeks passed, she grew wilder and her hide became more furry. One tracker said she was reverting to a wild beast, and relying on instincts that had evolved in cattle over millions of years to find food and water.

Happy Ending

She was finally caught on Sept. 2 by a local farmer who lured her into a field. She put up a heroic fight but was tranquilized and taken to a Gut Aiderbichl site in Deggendorf, Bavaria.

Her new hosts say they will have gone to great lengths to let her live out her days in comfort, with top-quality food and her very own paddock. To make the story perfect, she has even been reunited with her family.

"She is doing very well," said Freitag. "We have brought in her second son, Orky, to Deggendorf. He will join her and her other son Friesi."

But that bittersweet yearning for the wild will always remain in her, it seems. "She is very lively and temperamental, and bucks around a lot," says Freitag. "But she has shown no signs of wanting to escape again."

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