Rescuers couldn’t work out why the cow was crying all night until they realized that she was a mommy. The grieving parent had been calling out for her calf since their separation, and he had finally been located. Now, as the transport trailer opened, mommy became instantly alert.
In 2009 a video was uploaded to YouTube showing the reunion of a cow and her calf. The footage was as heartwarming as it was heartbreaking, but the story had actually begun a little before that. Yes, it all started with the rescue of a cow who would later be known as Karma.
Poor Karma hadn’t experienced a good life. To be more specific, she was suffering neglect at the hands of her then-owner. Indeed, when she was found on a farm in California, it was discovered that she’d been denied even the most basic of needs. Her owners had, in fact, let her become malnourished and dehydrated.
Not only that, but Karma was also left without any shelter from the elements. Fortunately, she was saved from her miserable existence by a rescue group called the Gentle Barn Sanctuary (GBS). The California-based organization has been caring for abused animals since 1999.
GBS explains its mission on its official website with the following statement: “The Gentle Barn rescues animals from severe abuse and neglect who are too old, sick, lame or scared to be adopted into homes.” What’s more, it isn’t just cows like Karma that it rescues, either.
The statement continues, “We are sanctuary to horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, llamas, peacocks, emus, cats and dogs.” The group says that it aims to rehabilitate the creatures and that as a result the “animals help us give hope and inspiration to children with the same stories.”
GBS hoped that Karma would be one of those animals, but rescuers noticed that something was wrong with her. Even after she had been rescued and given everything that she could possibly need, Karma was still distressed. And her new carers had no idea what could be wrong with her.
GBS’s founder, Ellie Laks, described the situation on the group’s official website in January 2015. “[Karma] cried all through the first night,” she wrote. “At first we thought she was just nervous about being at a strange new place. We thought that she would eventually settle down.”
Karma remained upset and continued crying mournfully, however. Her new caretakers debated that she might be pining for the friends GBS couldn’t save. They also wondered whether it was the unfamiliar scenery that was upsetting her. Eventually, though, it was Laks who discovered the real source of Karma’s torment.
“We didn’t get much sleep,” she recalled. “And finally at six in the morning, I went down to see what was wrong. I said, ‘What’s wrong girl? You are safe here, why do you keep crying?’ Then, I noticed it. There was milk dripping from her udders.”
Despite the impression that a lot of people may have, cows are required to give birth before they lactate. The presence of Karma’s milk, then, meant that she was a mother. So, not only had she been separated from her calf, but her crying also meant this must have happened recently.
Leks told her partner, Jay Weiner, about the discovery, and he wasted no time contacting Karma’s previous owner. “The man explained to us that the baby had already been sold for someone to eat,” Leks wrote. However, lady luck stepped in to lend a helping hand.
The man’s truck had broken down in transit, so Karma’s baby had yet to reach her destination. Weiner was determined to save the calf, and he took GBS’s trailer out to meet the man. In fact, he even made a deal with the “backyard butcher,” as they called him.
“Jay told the man that he was going to fix the truck, and the man was going to hand over the baby calf,” Leks recounted. “The man just laughed and didn’t believe Jay could fix the truck, so they shook hands.”
“The truck was on a hill and stuck on its gears,” Leks recounted. “Jay merely towed the truck a few inches up the hill, the gears unlocked, and the truck was fixed. The man had no choice but to hand over Karma’s baby and Jay drove him home to the Gentle Barn.”
When Weiner returned to Karma’s paddock with the calf in tow, the now-excited mom cried out for her baby. But as the poor calf made his way to his mother, he nearly collapsed from hunger and exhaustion. Thankfully, however, his rescuers were at his side and helped him up off the ground.
Even with his carers’ help, though, the calf struggled to reach his crying mother, and he collapsed again before the GBS team managed to get him into Karma’s pen. However, once he was there, the calf managed to drink the nourishing milk that he so desperately needed to survive. The sanctuary’s staff subsequently called him Mr. Rojas.
Then, eight months after she was reunited with her missing baby, Karma had another surprise for GBS. “That night… I went for my usual ritual of tucking the animals into bed for the night,” Leks wrote. “Karma turned around, and there was a foot sticking out of her!”
After a successful birth, GBS called the baby Surprise. And happily, in January of 2015 he was reported as healthy, well and even larger than his mommy! In fact, the group said that Karma had taken to motherhood incredibly well and that consequently the family has a bright future.
“[Karma] is an excellent mom,” Leks explained. “Now [the family’s] every need will be taken care of… We dream of a world where animals can live in families with their mates and be respected, and protected.” Well, saving Karma’s family is one more step towards that goal.