The fence at Ken Meyer Meats abattoir in Cincinnati is six feet high. But for Bessie the Cow – faced with her imminent demise – it proved to be no more than a graze in the park.
A week after Bessie leapt the fence to escape the clutches of the slaughterman, the Ohio city is now gripped by stories about the runaway ruminant. The 1,200lb Charolais was last spotted entering a park in the Clifton district of the city by a local television network's helicopter "CowCam".
"The problem is, this is a free-range cow that isn't going to come to any human,'' said Harold Dates, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). "When you weigh 1,200 pounds, you can pretty much go anywhere you want."
The cow – variously dubbed Bessie, Moosama bin Laden and Heidi by locals – has gained celebrity status in much the same way as Butch and Sundance, the two pigs that escaped from an abattoir in Britain.
There will no such horrible fate for Bessie. If, or when, the seven-year-old cow is captured, Cincinnati's mayor, Charlie Luken, has said he will grant her the key to the city. A local bank says it wants to use Bessie in its adverts for a "Holy Cow" home equity loan advertisement campaign and a fast-food chicken restaurant that features a cow in its adverts to urge people not to eat red meat, is offering 100 free chicken sandwiches to whoever catches the cavorting cow.