Wild bison herd adopts escaped cow in Poland

Reddish brown cow stands out but fits in

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A cow escaped slaughter to run free with a wild bison herd this winter in Poland.

A cow in Poland escaped a farm and joined a wild herd of bison this winter, The Associated Press reported.

The reddish brown cow visually stands out among the larger dark brown animals. But bison expert Rafal Kowalczyk told the AP that she seems to be doing well with her new companions, even though she is sometimes spotted on the margins of the herd.

He said a cow living with bison is exceptional, the AP reported.

While cohabitation seems to be working so far, it could be dangerous for both species, according to Kowalczyk, the director of Mammal Research Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

If the cow becomes pregnant by a male bison, she could have fatal complications deliverying the larger-than-normal hybrid calf, the AP reported. Hybrid offspring would also threaten the gene pool of Poland's already endangered bison population.

Kowalczyk told the AP the best thing for both species would be to remove the cow from the herd by summer.

“One question is whether when winter ends the cow will follow the bison into the forest, which is not the habitat that this cow knows,” Kowalczyk told the AP. “The more time she spends in the herd, the riskier it will be.”

Despite the potential risks, the story of the cow escaping slaughter to run with the bison has been popular on Kowalczyk's Facebook page.

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