Chico the cow

Video Transcript

Ellie Laks Weiner (The Gentle Barn):
Chico and five other cows broke out of the slaughterhouse. They crashed through three fences. They’re trying to find somewhere to go and someone to help them. Chico is holding the authorities behind a tree to allow time for the brothers to keep running! But the authorities come and they round them up with their cars and they’re able to just kind of pin them against fences and get them back in their trailers and back to the slaughterhouse. But then there was a small part of the community that was so passionately watching the escape so upset that the cows were returned to the slaughterhouse. The donations rolled in to liberate Chico and the other cows.

Chico and other cows crashed through fences

Rocky:
Over the next three days, there was a frantic search to find a sanctuary that could rescue Chico and his brothers from the slaughterhouse.

Ellie:
And on day four, the meatpacking owner did not wanna wait anymore and announce he’s gonna kill them in the next morning.

Rocky:
With no time to spare, Elliot and her husband Jay, flew cross country from LA to St. Louis to meet Chico and his brothers and save them.

A guy hugging Chico, the cow

Ellie:
I stood at the fence and Chico came 150 feet all the way from where he was till he was standing right in front of me, and him and I locked eyes as tears streamed down my face at how much intelligence Chico had, how amazingly powerful and strong yet gentle he is. And I fell in love with him immediately.

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Rocky:
Ellie used the money to community had raised to buy Chico and his brother’s freedom, and set up a sanctuary where they’d be able to live.

Ellie:
When we backed the trailer up, opened the door and the cows jumped out to this beautiful, big spacious property, you literally could see their relief. They were running, their faces softened, they were eating grass, and they looked like, okay, we could do this.

Rocky:
And once Chico started to trust people, people started flocking to Chico.

Ellie:
People don’t realize that cows can give just as much love as house pets, if not more. Come on Chico, come on Ru! Chico is exactly a puppy now. When we call his name, he comes running for cookies. His love and affection is so reciprocal. It’s not just us petting him, he licks us. It’s not us just hugging him, he hugs us back with his neck. But it wasn’t overnight that Chico just became a puppy and he had to learn to trust people. And that was a three month process where I sat out in the pasture every single day. I sang to them, I read out loud to them, I brought them cookies and eventually I won their trust. And people can’t believe it when they meet him; that here he is from inside a slaughterhouse, and yet he’s trusting, he’s forgiving, He’s loving… It really gives people an idea of who these animals are that we’re eating.

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Rocky:
But Chico’s incredible story isn’t just about him and his brothers surviving the slaughterhouse. It’s also about how he and other cows are able to help heal people.

Chico's new mom hugging him

Ellie:
Chico now helps us host cow hug therapy sessions, where people who are struggling in their own lives can come out and seek solace and comfort from him. He lays down on the ground. They put their faces on him, they close their eyes, they connect to his heartbeat and his breathing and people find healing in his arms, if you will. We’ve been doing cow hug therapy since the inception of the general barn 22 years ago, but during COVID is when individuals were really in crisis. And so we opened up individual hour long sessions where people come and have a really good hug, get unconditional love and connect back to themselves… Get back to the feeling that if cow’s gonna escape from the slaughterhouse and end up at a sanctuary called general barn, then they can get through their stories and their trauma as well.

Chico chewing food

Rocky:
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