Why this story matters:
Penka, the Bulgarian cow that wandered away from its herd near the Serbian border and ignited international controversy after it was threatened with slaughter, has been pardoned. The European Commission and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency have agreed that the animal's return to its owner in Bulgaria was not illegal.
The decision of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency to pardon the cow was first reported by John Flack, a British conservative MEP. He had urged the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament, and the Bulgarian Prime Minister to make an exception and save the animal.
"The original decision lacked all humanity and sensible judgment. I am so pleased that things have been reconsidered and a kinder approach is being taken. Sadly, animals face deplorable treatment every day all over the world, but if just one blatant wrong can be righted, then it is worthwhile having a go," said Flack.
According to British media, the story shows not only the realities of animal treatment, but also, above all, the dark side of EU bureaucracy -- the initial decision was based on strict EU regulations meant to ensure that cattle does not spread disease. However, Penka the cow could also be an indicator of change -- at this critical time for the EU, it seems that the only way it can stay intact is to become more flexible and allow room for a democratic discussion with its members and the public.
Details from the story:
- In early May, a cow named Penka wandered away from its herd in a small Bulgarian village Kopilovtsi near the Serbian border. Bulgarian Border Police officers reported that they were unable to stop the cow from galloping across to the Serbian side.
- After a few days, the cow was caught by Serbian farmers, who found the owner through the identification tag on her ear.
- The cow is pregnant and is going to calve in about 3 weeks.
- The owner could not provide documents that would confirm the animal’s good health -- the cow was stopped at the border, and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency decided that the animal will be killed, in accordance with EU law.
- The story was reported by the Bulgarian Animal Rights Protection Organization -- “Four Paws” and sparked outrage on social media (with hashtags #savepenka and #prayforpenka) and in global media, especially in Britain.
- The petition to the European Commission to save the animal was signed by over 30,000 people. The initiative was also supported by former Beatle Paul McCartney.
- The story gained even more attention in light of Bulgaria’s EU presidency.