Just like their namesake Stevie Wonder/Paul McCartney song “Ebony and Ivory,” this bovine mother and son will now remain “side by side” for life. This resilient pair came to Farm Sanctuary for short-term care in October 2019, before moving to their forever home at VINE Sanctuary in Vermont.
These two were given their names by their rescuers, who found the loose cows a few weeks prior. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t think much of situations like this; animals often wander their road after escaping nearby farms. What surprised them, though, was seeing these newcomers on their land; Ebony and Ivory were so intent on survival that they had jumped the couple’s fence and sought refuge with their herd!
This couple keeps their animals as companions, and the runaways must have sensed that this home was safe. Sadly, people had tried to hurt them on their journey to freedom. Just before the couple first saw the pair, they heard nearby gunshots and another cow’s cries. They later learned that local residents had targeted Ebony, Ivory, and a friend—defying previous requests that they stay off the rescuers’ land. Why someone would target these docile, friendly animals is anyone’s guess. According to the rescuers, some people cite safety concerns as reason for shooting “nuisance” animals along the road. They might also do so for entertainment, or to spite caring people like this couple.
Ebony and Ivory escaped unscathed; but their friend didn’t make it. That’s when Ebony took a leap of faith—right over their soon-to-be rescuers’ fence—and Ivory followed. For the first time in months, they could finally stop running.
Meanwhile, the couple worried for the bovines’ wellbeing. Worst case scenario, their owner might want them back; in that case, Ebony and Ivory would likely face slaughter. But even if they didn’t have to return the bovines, the couple knew that they couldn’t keep Ebony and Ivory long-term; they were already low on barn space, and at capacity caring for their herd.
Luckily, no farmer claimed them, and the authorities told the couple they could handle them as they wished. The rescuers did everything they could to gain their trust—especially with Ebony, the more skittish of the two. With patience (and a steady supply of treats), Ebony gradually grew more comfortable with them. They also did their best to keep the pair in their sight—and away from neighboring hunting grounds—as they searched for a place that could take them on.
They eventually found Farm Sanctuary, and we connected with VINE—a member of our Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN). These relationships with other sanctuaries and individuals willing to give loving homes to farm animals are crucial to our lifesaving work: with so many animals in danger, and limited space and resources to go around, we have to work together to save as many as we can. For Ebony and Ivory, this meant a short stay at Farm Sanctuary for interim care before heading off to their new forever home.
Rescuing farm animals—especially those with a history of trauma—is not always as easy as it seems. Ebony was alert and edgy the whole time she stayed with us—even leading our team on a two-hour chase as, wary of our intentions, she hopped yet another fence—this time, our own. With her little boy waiting back in the barn, and the gentle moos of our special needs herd to steady her, we were finally able to lead her back and secure her in their pen—hoping that a meal and the company of friends might help her settle down and feel more at ease.
Having Ivory back in her sight helped. We worried, though, how she might respond when we brought him to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital for routine neutering. We conduct this procedure for two main reasons: First, we don’t support breeding at our sanctuaries; farm animals are not ours to use for entertainment or as objects of affection—and we have to dedicate our limited resources to saving those who need us most. Second, castration can also decrease hormone-related aggression as these boys mature.
A few days later, and with a clean bill of health, we reunited mother and son and brought them up to VINE. They have since joined a herd and “live together in perfect harmony.” As per their rescuers’ wishes, these individuals who fought so hard to stay alive will be safe, loved, and taken care of for life. Ebony, Ivory, and all farm animals value life and deserve to live—and their freedom is music to our ears.