Seymour is different from most bovines at Farm Sanctuary. Why? He is a water buffalo! Even so, he fits right in among his own little herd of domesticated cattle: His best friend, a cow named Pepper, and her yearling calf, Truffles. Seymour and Pepper have lived together for most of their lives; however, there were fundamental differences in their upbringing. Their guardian treasured Seymour as a pet but used his friend Pepper to breed calves for slaughter. In the end, however, this unconventional friendship wound up saving Seymour, his lifelong friend, and her beloved child.

The trio had lived on a property belonging to their guardian’s mother; upon her impending move, however, they needed somewhere else to go. Oftentimes, people in such situations opt to send their animals to slaughter. But Seymour’s guardian, who had saved his life once before, could not think of once again subjecting him to this fate.

About ten years before, Seymour lived on a water buffalo dairy. As with cattle dairies, which breed for the sake of selling their cows’ milk, people also breed water buffalo for their milk and their meat. “Buffalo mozzarella,” for example, is quite popular in niche markets that tout the cheese as a healthier, higher-quality alternative to traditional dairy products. Water buffalo used for dairy face similar treatment as cows, goats, sheep, or any animal forced into dairy production. A hard truth of any dairy industry is that most males go unwanted and discarded since they cannot produce milk to profit the industry. Most dairies choose to sell them at auction and send these calves to slaughter. Seymour could have been someone’s meal.

Instead, his guardian gave Seymour a life free from harm. When he could no longer guarantee this quality of life, he searched for someone else who could. We agreed to care for Seymour in the interim, as we searched for the perfect permanent home—ideally, one where this water buffalo could access plenty of water, and with a guardian equipped to handle his unique care needs.

His guardian, overjoyed, then asked something that surprised us: might we take Seymour’s friends, as well? Knowing how bonded he and Pepper are—and how close she is to her own calf—he thought it best to keep them all together. We agreed—thankful for his change of heart and recognition that his cows, like Seymour, also deserve to live and thrive.

The trio now shares an enclave of our new cattle barn—located on our expanded woodlands campus. Providing care for a water buffalo is still new to us, but our caregiving staff has eagerly risen to the occasion. We love watching Seymour and his cow friends eat, rest, and explore together. We feel so thankful that Seymour can keep his tribe, and that Pepper can finally keep her child.

We found a permanent home for Seymour at a sanctuary in Florida, arranged through our Farm Animal Adoption Network. Once the weather gets a little cooler, we’ll be bringing this beautiful family there. Seymour will have lots of room to run around, and plenty of pond space and water to soak up! We are so excited for Seymour, Pepper, and Truffles as they embark on their new life together.

Placing farm animals is an important part of our lifesaving work, as it allows us to save more farm animals—freeing up space at our sanctuaries to take in more animals in need, and placing more animals into loving homes to ensure their best lives possible. If you have space and resources to help farm animals in need, click here to learn more and fill out an application.

Help us bring visibility to farm animals like Seymour, whose suffering typically goes unseen. With just five to seven thousand water buffalo in the United States—compared to more than 94 million domesticated cattle nationwide—few people see or know very much about them. But despite these population gaps and the biological and behavioral differences between water buffalo and cows, their experiences and fates are largely the same. By sharing Seymour’s story, we can show how they— like anyone—deserve our care, protection, and respect. We love taking care of Seymour and his friends, and cannot wait to see what his beautiful new life has in store!