Chandini was among the thousands of animals who are transported into New York City every year to be sold at its many live markets. For all but a lucky few, this journey is the final one, ending with a brutal, premature death. For Chandini, it turned out to be the beginning of a whole new life.
The Big Apple contains more than 100 live markets, where customers can select animals to be slaughtered on-site. These facilities commonly deal in castoffs from factory farms or auction barns, as well as animals obtained directly from dealers who specialize in the live-market trade. Live markets are notorious for keeping animals in miserable and terrifying conditions. In many cases, the animals still waiting to be sold can hear, smell, and even see their companions being killed and butchered. This was the brutal end designated for Chandini.
But that end did not come to pass. Instead, a group of Hindus rescued Chandini to serve in a Gow Daan ceremony, in which a cow is donated to a guru, pundit, or Brahmin. Traditionally, the recipient keeps and cares for the cow, but that practice isn’t feasible in Brooklyn. Thus, the priest who was to receive Chandini began searching for a permanent home for the young cow. His quest led him to contact the operator of a New Jersey cow sanctuary, who in turn contacted animal rescuer and friend of Farm Sanctuary Mike Stura. Stura got in touch with us, and as he traveled to Brooklyn to pick up Chandini, we readied a place for her at our New York Shelter.
Arriving as the Gow Daan ceremony concluded, Stura found Chandini bedecked in a yellow sari and decorative paint. “There was singing and music, and then [the participants] all thanked me for helping her, and there was much hugging and some crying,” he says. “I assured them that she would be well taken care of.”
Initially that care has included treating Chandini for a fungal infection and other health issues. Though she is the size of a calf, her teeth indicate that she is older than one. She is clearly much smaller than a cow of her age and breed should be, suggesting that she suffered malnourishment at the production facility where she was raised.
Despite her ailments, this cute girl is already revealing her spunky personality. She is intensely curious and very sweet, with a hint of mischief. She loves to watch the shelter staff working in her barn and enjoys the regular visits paid by her caregivers. As soon as a treatment is finished, Chandini playfully kicks out her legs, an antic that delights her caregivers — and keeps them on their toes. We can tell Chandini will have a total blast once she’s well enough to join her fellow cattle in the herd.