Emily the cow was on her way to a slaughterhouse in the winter of 1995, when she decided she would rather be free. In a daring escape she leaped over a five-foot fence and disappeared into the woods.


    The three-year-old, 1,600-pound Holstein heifer evaded capture for 40 days and 40 nights, foraging for food in the woods around the town and hobnobbing with a herd of deer. As she cleverly evaded capture, townspeople took up her cause, leaving her hay and shielding her from a return to the slaughterhouse.

    Inspired by Emily’s spirit, animal lovers Meg and Lewis Randa coaxed her into a trailer with a bucket of feed, bought her from the slaughterhouse and retired her to a life as a charismatic spokescow, espousing a meat-free diet for humans at The Life Experience School at The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts.

    Her huge eyes and friendly disposition inspired all who met her. People traveled to Sherborn and pledged in her presence to stop eating meat. She was the bovine-of-honor at several human weddings in the Abbey barn.

    Emily’s story was featured on national television and in countless newspaper and magazine articles—People magazine called her a “bovine pimpernel…sought everywhere but never captured.” She inspired a children’s book.

    Emily was buried in 2005. A statue inscribed as the “Sacred Cow Animal Rights Memorial,” was dedicated in her honor on Earth Day.

    The Peace Abbey is closed, but her statue can be seen from the public road.

    Peace Abbey
    2 N. Main St., Sherborn, MA
    In town, just north of the only stop sign on Hwy 27. Watch for the Gandhi statue and Peace Abbey driveway.

If you are in the area, it’s worth a detour.