Monday, October 17, 2016

RIP the only wild cow in Singapore

Singapore's favourite, and only, wild cow died this week. The Coney Island Cow lived for years on a small island north-eastern park. Its origins were as mysterious as its death was sad. Nameless and elusive, no-one really knows how the lonely bull wound up on Coney Island. "The animal may have wandered in. It was only noticed after dam crossings were built," said Singapore's National Parks Board (NParks), responsible for managing the city state's greenery.

"But as no-one has reported a lost cow, its presence on the island remains a mystery." The 133-hectare island was once owned by the Haw Par brothers, the wealthy entrepreneurs behind Tiger Balm who have left such a sizeable footprint on Singapore's modern history. They sold it in the 1950s to an Indian businessman who wanted to turn remodel it after the popular New York amusement destination.

But nothing materialised despite a name change, and the land was slated for government redevelopment. One year ago, the island became Singapore's newest national park, being opened up to tourists for hiking and cycling, on a short network of paths. It was then everyone became aware that the island already belonged to one magnificent beast: The Cow. With its solitary stoic presence, it quickly became a local legend among Singaporeans, most of whom live in the city or suburbs and have little interaction with livestock.

No trip to Coney Island was complete without trying to track down the cow, heeding the strict warning signs about not feeding it, provoking it or trying to photograph it. Sadly, his life came to an unlucky end this week, when he failed to wake up after a routine veterinary check-up. Officials said he had likely died of heart and lung complications while necessarily sedated. "The cow was a recognisable part of Coney Island Park and will be missed," said NParks.

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